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‘Apprentice’ fires up auds

Skein has been boosted by major marketing campaign

LONDON — The U.K. version of “The Apprentice” scored big for BBC2 on Wednesday, when its penultimate episode won a 21.6 audience share — 4.8 million viewers — to trounce its four terrestrial rivals in the 9 p.m. slot.

Audience was the show’s biggest in Blighty, where the skein’s second season has been boosted by a massive marketing campaign and a cult following for its star, hardboiled U.K. businessman Alan Sugar.

Viewership for the series is regularly above 4 million, a high figure for the web, which has seen its overall share slide as rival Channel 4 powers ahead.

Next week’s final is expected to bag an even bigger viewing slice as wannabes Ruth Badger and Michelle Dewberry go head to head to land a job with Sugar’s Amstrad company for an annual salary of £100,000 ($170,000).

It’s been a good week for the Mark Burnett-created FremantleMedia show. Over the weekend it scooped a reality award at the Rose d’Or TV fest in Lucerne.

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