With season 17 of the BBC's wildly popular business reality show, The Apprentice returning to UK screens, many are eager to see what's in store.

This year's series will see the return of Claude Littner, Lord Sugar's former right-hand man for at least two episodes.

The once prominent member of Alan Sugar's inner circle will make an appearance in episode one as well as during the final interviews.

However, despite this return, many may be wondering why such a well-loved personality was absent from the BBC show.

Why was Claude Littner absent from The Apprentice?

The reason why the 73-year-old vacated his role from the show was due to a major cycling accident in April 2021.

Claude injured his right leg so badly that doctors apparently considered amputating it but later decided against this.

Previously, Lord Sugar told Lorraine Kelly that he had "lost count" of the number of operations received by Littner, telling the morning TV host that he had "gone through a terrible experience".

READ MORE: BBC The Apprentice: What is Lord Sugar's net worth?

READ MORE: BBC The Apprentice: 7 most memorable moments and disasters

Who replaced Claude Littner on The Apprentice?

Oxford Mail: BBC/PA - Tim Campbell replaced Claude Littner on The ApprenticeBBC/PA - Tim Campbell replaced Claude Littner on The Apprentice (Image: BBC/PA)

For the time Claude was out of action, he was replaced by former The Apprentice champion Tim Campbell.

Tim Campbell won the first Apprentice season all the way back in 2005 and gained a major role in Lord Sugar's company, earning £100,000 a year.

Meet The Apprentice candidates 2023

The Apprentice is set to look more diverse than ever thanks to this year's batch of contestants.

This season will see the inclusion of a Safari guide named Joseph Philips who is dyslexic and Shazia Hussain, a technology recruiter with ADHD.

Here is the full list of candidates set to appear on the 2023 edition of The Apprentice: 

  • Avi Sharma
  • Bradley Johnson
  • Dani Donovan
  • Denisha Kaur Bharj
  • Emma Browne
  • Gregory Ebbs
  • Joseph Phillips
  • Kevin D’Arcy
  • Mark Moseley
  • Marnie Swindells
  • Megan Hornby
  • Reece Donnelly
  • Rochelle Anthony
  • Shannon Martin
  • Shazia Hussain
  • Simba Rwambiwa
  • Sohail Chowdhary
  • Victoria Goulbourne

The Apprentice is returning to BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Thursday, January 5, 2023, at 9 pm.