‘Apprentice’ is learning

NBC leads Thursday in all key demos

NBC’s “The Apprentice” continues to be a quick ratings study, as its second special Thursday episode built upon the numbers put up in its boffo bow a week earlier.

Stout second-week delivery suggests the unscripted series should travel well when it moves this week to its regular Wednesday-at-8 slot, where its timeslot competish will include Fox’s “American Idol.”

According to Nielsen, Thursday’s 57-minute episode of “The Apprentice” (8:32-9:29 p.m.) averaged a big 10.0 rating/25 share among adults 18-49 and 20.2 million viewers overall, winning the 8:30-9:30 hour for NBC in the 18-49, 25-54 and 12-34 demos.

Its 18-49 score was up 10% from the show’s Jan. 8 premiere (Daily Variety, Jan. 12) and stands as the highest rating for any reality program on any net since the finale of Fox’s second edition of “Idol” last May.

“Apprentice” topped CBS drama “CSI” in 18-49 in the 9 o’clock half-hour (10.2/24 vs. 9.3/22), with the latter remaining well ahead in total viewers. “CSI” surged upon the release of the “Apprentice” aud at 9:30, rising 4 shares in 18-49 to an 11.1/26.

“The Apprentice” seemed to bring more viewers to “Friends” as well (12.9/34 in 18-49, 26.70m), as the comedy racked up its highest 18-49 rating in 14 months and the highest for any entertainment telecast this season.

NBC led the night in all key demo categories.

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