Lord Sugar's adviser will be taking the iconic chair as Jeff Stelling steps down

The Apprentice star Nick Hewer has been announced as the new host of Countdown.

Hewer observes the hopefuls and advises Lord Sugar on the BBC’s hit reality business show, and is famed for his put-downs and pulled faces. But now he is expanding his TV career by taking on the chair at Channel 4’s long-running letters and numbers game.

He replaces Jeff Stelling, who quit after two years to concentrate on sports broadcasting. His first episode as host will air on January 9 next year.

Hewer said: “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.”

It’s particularly fitting that I should be doing this now as my spelling has started to slip quite badly. I used to be able to spell chrysanthemum.

Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt said of the news: “Nick will be a fantastically charismatic host for Countdown. He is sharp and funny and has a real twinkle in his eye.”

The show’s executive producer Peter Gwynn added: “I’m absolutely delighted that Nick has agreed to take the Countdown chair, and I can’t wait to see him bring his unique style and humour to this iconic format. With Nick at the helm and our 30th birthday next year, we’ve got some really exciting times ahead for Countdown viewers.”

Hewer can currently be seen advising Lord Sugar on Young Apprentice, which goes out on Mondays at 9pm on BBC One.