As expected, even with a direct lead-in from a supersized Friends broadcast, NBC's The Apprentice found its first head-to-head competition with an original episode of CBS' CSI a bit more difficult than the previous week's CSI repeat episode matchup.

Airing from 8:44-9:59 PM ET/PT, The Apprentice drew 18.61 million overall viewers and a 9.3/22 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic -- numbers that dramatically improved (by over 40%) NBC's season-to-date average in the time period, but a performance that still placed Apprentice well short of CSI's numbers.

According to final Nielsen ratings for Thursday, February 5, CSI dominated the 9 PM time period in households (17.7/26), viewers (29.27 million), Adults 25-54 (13.1/27) and Adults 18-49 (10.5/24).

CSI topped The Apprentice in the 9 PM hour by +48% in households (17.7/26 vs. 12.0/17), +34% in Adults 25-54 (13.1/27 vs. 9.8/20), +13% in Adults 18-49 (10.5/24 vs. 9.3/22) and by over 10.5 million viewers (29.27 million vs. 18.61 million, a difference of 10.66 million viewers).

While NBC can certainly take joy in their improvement in the hour, their attempt to counter-program CSI with Apprentice hardly seems to have made a difference to CSI, as the episode's performance ranks as the program's highest rated episode this season in Adults 25-54, tied for the program's best performance of the season in Adults 18-49, and was the program's second most watched episode of the season.