NBC’s Sunday Audible: Supersize ‘Apprentice’

Dec 2, 2008  •  Post A Comment

NBC is doubling down on the Donald.
The network has decided to supersize the next edition of “Celebrity Apprentice,” expanding the traditionally hour-long Donald Trump reality show to a two-hour format on Sunday nights, according to two people familiar with the situation. “Apprentice” creator Mark Burnett confirmed the expansion plans.
An announcement of the decision is expected as early as this week as part of the second half of NBC’s winter scheduling release.
Supersizing “Apprentice” gives NBC a way to cut programming costs, since adding an extra hour of an already-produced reality show is much less expensive than airing an original scripted or unscripted hour. With “Biggest Loser: Couples” already slated to fill two hours on Tuesdays, and “Howie Do It” set for an hour on Fridays, NBC’s winter schedule will likely feature at least five hours of unscripted programming each week.
Various movies and specials are set to fill NBC’s Sunday lineup in January. That means the earliest that “Celebrity Apprentice” could premiere is Feb. 8, with 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. as the most likely timeslots, one of the people familiar with the plan said. Mr. Burnett declined to comment on scheduling, deferring to NBC.
Two-hour episodes of reality shows aren’t unprecedented. NBC, in fact, has done well with 90-minute and two-hour editions of “The Biggest Loser,” while ABC and Fox sometimes air two-hour editions of “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol,” respectively.
What makes NBC’s decision interesting is that the network only recently officially asked “Apprentice” executive producer Mark Burnett to upsize the show, according to a source with knowledge of the request. Production on the new season of the series had already wrapped, and some sources predicted producers might have to scramble to fill the time.
Mr. Burnett, however, said that NBC officials had actually been talking to him about expanding the show “for weeks.” He said that he and Mr. Trump welcomed the decision.
“It’s great,” he said during a brief telephone conversation from New York. “It wasn’t a sudden call at all. During production, the people at NBC were saying the show was so great and should really be two hours.”
Mr. Burnett said Mr. Trump is particularly pumped by the expansion.
“Donald has always felt the boardrooms were too short, and I think he’s right,” Mr. Burnett said. “Right now, there’s really only about nine minutes of footage that we use and the boardroom (scenes) go on for hours sometimes. The problem has been trying to squeeze it all in. Every season we go through the struggle of cutting the show down.
“This wasn’t a sudden call,” Mr. Burnett added. “It really came from how strongly everyone felt about the show when we were shooting.”
News of the “Apprentice” came the same day CBS scheduled the premiere of the 18th edition of “Survivor” for Feb. 12. The latter franchise remains a tent pole of the CBS lineup, with Mr. Burnett noting that the show hasn’t been beaten by regular series competition since 2001.
(Editor: Baumann)

35 Comments

  1. Two hours?! That’s forty minutes of commercials and non-program material, countless minutes of product placement and how much actual content?
    Is it April 1 already?

  2. Donald has come a long way since Swifton Village in Cincinnati. (Only he will get that).
    It can be very interesting to watch some of the egos clash and see who really understands design and marketing on tens cents and no time.
    Is it great TV? No. But, it is full of wonderful personality twists.
    Two hours? Why not. NBC needs the income and ABC’s soaps are not always worth their two hours on Sunday nights.
    Peter Bright

  3. 2 Hours of Donald Trump? YIKES!! I know Silverman is doing his best to offically termaniate NBC–or just make it 24/7 reality programing–but please–did someone (besides the viewing audiences) lose a bet here? I thought the Rosie fiasco was bad enough–now he’s throwing TRUMP at us? Vaya con dios NBC–nice knowing you…….
    (Pssst, NBC, you know the saying about “something” floats to the top–congratulations, it’s you.)

  4. Omarosa stated on an episode that Donald was her Boss.It is very strange that Trump would take a “business” interest in such a woman. Why was he so tolerant with her and not others? Someone might suspect that Trump’s interest is sexual as well. I can imagine Donald in a collar and leash and Omarasa with whip in hand. Trump certainly bought her an extensive wardrobe. Will we have to put up with her for 2 hours now?

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