Maybe NBC should change its logo from a peacock to Donald Trump’s coiffure. Not only was the finale of ”The Apprentice” the week’s most-watched show (28 million viewers, according to Nielsen), but several other Trump-related shows boosted NBC’s primetime fortunes as well, helping the network earn a rare ratings victory over the season’s overall ratings winner, CBS. A ”Fear Factor” episode featuring contestants from Trump’s Miss USA Pageant finished at No. 9 for the week, while the pageant itself came in at No. 14 and drew its biggest audience in six years. Two Trump-themed editions of ”Dateline” also finished in the top 40.
Overall, NBC averaged 11.6 million viewers for the week. CBS followed with 10.8 million, competing strongly against Thursday’s two-hour ”Apprentice” with lineup of ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (the No. 2 show, with 23.8 million viewers), ”Survivor: All-Stars” (No. 4, 20.4 million), and ”Without a Trace” (No. 5, 17.1 million). Fox, the network most thrown off its game by the last-minute addition of President Bush’s press conference on Tuesday, lost viewers for rescheduled episodes of ”24” and the ”American Idol” results show, winding up with an average of 8.3 million for third place.
News of ABC’s typical fourth-place finish (7.4 million) came hours after the firing of ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne, who follows her colleague, ABC Television Group Chairman Lloyd Braun, out the door. Braun was fired two weeks ago, about the time that Disney President Robert Iger was publicly expressing confidence in Lyne, but the two programming execs had failed in their two years running the network to halt its ratings slide. Stephen McPherson, head of Disney’s Touchstone Television (the production house that makes several ABC shows), will take over for Braun and Lyne, with only a couple weeks to prepare for the network’s presentation of its fall schedule to advertisers.
Among the netlets, the WB won a second straight weekly victory over UPN, 3.4 million to 2.9 million.