Apprentice sidekick Nick Hewer has confessed that he is afraid of boss Alan Sugar – and that the boardroom is as terrifying as it looks.

Speaking ahead of the new series, which begins on May 7th, the Countdown host said that Lord Sugar had a ‘real presence’ when it came to delivering his verdict on the candidates.

“The truth is I’m scared of him. Everyone is scared of him. He’s formidable,” Nick told the Daily Star Sunday.

“When we’re in the boardroom there’s a lot of tension. It’s a very real place – there’s no script. And it’s a place of abject terror.

He added: Sometimes the candidates lie, so it’s my job to bring it back to the truth. But I have to be really careful not to jump in at the wrong moment.”

Meanwhile Nick also said that while others had tried to emulate the success of the BBC One show – now in its ninth series – none had even come close to matching it.

We still get high ratings, which is amazing,” he pointed out. “It’s a very clever show and there’s some magic in the format that just works

“Everybody tries to copy The Apprentice but none of them has ever caught it.”

The 16 candidates competing to secure a £250,000 business investment off Lord Sugar were revealed last week – while the series will kick off with two nights worth of episodes before moving to its usual weekly slot on a Wednesday night.