NBC to air both Donald Trump and Martha Stewart 'Apprentice' editions this fall
By Reality TV World staff, 05/17/2005
NBC unveiled its 2005-2006 Fall primetime schedule yesterday, announcing that it will broadcast not one but twoThe Apprentice editions this fall, with its previously announced The Apprentice: Martha Stewart series joining the fourth edition of the Donald Trump-led original Apprentice series as part of the network's Fall 2005 primetime lineup.
Billed by Apprentice producer Mark Burnett as "the first domestic expansion of The Apprentice franchise," The Apprentice: Martha Stewart will retain the general format of The Apprentice's original series (including its weekly eliminations), with the style and feel of the new show "tailored to reflect Stewart's personality and brand identity." According to NBC, Stewart will bring "her own sensibilities and creativity to the elimination process," with the show's tasks focusing on Stewart's "areas of expertise in media, home renovation, entertaining, design, merchandising, technology and style."
Despite concerns that airing two editions of the series at the same time might result in burning out the reality franchise, NBC also apparently felt that as the program that is holding what remains of its one-time "Must See TV" Thursday night lineup together, the network could not risk committing to airing a full season of the unproven Martha Stewart edition of The Apprentice in the Thursday time period.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC had struggled with the decision throughout its scheduling sessions, drafting schedules that included airing just one version of the series or the other in the fall season's Thursday night time period before finally settling upon debuting the fourth Trump edition in the fall and airing the Stewart edition in the Wednesdays at 8PM time period that NBC hopes will "jump-start" its night.
NBC's reluctance to touch its increasingly fragile Thursday night lineup was further exhibited by its surprisingly decision to leave Joey, a huge ratings disappointment in its attempt to take over for its departed Friends parent, in the network's Thursdays at 8PM time period.
Recognizing that Joey's weak performance in the lineup-launching 8PM ET/PT time period has been crippling the rest of its Thursday night programming and more than a bit responsible for the ratings declines that Will & Grace, The Apprentice and ER have all experienced this season, The Hollywood Reporter had reported that NBC had been considering moving Joey to Tuesdays, where it would air in the 9PM ET/PT time period following The Biggest Loser.
However, in the end NBC surprisingly decided to leave its Thursday night lineup unchanged, hoping that Joey's ratings will grow with its second season... and in the process, reinvigorate a Thursday night lineup that now routinely trails significantly behind CBS's Survivor/CSI/Without A Trace slate among both viewers and most key ratings demographics.
Sensing blood in the water however, ABC and Fox don't appear to be willing to give Joey a chance to climb back to its feet, with Fox already planning to keep its growing The O.C. drama in the hour and ABC announcing today that it will relocate Alias into the Thursdays at 8PM timeslot beginning this fall.
ABC's move will benefit NBC in one respect however -- with Alias off to Thursdays, ABC will be sliding its first-season Lost hit into the Wednesdays at 9PM ET/PT time period... significantly reducing the competition that The Apprentice: Martha Stewart will face in the 8PM hour. Rather than facing smash hit Lost, Stewart's show will now compete with George Lopez -- a sitcom that was considered to be on the verge of cancellation -- and Freddie, a new sitcom starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.