Trends: Dumping on Donald

The Apprentice heads into its third season amidst talk that reality programming is suffering a decline
January 1, 2005

The Apprentice heads into its third season amidst talk that reality programming is suffering a decline

The savvy melding of business smarts and backstabbing with a horribly coiffed host saw NBC’s The Apprentice draw average audiences of 20.7 million (ages 2+) in its first season, making it the peacock net’s number one new show of the 2003/04 season. Mark Burnett Productions and FremantleMedia have since taken the format to the world market. To date, 16 countries – including Belgium, South Africa and Israel – have commissioned local versions.

Yet, last year produced a slew of media stories reporting the downfall of the mighty reality genre. True, Nielsen Media Research stats show that while Survivor: Pearl Islands enjoyed the same 20.7 million average audience numbers in the 2003/04 season as The Apprentice, the 2004/05 season saw the stats for Survivor: Vanuatu and the second incarnation of The Apprentice slide to 19.6 million and 15.9 million respectively. And, while roughly 28 million viewers watched the first season finale of The Apprentice, not even 17 million tuned in for Trump’s final ‘You’re Fired’ at the end of season two. But, despite reports to the contrary, viewers aren’t abandoning reality programming. In fact, ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition hammered its way to a nearly 15 million average audience in the 2004/05 season – not bad for a mid-season replacement.

Spin offs

Big Boss, a 12 x 1-hour series staring former football manager Reiner Calmund. First non-U.S. version
Launch: October, 2004
Stats: Achieved a peak share of 16.3% in the 14-to-49 demo

O Aprendiz, a 15 x 1-hour series featuring Roberto Justus, who’s famous in Brazil’s advertising agency circles.
Launch: November, 2004
Stats: Earned a peak of 12% market share in its twelfth episode – a growth of 43% from launch

Diili (The Deal), a 15 x 1-hour series with media tycoon Jari Sarasvuo
Launch: January, 2005

The Apprentice will star Sir Alan Sugar, owner of one of the largest private property companies in Britain
Launch: February, 2005

Rip offs

The Benefactor
Word has it that ABC’s reality format was originally to consist of eight episodes, but poor ratings cut the number to six. Sixteen contestants competed to win $1 million from billionaire businessman Mark Cuban
Launch: Fall 2004
Stats: 5.5 million viewers tuned in for the premiere

Rebel Billionaire
Fox’s attempt to lure viewers with the jet-setting life of Virgin Group of Companies founder Sir Richard Branson faltered early
Launch: Fall 2004
Stats: The two-hour debut had 5.1 million viewers in the adults 18-to-49 demo

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