The BBC is tentatively planning to film a new series of The Apprentice this summer if national coronavirus restrictions are lifted as planned, we can confirm.
The long-running business-based reality show - hosted by Lord Sugar, 73 - was cancelled last year as the pandemic gripped the nation and wreaked havoc with TV production.
With vaccines now being deployed to the population at breakneck speed, the government has outlined a provisional plan to gradually remove restrictions over the next four months.
As a result the BBC is planning to film a new series of The Apprentice this year and is currently accepting applications from potential candidates.
Producers will interview their favourites in April and May ahead of the show being filmed over a two-month period between mid-June and August.
If the government plans come to fruition then almost all social restrictions will be lifted by June 21, which would enable The Apprentice's signature tasks to proceed without disruption.
New series of the show typically begin in early October on BBC One, although the tight turnaround means that such a schedule is unlikely and the new series is more likely to be broadcast later in the year or early in 2022.
While The Apprentice has been off air in the UK, Lord Sugar has been in Australia filming a celebrity version for the local Nine network.