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Trump blames Stewart for his ratings slide

Both ‘Apprentice’ shows are down in ratings
/ Source: Reuters

Donald Trump isn’t exactly saying he wants to fire his old friend and fellow mogul Martha Stewart. But he is hinting that she just doesn’t fit in with his “Apprentice” brand.

In an ABC News Radio interview airing Thursday, Trump said the fourth edition of his corporate-themed NBC reality show “The Apprentice” was being dragged down in the ratings by Stewart’s faltering spinoff series.

“I think there was confusion between Martha’s ‘Apprentice’ and mine, and mine continues to do well and ... the other one has struggled very severely,” the real estate tycoon said. “I think it probably hurt mine, and I sort of predicted that it would.”

Trump’s “Apprentice” remains a key element of NBC’s Thursday night lineup but is well off its mark from last season’s ratings performance. The show currently averages 10 million viewers a week, down 4 million from last season.

Meanwhile, “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” one of the most highly anticipated and heavily promoted additions to NBC’s schedule this fall, has proven to be one of the network’s biggest ratings disappointments.

Stewart, who gently dismissed a losing contestant on her show by saying: “You just don’t fit in,” launched her series last month with the smallest audience ever for a season debut of the vaunted “Apprentice” franchise.

Her show continues to languish in the Nielsen rankings, averaging 6.6 million viewers through its first four weeks, though its latest Wednesday broadcast posted modest growth.

Many TV critics have suggested Stewart’s prime-time success has been hurt by her post-prison image make-over as a warmer, softer lifestyle guru, in sharp contrast with the tough-boss persona of Trump and his curt signature phrase “You’re fired.”

Asked in ABC’s radio interview whether he would give Stewart a second chance, Trump was noncommittal.

“That’s up to (executive producer) Mark Burnett and myself and NBC as to whether or not the Martha show continues, but it certainly has struggled mightily,” said Trump, who also is an executive producer of both shows.

An NBC spokeswoman said Trump was currently shooting a fifth edition of his show but there were no plans to bring Stewart back for a second installment of her spinoff.

“It was always originally planned to be one for one cycle,” she said.

Meanwhile, Stewart’s new syndicated show, “Martha,” has gotten off to a more promising start on daytime television.