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‘Apprentice’ fails to do the job

NBC reality series opens new season poorly

“The Apprentice,” which NBC used this fall as 10 p.m. Thursday replacement for “Love Bites,” might have wished it had stayed as a midseason entry.

Peacock’s reality stalwart never got out of the gate in its season premiere, posting only a 1.5 rating and 5 share in the 18-49 demo, with 4.6 million viewers tuning in. What’s even more concerning for the network was the performance was against repeat competition in both hours (9-11 p.m.). That’s a 53% drop compared to the March “Celebrity Apprentice” premiere and 63% decline from its last non-celebrity edition debut in 2007.

It’s unsure why the skein performed so poorly, but NBC didn’t provide much of a lead-in with back-to-back reruns of “The Office (1.1/4, 3.5m and 1.3/4, 3.4m) and viewers may have been wanted a break from reality following a slew of series finales and premieres on Wednesday. Also, the network has used much of its marketing resources for its new skeins and “The Apprentice” might’ve fallen through the cracks, promotionally speaking.

CBS won the night with four episodes of “The Big Bang Theory,” which will begin its new season next week. Sitcom should fare very well in its season four debut against fellow laffer “Community” and dramas “My Generation,” “Lie to Me” and “The Vampire Diaries.”

In its second week on the CW, “Nikita” (1.2/4, 3.3m) held 94% of its premiere audience and built on its “The Vampire Diaries” (1.4/5, 3m) lead-in by 13% in total viewers. Against repeat competition, “Vampire Diaries” was first in the 8 o’clock hour among women 18-34.

ABC offered reruns of “Wipeout” (2.0/7, 6.4m) and a two-hour “Grey’s Anatomy” (1.7/5, 5.3m) while Fox ran two hours of “Fringe.”

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 2.2/7; ABC, 1.8/6; Univision, 1.7/5; NBC, 1.4/4; CW, 1.3/4; Fox, 0.7/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 7.9 million; ABC, 5.7 million; NBC, 4.2 million; Univision, 3.9 million; CW, 3.2 million; Fox, 2.4 million.