The Apprentice averaged 7.8m (30.9%) for BBC One in the 9pm hour, as Edward Hunter became the first candidate to be fired by Lord Alan Sugar.
The programme was significantly up on the 6.9m that tuned in for the debut episode of series six last year, and peaked at 8.16m (32.6%) for the final 15 minutes. Spinoff show The Apprentice: You're Fired! appealed to 2.84m (14%) on BBC Two from 10pm.
Also in the 9pm hour, Home is Where the Heart Is entertained 2.14m (8.5%) on ITV1 and 174k (1%) on ITV+1, while The Secret Millionaire mustered 1.35m (5.4%) on Channel 4 and 303k (1.7%) on +1.
Earlier, BBC One's Holby City fetched 5.58m (25%) in the 8pm hour, beating Countrywise's 2.92m (13.1%) on ITV1. See You In Court, a new documentary series on high-profile privacy cases, judged 1.89m (15.9%) on BBC One from 10.45pm.
Over at BBC Two, Britain's Secret Seas sailed in with 1.41m (7.1%) in the 7pm hour. Britain's Next Big Thing continued with 1.38m (6.2%) from 8pm and The Country House Revealed gathered 1.57m (6.2%) in the 9pm hour.
Channel 4's Supersize Vs Superskinny gobbled up 1.98m (8.9%) in the 8pm hour and 166k (0.7%) on +1. Campus amused 360k (2.1%) from 10pm.
Highland Emergency entertained 434k (2.1%) on Channel 5 from 7.30pm, before new series Supersize Grime disgusted 870k (3.9%). CSI and CSI: Miami brought in 2.05m (8.1%) and 1.19m (6.5%) respectively from 9pm.
Overall, BBC One owned primetime with 27.3% against ITV1's 12.9% (+1: 0.4%). BBC Two came in third place with 7.5%, followed by Channel 4 and Channel 5 jointly with 5.2% (+1: 1%).
Elsewhere, live coverage of Manchester City's Premier League victory against Tottenham Hotspur was seen by 1.28m (5.5%) on Sky Sports 1 from 7.30pm
The Vampire Diaries entertained 495k (2%) on ITV2 in the 9pm hour and 123k (0.7%) on ITV2+1.
Katie entertained 268k (1.1%) on Sky Living from 9pm. The show was followed by reality series The Hunks, which had just 71k (0.4%) from 10pm.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional