NBC rehires the original 'Apprentice'

donald-trump-celebrity-apprentice-320.jpgDonald Trump said in a recent conference call that he's often asked when he might do a non-celebrity version of "The Apprentice" again. He now has an answer: later this year.

NBC announced Wednesday (March 17) that it's bringing back the original version of "The Apprentice," in which contestants will compete for a job working for Trump. The new version of the show will have a recessionary twist, as the contestants will all be either unemployed, stuck in jobs they don't like or recent college graduates facing a weak job market.

"The Celebrity Apprentice" will continue as well, meaning that NBC will likely go back to two cycles of the show per season.

"I am very excited to return to the original premise of 'The Apprentice,'" Trump says. "We've got to do something about the economy, and this is a terrific way to provide jobs as well as business lessons along the way. NBC, [executive producer] Mark Burnett and I hope this economic downturn can begin a turnaround, and we'll do our best with 'The Apprentice' to see that it starts happening."

The new "Apprentice" is likely to premiere in the fall; casting calls will be announced in the near future. As with past versions of the show, the winner will get a job with one of Trump's businesses. The others will have to settle for "Donald Trump's personal advice to help them find their dream jobs," as Burnett puts it.

The last non-celebrity "Apprentice" aired in the spring of 2007 and was retired after a several seasons of diminishing returns in the ratings. The 2007 season, the show's sixth, averaged 7.5 million viewers per week (which wouldn't look so bad to NBC these days), down from a peak 20 million-plus in its first season.

"The Celebrity Apprentice" has done somewhat better in the ratings; the show drew 9 million viewers a week last year, and the new season opened to 8.3 million viewers on Sunday (March 14).  

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Photo credit: NBC

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