‘Apprentice’ appeal

Peacock powerhouse tops 'CSI' in demo

Two weeks from its finale, NBC’s hot reality series “The Apprentice” scored a ratings coup Thursday — topping television’s highest-rated scripted program, CBS drama “CSI,” in the key demo of adults 18-49.

It’s not that “CSI” is slowing down, though; it was flat vs. the same week a year ago. It’s just that “The Apprentice” is picking up steam and has helped rally the Peacock’s Thursday lineup.

For “The Apprentice,” its 9.8 rating/24 share in 18-49 bested “CSI,” (9.4/23), marking the first time this season that an original “CSI” has failed to win its hour, according to Nielsen.

“CSI” remained on top over “The Apprentice” in adults 25-54 (11.6/26 to 10.4/23) and total viewers (26.47 million vs. 20.17m) while the NBC show won easily in the narrower 18-34 demo (9.4/27 vs. 6.7/19).

Despite the surge by “Apprentice,” the 10 o’clock battle between the night’s leaders continues to tighten. NBC’s “ER” (9.2/25 in 18-49, 19.24m) topped CBS’ “Without a Trace” (6.0/16 in 18-49, 18.12m) by 53% in 18-49, its smallest advantage yet when both shows were originals.

While “ER” was up 4% in 18-49 vs. last year (9.2 vs. 8.8), “Trace” grew by 20% (6.0 vs. 5.0). And in 25-54, the “ER” advantage Thursday was shaved to 34% (9.9 vs. 7.4).

Reality also ruled in the night’s opening hour, where the Eye’s “Survivor: All-Stars” (8.3/23 in 18-49, 21.69m) easily bested NBC’s combo of a repeat “Friends” (5.6/16 in 18-49, 13.59m) and an original “Will & Grace” (5.9/16, 13.48m).

On Friday, new ABC laffer “The Big House” was nothing special (prelim 2.1/7 in 18-49, 6.1 million), but it did a good job holding on to its lead-in from “George Lopez” (prelim 2.2/8 in 18-49, 6.9m). The Kevin Hart comedy maintained its lead-in share and built in rating in both teens (2.2/9 vs. 1.8/9) and 18-34 (1.5/6 vs. 1.4/6).

Saturday was dominated by NCAA men’s basketball semifinal action on CBS, which averaged roughly a 5.5 rating in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings.

The Georgia Tech-Oklahoma State averaged a prelim national household rating of 9.4/19 (up 31% from last year’s comparable game). And Connecticut’s victory over Duke earned a 10.5/20, up 33% from last year.

In latenight Saturday, Donald Trump’s guest-hosting duties on “Saturday Night Live” lifted the NBC sketch show to its third best overnight household rating of the season (6.6/16).

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