'Celebrity Apprentice' Scores Well Against CBS's NCAA Tournament

After starting January in the number one position on Thursday--thanks to "Celebrity Apprentice"--NBC returned to the top spot with a high-rated season finale of the show.

NBC's decision to bring back "Apprentice" thanks to co-chairman of NBC Entertainment Ben Silverman--after it wasn't placed on the schedule by former NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly during last year's upfront presentations--proved its worth.

A special two-hour 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. show, which grabbed a Nielsen Media Research 4.5 rating/12 share for adult 18-49 viewers, helped the network win the night last Thursday. "Apprentice" finished 24% higher for the season overall, with a 3.6 rating versus the 2.9 for last season. Piers Morgan was the winning celebrity.

During its initial episodes, "Celebrity Apprentice" helped NBC win a few Thursday nights--albeit against rerun programming and assorted other special events on other networks.

Another feather in NBC's cap was that it beat CBS' NCAA College Basketball Tournament on the night, which averaged a 3.9/11 for a number of games. Earlier in the evening, NBC's "Deal or No Deal" could only manage a 3.0/9--a low outing for the game show--against NCAA basketball, which took in a 3.2/11.



For the night, NBC was first among viewers 18-49, with a 4.0 rating/ 11 share. CBS was a close second at 3.9/11, Fox third at 2.8/8, ABC fourth at 1.9/5, Univision fifth at 1.8/5, CW sixth at 1.4/4, and MyNetworkTV, seventh at a 0.4/1.

Fox had a modest performance on the night from its two reality game efforts "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" and "Don't Forget the Lyrics." They earned a 2.4/7 and 3.2/8, respectively.

So too did CW. Its two dramas, "Smallville" and "Reaper," earned a 1.6/5 and 1.2/3 rating, respectively.

Of the four big networks, ABC had a tough time of it. Its best effort came from the second of two original "Miss Guided" episodes with a 2.1/6 rating. ABC ran a "Lost" rerun earning a 1.8/5. "Eli Stone" sank to the 1.9/5 due to the big competition at 10 p.m., from its mid-2 ratings of the previous weeks.

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