Celebrity 'Apprentice' works well for NBC


It was as if "The Apprentice" had never left Thursday.

The celebrity edition of NBC's reality series starring Donald Trump premiered to a 4.5 rating/11 share among adults 18-49 (11.0 million viewers overall), matching its most recent Thursday debut in September 2005, according to preliminary Nielsen data.

While the rating performance is far from the franchise's meteoric early run, it improved significantly on the show's numbers for the two previous cycles on Monday and Sunday and ranked as No. 1 for the night among adults 18-49 against Fox's live coverage of the Orange Bowl.

Overall, NBC's all-original lineup, which also included "Deal or No Deal" (13.3, 3/710) and "ER" (9.6 million, 3.6/10) matched Fox's ratings haul for the Orange Bowl pregame/game, though Fox's tally is expected to rise in the final ratings.

In the preliminary Nielsens, NBC and Fox are tied at 11.3 million viewers and a 4.0/10 among adults 18-49. CBS (10.9 million, 2.6/7) and ABC (5.4 million, 1.8/5), which both aired drama repeats, finished third and fourth, respectively.