A quantum physicist, a would-be secret agent and Kate Middleton’s former boss are among the candidates in the new series of The Apprentice.

An ex-Army lieutenant, a housewife, two car salesmen and three single mothers are also among the hopefuls.

The third series of the hit show is returning with 16 candidates battling it out for a £100,000-a-year job with Sir Alan Sugar.

More than 10,000 hopefuls applied for the show, which has transferred from BBC Two to BBC One and kicks off on Wednesday, March 28.

Among the eight male contenders is Rory Laing, 27, who previously ran an upmarket catering firm supplying public school-educated bar staff – and once employed Prince William’s girlfriend, Kate Middleton.

He said of her in 2004: “I pay her only £5.25 an hour. But she’s pretty, so she takes plenty in tips.”

The female hopefuls include Gerri Blackwood, a 33-year-old from Woking, Surrey, who gave up a job offer with MI5 to take part in The Apprentice after being offered both on the same day.

Her competition includes Katie Hopkins, 31, a global brand consultant from Exeter, Devon, who was sponsored through university by the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Brainiest of the bunch is quantum physicist Dr Sophie Kain, 32, from Llanellen in Wales.

The other men include Paul Callaghan, 27, from Southampton, who graduated from Sandhurst and spent six months serving as an infantry commander in Basra.

Adam Hosker, also 27 and from Blackburn, Lancashire, is a car salesman who grew up on a council estate and used to sell match programmes at Blackburn Rovers.