HASLINGDEN Apprentice hopeful Lewis Ellis found himself hauled into the boardroom on the launch of the latest series.

The former Haslingden High School pupil managed to avoid being fired by Lord Alan Sugar, after acting as project manager for the first task.

With the group split by gender, Shahin Hassan was tasked with selling safari tours to holidaymakers, but clashed with Lewis, 28.

When the pair found themselves amongst those called into the boardroom to face Lord Sugar, as well as his aides Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner, they clashed angrily.

But when Lord Sugar announced he was firing Hassan for failing to sell - "simple as that" - he kept quiet.

The chartered engineer, 36, from Birmingham, failed to make a single sale during the bumper launch episode of the BBC One show's 15th series.

Hassan said he felt "out of control" during the first task, which saw Lord Sugar's 16 new entrepreneurs fly to South Africa to create and run bespoke safari and vineyard tours.

He told the PA news agency: "I was really gutted and disappointed in myself because I have always strived to do the best I can.

"And in this situation it was almost like I felt out of control. I wasn't in control - normally I am the project manager in anything I do.

"I should have taken on that task, to lead it and win it."

Wednesday's series debut was five minutes longer than usual, with the BBC pushing back the News At Ten to make way for the 64-minute series premiere.

It saw the candidates - including a para athlete, a beauty brand owner, an artisan baker, a librarian and a luxury womenswear consultant - compete for a £250,000 investment in their business.

The Apprentice continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One, followed by You're Fired on BBC Two.