BBC The Apprentice's Claude Littner's incredible recovery after 'six months to live' diagnosis

Claude Littner with his wife Thelma attend the National Television Awards on January 25, 2017 in London
Claude Littner with his wife, Thelma -Credit:Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

BBC The Apprentice's Claude Littner has made an incredible recovery after being given a prognosis of just six months to live. Littner, who rose to fame as Alan Sugar's most-feared interviewer on The Apprentice, replaced Nick Hewer as one of the judges on the series in 2015.

Alongside Karren Brady, he would guide the candidates through their tasks and then provide his opinion to Lord Sugar. He was a regular feature on the show until 2022, but reduced his role to interviewing the candidates following a severe accident on his electric bike that required nine surgeries. Tim Campbell was brought in to fill Claude's shoes, and he has remained on the show since. But what else is there to know about Claude outside of the BBC show?

Before his television career, he was a driven businessman for many years. The 74-year-old was born in New York, but his family moved to the United Kingdom shortly after his birth. Here's what we know about Claude's life away from the camera, including his family, how he accumulated his wealth, and a heartbreaking health diagnosis that gave him a life expectancy of six months, reports Birmingham Live.

Claude Littner

Claude has been married to his wife Thelma since 1976, and they currently reside in Mill Hill, North London. They have two sons, Anthony and Alex, both of whom are now in their 40s. Anthony and Alex are proud parents to a combined total of five children, making Claude a grandad to five grandchildren. Claude has openly expressed his gratitude for his wife's unwavering support, especially during the times when he was utterly consumed by his career.

In an interview with Jewish News in 2019, Claude reflected on his past work ethic: "If I look back at me, I was a nutcase. I just wanted to work. I didn't want to take a holiday, because I was worried someone else might get ahead of me. I was obsessed with doing the job. I didn't think I was making any sacrifices. The problem was my wife took the brunt of looking after the children. I took my path and was lucky enough to have a wife who would do that."

Praising his wife's dedication, he added, "She gave up her career and was wonderful looking after our two children and the house and doing all those things. I was lucky to have her."

Claude also went through an extraordinary recovery from a life-threatening health crisis. In 1997, at the age of 48, Claude faced a dire prognosis when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Doctors delivered the shattering news that he had a mere six months to live. This revelation came just hours after a tense exchange with business magnate Lord Alan Sugar.

Speaking on Loose Women, Claude recounted his health scare: "I had a pain in my groin which I had diagnosed as a hernia because being in football I saw lots of football players having hernias. I took the opportunity that day of switching my phone off because Alan Sugar doesn't like that at all and I went to see the doctor about my hernia. The doctor looked at my hernia and said that it wasn't a hernia and I told him it was, basically. He immediately sent me to a consultant and that afternoon they diagnosed me with having cancer. I had Hodgkin's lymphoma."

Claude also detailed his remarkable journey to recovery after enduring 'years of trauma', crediting his sister for being a stem cell match: "After many years of chemotherapy, which was very difficult to sustain, they found that my sister was a stem cell match, so her stem cells were transplanted into me. I'm very, very lucky."

Detailing his e-bike accident, Claude nearly lost his leg after falling from an electric bike in 2021. He faced nine surgeries and had to relearn walking following the incident close to his London residence. He told PA: "I was just pottering along, I must have been doing no more than 10 kilometres an hour on this sort of two-track road. The next thing I knew, I was on the left-hand side of the street, my bike was in the middle of the road and I didn't know what happened. My wife and my sons were there as well and [the doctors] decided they were going to amputate my leg. And then they had another chat about it and they said, 'Look, let's get him into theatre right away tonight and let's see if we can save his leg'. And I went into theatre and it was a very long operation and they didn't take my leg off."

Claude has since updated fans that he is recovering well after the accident.

Claude Littner's net worth and how he amassed his wealth

In 2022, it was reported that Claude's estimated net worth was around £34 million. Starting his career as a finance manager at Unilever plc, Claude eventually began his own business and emerged as a corporate turnaround specialist.

Throughout his lucrative career, Claude held chairman positions at various companies, some of which were among Lord Sugar's earliest ventures, such as Amstrad International, Amstrad Spain, and Dancall Telecom. Apart from these roles, Claude served as chairman of Les Trois Lords, Azzuri Communications, ASCO the international oilfield support group, and was deputy chairman of Blacks Leisure along with being a director at Norton Way Motors. He is also a proud majority shareholder in Powerleague, the 5-a-side football company. In 2014, Claude Littner was named as a visiting professor at his namesake business school at the University of West London.