James Argent Gemma Collins
James Argent, pictured with TOWIE co-star Gemma Collins, went missing from his home at 3am on Friday. Getty

The Only Way Is Essex star James Argent sparked a nationwide manhunt and panic on social media on Saturday morning when police were forced to launch a missing persons appeal.

Police and Argent's family and friends were growing increasingly concerned for the welfare of the 26 year-old reality TV star when he went missing from his home in Woodford Green, Essex around 3am on Friday.

Fears were initially raised when Argent – known as 'Arg' – failed to turn up at Gatwick Airport where he was due to meet his agent before flying to Majorca for work. He was then out of contact by phone for 26 hours, leading to worries over his whereabouts.

James Argent
Twitter @RealJamesArgent

Scotland Yard issued a public appeal and fans began a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #PrayForArg, which was trending after being tweeted by a number of Argent's 1.4 million followers, including Lily Allen and Samantha Faiers.

But it emerged on Saturday afternoon that Argent in fact mistakenly travelled from his home to Stansted Airport, his father told MailOnline.

"We had to report it because his agent was panicking, we were panicking, because we couldn't account for his whereabouts. We tried all his friends and none of them knew where he was", said Martin Argent, 58.

"He's just phoned to say he had trouble with his phone and he's sorry to have caused everyone all this worry."

Argent then took to Twitter to apologise for the incident, saying: "Hi I'm so sorry to have worried everyone. I'm fine and safe but again can't apologise enough x".