Businesswoman Karren Brady is to replace Margaret Mountford as an advisor to Alan Sugar on the next series of The Apprentice.

A spokeswoman for Talkback Thames, which produces the show, confirmed on Sunday that Brady – who is chief executive of Birmingham City Football Club – would be at Sir Alan’s side alongside fellow adviser Nick Hewer when the show returns in 2010.

Mountford – who along with Hewer attracted a cult following on the show – quit at the end of the last series to pursue her academic studies.

“Lord Sugar has decided to appoint Karren Brady, who has appeared in The Apprentice before,” the Talkback spokeswoman said.

The 40-year-old – often referred to as “the first lady of football” – has appeared in the show before.

She has made her mark as one of the executives who put candidates through their paces in the “interview” week of the show – which ultimately decides who will make the final.

Brady was also chosen as team leader on a celebrity version of the show for BBC Comic Relief in March 2006. She led her team to victory, helping to raise more than £750,000 for charity in the process.