Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

Three weeks from its season finale, NBC’s “The Apprentice” posted its best numbers yet Thursday, helping the Peacock to an easy victory in all key demographic categories, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

From 9 to 10, “The Apprentice” (10.8/27 in adults 18-49, 22.7 million viewers overall) hit NBC’s highest slot rating with regular programming since September 2001, beating up on weaker-than-usual competish that included college basketball on CBS, figure skating on ABC and “Forever Eden” on Fox. Peacock also won the 8 o’clock hour with a repeat “Friends” (7.4/21 in adults 18-49, 16.6 million viewers overall) and an original “Will & Grace” (7.7/21 in adults 18-49, 16.1 million viewers overall) and at 10 with a repeat “ER” (6.0/17 in adults 18-49, 13.8 million viewers overall).

CBS ran second with college basketball (roughly 3.7/10 in adults 18-49, 10.7 million viewers overall) but was down week-to-week, while ABC’s “Figure Skating Championships” fell flat on its face from 9 to 11 (1.3/3 in adults 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall).

Fox’s rookie drama “Tru Calling” (2.2/6 in adults 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall) delivered some of its best ratings to date, but the net’s “Forever Eden” looked weak in its regular timeslot premiere (1.8/4 in adults 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 8.1/22; CBS, 3.7/10; UPN, 2.1/6; Fox, 2.0/5; WB, 1.3/3.

In total viewers: NBC, 17.6 million; CBS, 10.7 million; ABC, 7.1 million; UPN, 5.3 million; Fox, 4.6 million; WB, 3.1 million.

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