Celebrity Apprentice drama up, ratings down

The return of Celebrity Apprentice last night was a much better TV show than the first celebrity episode last year, but not as many viewers tuned in.

In its first half hour, according to TV By the Numbers, 8.243 million tuned in, while 9.028 watched the last half-hour; overall, it averaged 8.81 million viewers. That’s down significantly from the 11 million who watched last season’s premiere, and about two million fewer viewers than The Amazing Race 14 and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

That’s also down 16 percent among viewers 18 to 49, Media Life reports, although it notes that “it was NBC’s best timeslot performance since Feb. 17, 2008” “[e]xcluding sports and the Golden Globes.”

That’s too bad since it was a pretty strong two hours (and there wasn’t much filler for the new two-hour format) were stronger than last year’s weak first episode.

The real fun of the show comes from watching the celebrities reveal their true selves, or parts of their true selves, like when Dennis Rodman sat in the truck instead of selling cupcakes so he didn’t distract everyone with his super-celebrity, or how Annie Duke was so annoying and completely unaware of that.

Andrew Dice Clay was the episode’s star, though he eventually got fired for the same reasons that he was so entertaining. He decided to go on satellite radio instead of baking cupcakes, because if there’s any way to raise money at a sidewalk bake sale it’s satellite radio. He also called Trump “Donny,” and in a moment he may have thought would be edited out, asked for bagels or food in the work room. The editors had fun with that, dropping all music and letting the silence that followed (Trump didn’t answer) say everything, which happened again later.

The only real problem with Celebrity Apprentice is the way Trump fires people. Andrew Dice Clay deserved to be ripped apart for his completely obnoxious behavior and knocked off the tower he clearly thinks he’s still atop (even though he’s basically irrelevant now). Instead, he got this from Trump, which is a version of what Trump does to all these celebrities: You suck, but you’re great, and you’ll do well, but you’re fired, I’m sorry, see you soon, kisses, love you.

Trump’s need to kiss the asses of the celebrities on his show is so overwhelming that he even yelled at Ivanka last night, sort of, when she said something about Andrew Dice Clay quitting, which Trump himself brought up earlier, but told Ivanka, no, he’s not a quitter.

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