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NBC says 'Apprentice' future still undecided despite Trump comments


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/22/2007 

Although Donald Trump has announced he's "moving on" and quitting his fading The Apprentice reality series, NBC disagrees.

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"No decision has been made on an additional cycle [of The Apprentice] at this time," an NBC spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter in response to Trump's earlier public statement on Monday.

Last Monday NBC unveiled a 2007-2008 primetime programming schedule that didn't include The Apprentice -- however, according to the network, that didn't mean that it had decided to cancel the Trump reality show.  

Instead, according to NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, NBC planned on revisiting what to do with The Apprentice once the rest of the five major broadcast networks had announced their schedules later in the week.   But on Friday, Trump's The Trump Organization issued a statement declaring that he was "moving on from The Apprentice to a major new TV venture."

However, despite Trump's statement, it appears that it might not be so easy for The Donald to walk away from The Apprentice.  While a seventh season of The Apprentice -- despite Trump boasting about it last summer -- has yet to be ordered by NBC, "sources" told The Hollywood Reporter The Donald is still under contract to return for the show's seventh season should it get picked up.

Regardless of what happens to The Apprentice, a representative for Mark Burnett, the show's executive producer, insists his relationship with The Donald is not over.

"Donald Trump is a television icon, and The Apprentice changed the landscape of reality television and remains a very strong ratings performer," the representative told The Hollywood Reporter. "In fact, its 18-49 ratings are better than several programs NBC decided to renew. Mr. Burnett and Mr. Trump will be in business together again very soon. Stay tuned."

Burnett's statement shouldn't come as much of a surprise.  Just last month, that he all but dared NBC not to renew The Apprentice and boldly declared that he would take the show to another network if NBC decided not to order a seventh edition.

"If you think I'm going to let The Apprentice end -- even if it's not on NBC -- that's not going to happen. Donald Trump is too big of a name," Burnett told the New York Post in late April. "If you look honestly at the numbers, even on a Sunday, with all sorts of [programming] disadvantages... we're still beating The Black Donnellys, Studio 60 and Friday Night Lights."

"I have no idea what NBC is going to do [with The Apprentice] and I haven't heard a peep about it. They're still within their option time," Burnett told the Post. "But I speak to Donald Trump all the time and we're surprised we're doing as well as we're doing. In the end, network TV is about selling advertising, and I can guarantee you, if you ask anyone at NBC ad sales, it's a fact that they can sell The Apprentice to higher demos."

Last summer, Variety reported that Trump was starting his own television production company and teaming with reality producer R.J. Cutler to create a reality show based on Hasbro's Monopoly board game, however no further information about the project has since been reported.

(Photo credit NBC)


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