8:22am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Trump-Produced 'Apprentice' Finishes on a Low Note
It's been nearly four weeks since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America — and, for the first time since taking office, he's technically no longer a profit participant on a running broadcast reality TV show.
NBC's The New Celebrity Apprentice wrapped its seven-episode season Monday night, and the Trump-produced series signed off with the lackluster ratings that it has drawn since its premiere in January. Monday's one-hour finale averaged just a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49 and 3.4 million viewers, placing fourth in the hour behind a dominant Bachelor (the ABC reality show remains on a hot streak, winning the night with another 2.3 rating in the key demo), CBS comedies and Fox freshman APB.
Celebrity Apprentice's numbers, tied with series lows, wouldn't be half bad if NBC hadn't poured so many resources into the new iteration, hosted by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and if its time-shifting lifts weren't so modest. Through the last full week of January, the series' latest live-plus-seven-day averages only give it a 1.4 rating in the key demo and 5.1 million viewers. Compared to the last season hosted by Trump — who retained an executive producer credit on the competition of vaguely familiar talent facing off in entrepreneurial challenges after vacating an on-camera role to run for office — that's down nearly 42 percent in the key demo, and likely a death knell for the show. Even if the ratings were better, producers MGM TV and creator Mark Burnett's ties to Trump have been a headache for the network.
For a moment in December, it seemed that the Trump ties might have worked in NBC's favor. But the new Apprentice never overcame its baggage, with relatively few viewers sampling the reboot. None of the attention around the president's unprecedented financial stake in the show could drive numbers up — even after the commander-in-chief used a prayer breakfast to ask religious leaders, elected officials and dignitaries to pray that the show's ratings improve.
Comparisons between this run of Celebrity Apprentice and its last season in 2015 aren't entirely fair. That run of the show marked an unexpected ratings spike after several years of fatigue. (That season brought a rare 25 percent rise over the prior one.) It was enough to make Trump falsely claim at the time that it was the highest-rated show on TV.