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New NBC head asks for extension on 'The Apprentice' pickup decision


By Christopher Rocchio, 06/01/2007 

Donald Trump is apparently learning that time can heal all wounds.

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NBC initially left Trump's The Apprentice reality series off its 2007-2008 primetime programming schedule, causing the real-estate mogul to claim he was "moving on" from the network before he could officially be fired.  Following Trump's statement, NBC reiterated it was undecided on what do with The Apprentice, and now it appears the network has a plan. 

NBC has asked Trump and The Apprentice executive producer Mark Burnett for a one-week extension on the network's option to renew the series for a seventh season, Reuters reported Thursday, adding Trump and Burnett have agreed.

While the extension doesn't guarantee a seventh installment of The Apprentice will air on NBC, according to Reuters, it does provide the network until Friday, June 8 to "exercise its rights under its existing deal to air one more installment of the program." 

The extended window for a possible renewal represents one of the first decisions made by reality television producer Ben Silverman, who was named co-chairman for NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio earlier this week.  Silverman's renewal extension request for The Apprentice should come as no real surprise, as he previously worked with Burnett on NBC's July 2003 reality competition series The Restaurant, which represented Silverman's Reveille production and distribution company's first project.

"It's true. Ben is just getting in and getting up to speed, and he did ask for an extension on [The Apprentice] option for a week," spokeswoman Rebecca Marks told Reuters.

Prior to Trump's "moving on" statement, Burnett boasted that he would take the show or its star to another network if NBC decided not to order a seventh edition -- a possibility Trump also hinted at during an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live earlier this week.  However Reuters reported Burnett would rather stay with NBC, and added Silverman taking the lead in all major programming decisions for the network is a big reason why.

"We've been a good partner with NBC and made them a lot of money," Burnett told Reuters. "So when the old regime that we had problems with was gone, then Donald and I decided to try again with the new regime. So Apprentice fans, all is not lost."

Burnett said Trump "truly felt disrespected," USA Today reported Thursday, when NBC unveiled its 2007-2008 primetime programming schedule in mid-May and it didn't include a seventh installment of The Apprentice.  Burnett added he "feels sure" The Apprentice's seventh season would continue on another network if NBC ultimately decides to pass, according to USA Today.

"We've had plenty of discussions [with other networks]," Burnett told USA Today.

However any plans Trump or Burnett may have to shop The Apprentice elsewhere were put on hold for at least another week with NBC extending its renewal option on the show.

"Mr. Trump and Mr. Burnett have agreed to this one-week extension and have informed the other networks that they cannot discuss The Apprentice with them until this option period expires," reads a statement issued by the Trump Organization, according to Reuters.

(Photo credit NBC)


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