Countdown host Nick Hewer was left stunned when he was surprised with a message from friend and fellow Apprentice star Lord Alan Sugar on his final day on the Channel 4 programme.
Nick, 77, has been the host of Countdown since January 2012, having also starred on The Apprentice as Lord Sugar’s right hand man from 2005 to 2014.
Friday June 25 marked his last day on the game show, before he is replaced by former Weakest Link presenter Anne Robinson next week.
While today’s grand final consisted of the usual mathematical and letter conundrums, it also featured several tributes to Nick, with his co-stars Rachel Riley and Susie Dent expressing how much they’re going to miss him.
Near the end of the show, Nick turned to Susie to deliver her segment on the origins of words, with the lexicographer beginning by talking about the impact of salt and sugar on civilisation.
After telling Nick that ‘we know that you love a sweet treat now and again’, she then said she was going to ‘leave this to somebody who knows a lot more about this than me’, which is when she turned to Lord Sugar, who appeared in a video message on screen.
Nick was astonished when Lord Sugar appeared on the screen (Picture: Channel 4)
‘Hello Nick. Well, we go back a long way. I think it’s over 35 years since you came to help me as my public relations consultant and you did a fantastic job for me over the years, and of course you’ve become a very, very good friend of mine,’ Lord Sugar said, as a shocked Nick stared at the monitor on his desk.
‘Now who would to think that 35 years ago, if I was to say to you then, “Nick I think you’re going to become a television celebrity,” you would have said, “Oh no,” exactly what you said when I invited you to become the assistant to me in The Apprentice,’ Lord Sugar added.
The Countdown host burst into laughter after Lord Sugar’s sign-off (Picture: Channel 4)
The businessman stated that Nick has ‘proven’ that he’s ‘more than up to that kind of thing’, before expressing his congratulations for the TV presenter’s decade on Countdown.
‘That makes you I believe the second longest serving host since Richard Whiteley. 18 series, 2,000 shows – about a time you deserved a bit of leisure,’ Lord Sugar said.
The Apprentice host couldn’t sign off without delivering his iconic line, tweaking it ever so slightly for his friend.
Nick found Lord Sugar’s message ‘quite extraordinary’ (Picture: Channel 4)
‘So congratulations on such a great inning. I’ve waited a long time to say this – You’re retired,’ he said, prompting Nick and the rest of the presenters in the Countdown studio to burst into laughter.
Nick appeared quite taken aback by Lord Sugar’s unexpected message, describing it as ‘quite extraordinary’.
On Twitter, Nick shared that the Countdown team had left a ‘big bunch of flowers and a bottle of bubbly’ at his door for his last day.
‘Thanks a million to a great team and a big thank you to all those who sent their best wishes to me as I begin my search for a pair of slippers,’ he said.
Countdown returns on Monday at 2.10pm on Channel 4.