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NBC, ABC in scheduling showdown

'Apprentice' and 'Grey's' bounce around lineup

Follow the bouncing shows: NBC and ABC have engaged in a cat-and-mouse game over the scheduling of the Peacock’s “Celebrity Apprentice” debut and the Alphabet’s final original episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

NBC originally announced plans to bow “Celebrity Apprentice” on Thursday, Jan. 3, at 9 p.m., opposite “Grey’s Anatomy,” CBS’ “CSI” and the Orange Bowl on Fox.

But with the final pre-strike episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” slated on the night, NBC opted to move out of the way and rescheduled “Celebrity Apprentice” for the following Thursday, Jan. 10.

ABC, meanwhile, decided to move “Cashmere Mafia,” which was set to bow behind the original “Grey’s Anatomy” on Jan. 3, to Jan. 6 (behind a firstrun “Desperate Housewives”) instead.

One factor in ABC’s decision was the Iowa caucuses, which will be held Jan. 3 and cause some preemptions around the country. But the move also freed the Alphabet up to move the final “Grey’s Anatomy” seg to Jan. 10 — yup, straight up once again against that “Celebrity Apprentice” bow.

Those quick changes all happened on Wednesday. On Thursday, NBC blinked, moving the “Celebrity Apprentice” preem back to Jan. 3.

Now, there’s a good chance ABC may move that “Grey’s Anatomy” seg back to Jan. 3 as well, in order to blunt the “Celebrity Apprentice” bow.

ABC and NBC have been engaged in a competitive scheduling dance all year. The nets went back and forth on which women-in-the-big-city drama would bow first, the Alphabet’s “Cashmere Mafia” or the Peacock’s “Lipstick Jungle” (“Cashmere” won that round); the nets also engaged in a weeklong brawl this week with stripped competition shows at 8 p.m. (a battle that will likely end in a draw).

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