Next job for 'Apprentice' up in the air

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NBC is still open to another season of "The Apprentice" despite a statement made last week by star Donald Trump distancing himself from the reality series.

The network responded Monday to a statement issued Friday by Trump that said he has told NBC that he is "moving on from 'The Apprentice' to a major new TV venture."

"No decision has been made on an additional cycle (of the series) at this time," an NBC spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, it might not be that easy for Trump to leave the show, in which contestants compete for a position with the Trump Organization. Sources said the real estate mogul would still be under contract to return to "The Apprentice" should it get picked up for a seventh cycle.

Trump has starred in six installments of the NBC reality series, but the show was absent from the network's fall schedule when NBC made its upfront presentation to advertisers last week in New York. At the time, NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly hinted that negotiations were ongoing with executive producer Mark Burnett and Trump, who also exec produces, as to whether the show would return for another season.

As for his new project, Trump's statement was vague on the details.

"It looks like viewers will have to wait to see what Mr. Trump plans for the future," the statement said. "But if Mr. Trump's past TV success is any indication of the future, then one can anticipate that millions of 'Apprentice' fans will be migrating to his new venture."

It has been rumored that Trump has been talking about a potential project with executives at News Corp.'s Fox Business Channel, which is launching in the fourth quarter. And Reilly said last week that should "The Apprentice" not return, NBC would be interested in working with Trump on another project. Sources said NBC has a deadline of June 1 to decide whether to move forward with another installment of "Apprentice."

Meanwhile, a rep for Burnett indicated that Burnett and Trump's business relationship is not over, no matter what happens with "Apprentice."

"Donald Trump is a television icon, and 'The Apprentice' changed the landscape of reality television and remains a very strong ratings performer," the rep said. "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."

"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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