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Apprentice Delivers for NBC

NBC's two-hour Apprentice finale was must-see TV from 9 p.m.-11 p.m. Thursday, winning its time period(s) in adults, 18-49, and leading NBC to a win for the night in households (14.6 rating/23 share) and the key 18-49 sales demo (11.1/29). 

According to NBC, The Apprentice's series-record 13.5/34 was the network's best 18-49 rating in any time period in a year and a half, and its best non-Olympic 18-49 rating in the Thursday night time period in almost three-and-a-half years. At 27 million, it was also NBC's highest viewer average of the season.
CBS came in second in 18-49's (6.8/18) with Survivor, CSI, and Without A Trace. At 8-9, CBS' Survivor won the demo with a 7.4/22, beating out back-to-back Friends repeats on NBC (6.5/19) and the American Idol results show--moved to Thursday thanks to the Bush news conference--and a new Tru Calling on Fox (4.5/13). Even with the victory, CBS will re-run Survivor Friday night for any Idol fans, or anyone else for that matter, who wants to catch up on the contest.

Fox was third in 18-49's for the night (3.2/9), its average brought down by a second new Tru Calling (2.3/6) and a surprisingly lackluster 1.5/4 for an Idol-themed Simpsons repeat (the one where Homer punches Simon Cowell).

ABC limped into fourth-place showing in the demo. It averaged a 1.7/4, with ailing Kingdom Hospital (1.3/3) helping lower the average. A re-run of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition mustered a 1.7/5 at 8-9. ABC's best performer was a heavily hyped Primetime Thursday show on psychics and reincarnation (2.0/5).

At that, ABC barely edged out netlet UPN, which did a 1.6/4 for WWE wrestling.

The WB was sixth, with a .7/2 for Steve Harvey, Like Family, and JKX).

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.