[11/24/03 - 12:00 AM]
'Ed' Back to Fridays as NBC Schedules 'The Apprentice'
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- NBC will get in business with Donald Trump in January as the Peacock has scheduled its new reality series "The Apprentice." The news was just one of a half-dozen announcements the network made as part of its November sweeps wrap-up conference call.

Here's a breakdown of all the latest rumblings from the Peacock:

-- NBC will kick off "The Apprentice" with a special 90-minute premiere on Thursday, January 8 at 8:30/7:30c following an all-new episode of "Friends." The series, which comes from producer Mark Burnett ("Survivor"), will then move to its permanent home of Wednesdays at 8:00/7:00c beginning January 14. Here's how NBC describes the show (via press release):

"The Apprentice" is a 15-episode unscripted drama in which 16 candidates from all walks of life, including both Ivy League MBA graduates and street entrepreneurs with no college education, will endure rigorous tasks each week while living together in a hip Manhattan loft apartment. The tasks will test their intelligence, chutzpah and street-smarts. They will face the challenges of living in close quarters and must compete sometimes humorous but always difficult job assignments and will be forced to think outside the box in order to outshine each other to get to the top.

Upon their arrival to New York City (some for the very first time), the 16 candidates will be rushed over to Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump, the centerpiece and driving force of this series. After splitting the group into two teams of 8, Trump then issues the first task. Teams will be given time constraints for each task and they will be observed by either Trump himself or members of his staff at every moment along the way. At the conclusion of each task, the winning team will be granted a lavish reward but the losing team must report immediately to Trump�s boardroom where one of them will be fired.

Tasks each week will incorporate various aspects of business: sales, marketing, promotions, charities, real estate deals, finance, advertising pitches and facilities management. Most of them will be assignments that executives face in their daily lives. The big twist is that our teams are thrown out to the wolves of the New York business world with only a few days to complete incredibly difficult tasks, many of which have hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake. This is the ultimate corporate jungle where staying alive means using both street smarts and book smarts.

The winner of the competition, the true "apprentice" will be granted the dream job of a lifetime with The Trump Organization and a salary of $250,000.

-- With "The Apprentice" taking over the Wednesday, 8:00/7:00c hour, NBC will move "Ed" to Fridays at 9:00/8:00c in January (exact date to be announced). The Peacock is then expected to run new episodes of the series through February sweeps, wrapping the show's fourth season early much like last season. "Ed" will take the place of "Miss Match" on the network's schedule during the period, after which the freshman dramedy will return with new episodes. It's not clear however if any episodes will be ordered beyond its initial batch of 13 however it seems likey as the series has already aired eight installments with a ninth scheduled for December 5.

-- Meanwhile, NBC has also announced it will expand the series premiere of "The Tracy Morgan Show" to a full hour. Back-to-back episodes of the comedy are scheduled for December 2 starting at 8:00/7:00c. With an additional episode already scheduled for Thursday, December 4 at 8:30/7:30c, viewers will see three fresh installments of "Tracy" within three days. In addition, the Peacock will encore the Thursday airing, a Christmas episode, on Sunday, December 7 at 8:30/7:30c. The moves bump the respective new time period premieres of "Whoopi" (Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c as of December 9) and "Good Morning, Miami" (Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c as of December 11) back a week. "Scrubs" will remain at 9:30/8:30c on December 4 before moving back to its pre-sweeps home of 8:30/7:30c on December 11.

-- With "Average Joe" drawing to a close, NBC also announced it will bow the second season of the reality series shortly after the close of the first go around. Much like its summer hit "For Love or Money," the Peacock greenlighted production on two installments of the series in order to preserve the show's various twists.

-- The Peacock has also scheduled the second of its one-minute movies or "1MMs." "Henry Tammer - Prodigy Bully," from Hank Perlman, the creator of ESPN's award winning "This is Sportscenter" campaign will air over four nights: part I and III will air during "Happy Family" on Tuesdays on December 9 and 16 while part II and IV will air during "Good Morning, Miami" on Thursdays on December 11 and 18. According to NBC's press release the mockumentary "boasts of finding the first child prodigy-cum-bully - 8-year-old Henry 'The Hammer' Tammer (Josh Flitter)."

-- Lastly, word still seems to be mum about the future of the network's struggling drama "The Lyon's Den." After a return broadcast this Sunday at 10:00/9:00c, movies will pre-empt the series on December 7 ("National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation") and December 14 ("Dear Santa") leaving little chance for the show to return to NBC's schedule in future weeks.

  [november 2003]  

· ED (NBC)

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