The Apprentice star Nick Hewer has signed on to host the new series of maths and words quiz Countdown, following the departure of JEFF STELLING. Hewer, known as Lord Alan Sugar's sidekick on the entrepreneurial reality show, will join regulars Rachel Riley and Susie Dent when the program returns next year.

Nick will become the fifth presenter of the long-running Channel 4 show and says he will work hard to emulate his predecessors, saying. "I'm flattered to have been asked to present such an iconic programme and will work hard to justify sitting in the same seat as such great talents as Jeff Stelling, Des O'Connor and, of course, the great Richard Whiteley". A much-loved presenter, Whiteley launched the show at the birth of Channel 4 in November 1982, and continued in the role until his sudden death in 2005. Most recent host Stelling announced earlier this year he was to leave the show after less than three years, to concentrate on his job helming Sky Sports' Gillette Soccer Saturday show. Channel 4 chief creative officer Jay Hunt said, "Nick will be a fantastically charismatic host for Countdown. He is sharp and funny and has a real twinkle in his eye".

A former public relations consultant, Hewer joined The Apprentice in 2005, on which he is known for giving Alan Sugar bleak feedback on the contestant's weekly entrepreneurial tasks.