MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Trump Entertainment is bankrupt. That's a business headline.
But to NBC and Donald Trump, the other headline that matters is how "Celebrity Apprentice" did in the Nielsen ratings race. The good news for the network is that the low-cost reality show greatly out-rated the recent revivals of bigger-budget miniseries such as "The Last Templar" and "XIII," by 65% and 192%, respectively. The bad news, however, is that just like The Donald's business itself, "Celebrity Apprentice" is in a recession, as its 3.8/9 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic is 16% lower than the results for last year's season premiere (based on Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings. Final live-plus-same-day data will be released tomorrow).
"Celebrity Apprentice" got beat by a show whose stock seems to be rising: ABC's "Brothers & Sisters," which was without its usual "Desperate Housewives" lead-in. No worries. The program had its highest ratings since its season premiere, as a two-hour version delivered a 4.1/10. That won the 9-11 p.m. slot and gave ABC a victory for the night, as "Brothers & Sisters" combined with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (3.5/9) and "America's Funniest Home Videos" (2.7/8) to average a 3.6/9.
Although NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" finishing a close second to "Brothers & Sisters," Fox finished second overall, with a 3.5/9, just a tenth of a rating point below ABC. "The Simpsons" was up 18%, delivering a 4.6/12 to be the highest-rated show of the night. It was fueled by a Nascar lead-in (3.8/11), as both Kyle Busch and Fox were in first place when the checkered flag was waved during the prime time's first hour. Post-"Simpsons" (the time period, not the era; after last week's two-year renewal notice, it seems there may never be a post-"Simpsons" era), "King of the Hill" lost a third of the "Simpsons" audience as it fell to a 3.0/7. "Family Guy" (3.1/7), which is usually the top-rated Sunday show on Fox, was a repeat. That reduced the ratings for "American Dad," which was down 13%.
CBS finished fourth, with a 2.4/6, as did its two-hour movie "Jesse Stone: Thin Ice" (2.2/5), which was skating on it with the demo (although it won in households). Earlier, "60 Minutes" (2.2/6) was up 38% from last week, when it had to face ABC's Academy Award-themed "Barbara Walters" special, but was 27% from regular-season levels, as it clearly misses the regular season of the NFL, which often spiked its ratings. At 8 p.m., "Amazing Race" was up an impressive (albeit not amazing) 15%, as it, too, benefited from ABC rolling up last week's red carpet.
As usual, the CW finished fifth, as "Jericho" (.3/1) and theatrical "Rain Man" (.5/1) combined for a .4/1.
As for NBC, it was third, with an overall 2.7/7. Its results for The Donald were way above those for Tracy Morgan and Will Ferrell, who got the "Saturday Night Live: Best Of" treatment. The Tracy Morgan version delivered only a 1.0/3, while Will Ferrell's retrospective jumped to a 2.2/5.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Monday: Jimmy Fallon will be the latest to try to avoid the Chevy Chase syndrome when he begins his new talk show tonight on NBC.
Tuesday: The CW's "Reaper" is anything but grim. Rather, it's an often funny, if forgettable, dramedy that begins its second season tonight.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
A strong finish for ABC's "The Bachelor" season finale (at least in the ratings race. Do they ever actually follow up and marry?).
NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.