NBC Shifts Lineup To Serve Apprentice


Mega-developer Donald Trump may own half of Manhattan, but his hit show The Apprentice
was driven off its Wednesday real estate by Fox's American Idol.

After viewers departed Apprentice
in droves for Idol
last Wednesday, NBC late last week decided to rearrange much of its schedule to get its best ratings opportunity for The Donald and to shore up Thursday night against CBS's coming Survivor: All-Stars.

Starting this week, The Apprentice
will air Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET against CBS's top-rated CSI
and following Friends
and Will & Grace. Scrubs, which had been leading out of Will & Grace, will move to Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., bumping Happy Family
to 8:30 p.m., following Whoopi. The Tracy Morgan Show
moves to Saturdays at 8 p.m., a.k.a. ratings Siberia.

As for Wednesdays at 8 p.m., which was to have been The Apprentice's time slot, NBC will air Apprentice
repeats for now. Ed, which NBC moved to Friday at 9 p.m. from Wednesday at 8 p.m., will stay there.

"I think [NBC Entertainment President] Jeff Zucker believes he has a hot show," said one network executive. "Ratings would indicate that he does, and he's playing a hot hand on his best night. It makes sense."

The Apprentice
has indeed been hot, launching with a 9.1 rating/22 share in adults 18-49 and 18.5 million viewers on Thursday, Jan.8 between Friends
and ER. That was the highest rating for any new TV series in a year.

The show's second original episode, airing Thursday, Jan. 15 between Friends
and Will & Grace, also scored big ratings, with a 10.0/25 in adults 18-49 and 20.2 million viewers.

In its third outing, though, last Wednesday against Fox's American Idol
(see page 9), The Apprentice
took a big hit, with a 4.9/12 in adults 18-49 and 12.3 million viewers overall. Idol, on the other hand, scored a 12.7/32 in adults 18-49 and nearly 30 million viewers overall.