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Show an upscale demo surprise for NBC

Variety - Los Angeles, CA, USA - When NBC launched "The Apprentice" in 2004, advertisers were still holding their noses when it came to reality TV.

Sure, they'd dived into the form, and skeins like "Survivor" and "American Idol" were fully embraced by media buyers. Yet there was still a lingering mindset among advertisers that unscripted fare attracted lower-rent demos.

At NBC, that wasn't far from the truth -- "Fear Factor" wasn't exactly attracting the Lexus crowd. But then came "The Apprentice."

The Donald Trump-fronted competish skein sent a strong message to Madison Avenue: Reality TV can offer the same upscale environment as a top-tier drama.

Soon enough, "The Apprentice" was second only to "The West Wing" in attracting adults 18-49 making more than $75,000 or $100,000 a year. With its comedy fortunes on Thursday starting to wane, NBC even skedded the show at 9 p.m. on the night -- in the signature timeslot once occupied by "Seinfeld."

Critics chastised NBC for killing "Must See TV." But NBC said the definition of "Must See TV" had simply changed.

"'The Apprentice' was very much in the wheelhouse of what NBC's target audience is," notes Brad Adgate, research topper for ad-buying firm Horizon Media. "It's very affluent, very urban. It has the same audience profile as other NBC shows like 'The Office.'"

"Apprentice" creator-exec producer Mark Burnett says he was simply trying to get out of the wilderness for a while when he thought up the show.

"Having done nine seasons of 'Eco-Challenge' and six seasons of 'Survivor,' I had a desire to work in a city setting like a normal human being," he explains. "What I didn't realize with the show was, by using New York as a backdrop and creating a real thinking-person's show, we ended up skewing the demos in the high end."

The format -- which has dispersed all over the globe, with versions spawned in far-away places like Nigeria and Estonia -- further solidified Burnett's reputation as a reality TV heavyweight. And it also put Trump back in the limelight.
Source : Originally Published Variety - Los Angeles, CA, USA, Mar 19, 2008

Categories : The Apprentice, Celebrity Advertising News
Posted 3/19/2008 03:03:25 AM | Permalink
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