TV

End This 'Apprentice'-ship

Sunday marks the newest incarnation of NBC's "The Apprentice," and it's a sign of the times over at the Peacock that not only are they expanding the show to two hours each Sunday, essentially having it take over the whole night, but it's another "celebrity" version.

"The Apprentice" was a fairly clever, decent reality show when it first aired a few years ago, pitting young Yuppie types against each other for a chance to work for Donald Trump's organization. The first winner, Bill Rancic, proved himself to be a top-notch young executive.

But half the time, the "firings" on the show seem rigged, choosing a less competant contestant to stay because he or she is more "interesting" in terms of TV presence. Witness the infamous Omarosa, who has become a pseudo-celeb in her own right because of her general witchiness and ineptness for two different runs on the show.

Were this real life instead of reality TV, one presumes that Trump would exercise better judgment with whom he selects other than using someone's Q-rating.

But with the ratings slipping, NBC revamped the show into a "celebrity" edition, with Piers Morgan claiming the title (his winnings went to charity).

That run of the show revitalized the concept of the show, but it has also led to what we will have Sunday night. For the couple of celebs I might support -- former UGA star Herschel Walker and poker pro Annie Duke -- there are way more that I can't stand in the best of times, and certainly don't want to see on a weekly basis for the next three months.

Individually, the likes of Joan and Melissa Rivers, Tom Gree, Andrew "Dice" Clay and Dennis Rodman are enough to get me to change the channel. All five at once? Pure torture.

It reads like the roster of "The Surreal Life." What, Danny Bonaduce was booked up? Paris Hilton was unavailable?

"The Apprentice" is utterly symbolic of the chaos that reigns at NBC these days, especially in the Jeff Zucker-Ben Silverman regime. One wonders if the network can possibly sink lower. I won't be tuning in to find out.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: NBC isn't doing much better tonight, either, ironic since the network used to set the standard on Thursdays. "The Office" is a rerun, but at least "Kath & Kim" at 8:30 p.m. is new (just joking -- more torture). "30 Rock" is new as is "ER," which continues with former star Noah Wyle appearing.

"Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) is new, but the rest of the network's offerings are reruns. CBS, however, has a brand-new night with "Survivor," "CSI" and "Eleventh Hour," in which 30 people get struck by lightning in a half hour in a single town. Sounds like they are having the same kind of luck I'm having this week.

Fox has new episodes of "American Idol" and "Hell's Kitchen."

Finally, on cable, "The Beast" (A&E, 10 p.m.) is all-new, as is "Burn Notice" (USA, 10 p.m.).

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