NBC eyeing more of 'Apprentice'

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"The Apprentice" could be one step closer to getting a renewal at NBC.

Sources said Friday that talks are heating up among the network, executive producer Mark Burnett and exec producer/star Donald Trump to continue the reality competition show.

As of Friday night, there was no agreement in place, but there is a strong possibility for a deal to be struck before NBC's presentation next week at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour. It's not clear whether the pickup would entail one or two more cycles.

Sources inside Mark Burnett Prods. confirmed Friday that discussions are taking place but emphasized that there is no deal. Calls to Trump's office in New York were not returned at press time. NBC declined comment.

The reality competition series, in which contestants compete for a position with the Trump Organization, was absent from the network's fall schedule when NBC made its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York in May. At the time, then-NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly hinted that negotiations were ongoing with Burnett and Trump as to whether the show would return for another season.

In late May, Trump issued a statement saying that he had told NBC that he was "moving on from 'The Apprentice' to a major new TV venture." At the time, an NBC spokesperson said that no decision had been made on a seventh installment of the show, and sources indicated that Trump would still be under contract to return should it get picked up for another cycle.

Meanwhile, prospects for another season increased after the appointment in late May of Ben Silverman as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. Silverman reportedly had asked Trump and Burnett to extend the network's option to renew the series, and the pair agreed to talks.

Should NBC decide not to move forward with another installment, Trump has said that "numerous networks" have expressed an interest in picking up the show.

"Apprentice" became a surprise hit when it debuted in 2004 but has seen its ratings fall; the most recent cycle, which saw the show relocated from New York to Los Angeles, was its lowest-rated so far.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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