Reacting to criticism to the extremely padded 3-hour finale of The Apprentice 2, NBC announced Tuesday that the finale for The Apprentice 3 would be scaled back to one hour. Airing Thursday, May 19 in the show's regular 9PM ET/PT time slot, the The Apprentice 3 broadcast will be followed by the season finale of ER.

Gone will be the Regis Philbin-hosted "reunion show", which was part of the December finale, in which software executive Kelly Perdew was chosen as Donald Trump's second "Apprentice." Despite its status as a standard (and well-rated) capper to each season of Apprentice producer Mark Burnett's long-running CBS Survivor series, The Donald has apparently that he isn't interested making a "reunion" broadcast a regular part of his own reality show's finale tradition.

"At my insistence, I wanted it to be a one-hour finale," said Trump at Tuesday's press conference. "We ended up with a reunion and all of this nonsense. Nobody wants that. What they want is a finale where somebody gets fired." "Viewers want the live boardroom and they want to witness the excitement of the hiring," he added in a network press release.

Viewers also do not want to be bored, which was the main complaint with the bloated three-hour finale. At one hour, padding and bloat should not be a problem. However, eliminating any semblance of a reunion -- especially on May 19 (when Survivor: Palau will no longer be airing at 8PM ET/PT on CBS) -- may have been a cut too far in the other direction. Only the final ratings will determine the answer.

Coming back again, though, will be Bill Rancic, the first winner of The Apprentice.

Bill's prize, a one-year contract with The Donald as the president of one of his subsidiarires, expires on April 15, but Trump announced that Bill will receive a one-year contract extension as well as an expansion of his duties in The Trump Organization. In addition to his existing responsibilities overseeing the long-delayed construction of Trump Tower in Chicago, Bill's newly-expanded duties will include strategic development of other Trump properties across the country and in Mexico. He will also continue to serve as a fill-in aide on The Apprentice 4 (or should that be The Apprentice 4B?).

"Bill has done an incredible job in the past year working for me. He's so talented that I thought he might want to go out on his own and make millions. We're lucky to have him back for another year and I can rest assured that my Chicago project is in the best of hands," stated Trump in the network release.

For his part, Bill didn't sound like someone in any hurry to go off on his own. "I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Trump has afforded me in the past year," he said. "He has truly taken me under his wing and exposed me to his distinct and incredibly successful way of doing business. It will be a privilege to spend another year with him."

As previously disclosed, the finale of The Apprentice 3 will be held in New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, which seats merely 860 (with 200 or so tickets reserved for NYU students).