The Apprentice (U.S. TV series)

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The Apprentice
The Apprentice Logo.png
Genre Reality game show
Created by Mark Burnett
Starring Donald Trump
Carolyn Kepcher (2003–6)
George H. Ross
Bill Rancic (2004–9)
Ivanka Trump (2006–)
Donald Trump, Jr. (2006–)
Eric Trump (2010–)
Theme music composer Kenneth Gamble
Leon Huff
Anthony Jackson
Opening theme "For the Love of Money" by The O'Jays
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 14
No. of episodes 185 (as of February 16, 2015)
Producer(s) Mark Burnett
Donald Trump
Location(s) New York City, NY, United States
Running time 60 minutes (seasons 1–7, 10)
120 minutes (seasons 8–9, 11–)
Production company(s) Trump Productions
Mark Burnett Productions (seasons 1–13)
United Artists Media Group (seasons 14–)
Distributor FremantleMedia Enterprises
MGM Worldwide Television
Original channel NBC
Original run January 8, 2004 (2004-01-08) – present
Related shows Celebrity Apprentice
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
Donald J. Trump Presents The Ultimate Merger

The Apprentice is an American reality game show hosted by real estate magnate, businessman and television personality Donald Trump. The show is broadcast on NBC and created by English-born American television producer Mark Burnett. The series is the U.S. version and the original in what is a television show franchise known as The Apprentice. Billed as "The Ultimate Job Interview", the U.S. version stars sixteen to eighteen business people competing in an elimination competition. The prize is a one-year, $250,000 starting contract to run one of Trump's companies. Each episode typically ends with Trump eliminating one of the contestants with the words, "You're fired" (which has become a locution of the program and Trump).

The show first aired in January 2004 and has run for 14 seasons thus far, counting the seasons of the original Apprentice format, as well as the Celebrity Apprentice.


The Apprentice is a reality television show with each season beginning with a group of contestants vying to earn a place in one of Donald Trump's organizations. The contestants (who are referred to as candidates) come from backgrounds in various enterprises, but typically include backgrounds in real estate, accounting, restaurant management, consulting management, sales, and marketing. During the show, these contestants live in a communal penthouse, allowing their relationships to build. The only exception however, was in the sixth season, when the show moved to Los Angeles; Teams had been separated, with the winning team living in a mansion and the losing team taking up residence in tents located in the mansion's backyard. These candidates are placed into teams, and each week are assigned a task and required to select a project manager for the task. The winning team receives a reward, while the losing team faces a boardroom meeting in order to determine which team member should be fired and eliminated from the show.

Eliminations proceed in two stages. In the first stage, the entire team is confronted with their loss in a boardroom meeting. The project manager is then asked to select up to either one, two, or three of their team members who are believed to belong in the final boardroom meeting. In the second stage, the rest of the team is dismissed, while the project manager and the selected members face a final boardroom showdown where at least one of the candidates is fired and subsequently leaves the show.

Trump reserves the right at times to do the following: not allow the losing project manager to choose who goes into the boardroom for a final hearing, fire any candidate without a final boardroom session if there's enough information to warrant so, and fire multiple people if they are found liable for an unsatisfactory performance. On occasion, candidates will leave on their own free will; while this is usually discouraged, Trump does accept their resignation(s). When the final three or four candidates are left, an interview process typically begins, involving executives from various companies who interview each of the finalists and report their assessments of them to Trump. After which, a firing takes place where one or two people are usually fired.

(With the exception of the sixth season) The final two are then assigned different tasks, along with support teams composed of previously fired candidates. After the tasks are done, a final boardroom occurs, with testimonials from the team members and a last chance for the final two candidates to prove themselves to the target CEO. Finally, Trump hires one of the two candidates to become his Apprentice.

The opening theme music used on the show is "For the Love of Money", a 1973 R&B song by The O'Jays.[1]


The first season aired during the winter and the spring of 2004. The Apprentice is produced and created by Mark Burnett and is hosted by real estate magnate, Donald Trump, who also serves as co-producer of the show. The premise of the show, which bills itself as the "ultimate job interview" in the "ultimate jungle," is to conduct a job talent search for a person to head one of Trump's companies. The position starts with an introductory 1-year contract with a starting yearly salary at six figures ($250,000 USD to be exact, roughly $4807.70 USD per week assuming a 52-week work-year). The show led Trump to become known for his fateful catch phrase, "You're fired!" The contestants live communally in a suite at Trump Tower in Manhattan and the boardroom showdown is with Trump and two of his associates (originally Carolyn Kepcher, Former Chief Operating Officer and General Manager for the Trump National Golf Club, and George H. Ross, Executive Vice President and Senior Counsel, The Trump Organization). Season 6, which was the most unsuccessful, saw the show move to Los Angeles.

In late August 2006, Donald Trump released Carolyn Kepcher from her duties at the Trump organization saying only that he "wishes her the best." No official reason has been given for her being fired from the company, but Kepcher was quoted as saying "After 11 years with the Trump Organization, Donald and I had different visions for my future role in the company." Her future role on The Apprentice has not been confirmed, although Kepcher has appeared on tape for the 6th season one or two times. Ivanka Trump appeared in a similar role on the show as Kepcher's, but was not an official replacement.[2]

Known for his tendency to surround himself with beautiful women, Trump's on-screen (and real-life) assistants have each grown in personal fame. Two assistants appeared jointly for the first five seasons: Rhona Graff and Robin Himmler. In the sixth season, Trump elected to have his newest executive assistant, Andi Rowntree, star in the LA-based show. For the Celebrity Apprentice, Annette Dziamba appeared for the seventh season, and Amanda Miller for the eighth, ninth, tenth, and so on.

On May 14, 2007, the series was left off NBC's schedule but NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said he was still in discussions with Mark Burnett and Trump.[3] However, on May 19, 2007, Trump announced that he was "moving on from The Apprentice to a major new TV venture", effectively ending the series in the United States.[4] But on May 22, 2007, NBC announced The Apprentice might return next season even though Trump had said he quit.[5]


The Apprentice also spawned a reality television dating game show. On June 17, 2010, Donald J. Trump Presents The Ultimate Merger premiered on TV One. The series stars Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, a former political consultant who in 2004 appeared on the first season of The Apprentice and once again in 2008 on the first celebrity edition of the show.[6] Each of the twelve contestants vying for the affections of Manigault-Stallworth were selected by Trump himself.[7]

Martha Stewart[edit]

On February 2, 2005, NBC announced that they would broadcast the first spin-off from The Apprentice, called The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. The show, which ran from September 21 to December 21, 2005 was hosted by Martha Stewart, who was the first woman in the world to become a self-made billionaire. It kept the format of the original series but changed a few elements to fit Stewart's personality. Trump was one of the executive producers of the show and castings were held in 27 cities across the United States.

The fourth season of The Apprentice earned less than spectacular ratings, while The Apprentice: Martha Stewart struggled. Trump claimed that there was "confusion" between the two shows. There has also been talk that Trump did not want Stewart to host the spin-off show. NBC announced that it would not bring back the show for a second season, although the network stressed that the show was initially planned to air only for one season. The show averaged between six and seven million viewers. Before the show left, both Donald Trump and Martha Stewart had a fight due to Stewart accusing Trump that he didn't want her to have a successful show, that he might have wanted it jinxed. Trump denied this charge, and both TV stars have not worked together again, and there are no plans for the future.

Statistics by season[edit]

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of The Apprentice on NBC.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

Season Winner Winner's Project Timeslot Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
Finale Viewers
(in millions)
1 Bill Rancic Trump Tower Chicago Thursday 9:00PM January 8, 2004 April 15, 2004 2003-04 7 20.7[8] 28.1[9]
2 Kelly Perdew Trump Place September 9, 2004 December 16, 2004 2004-05 11 16.1[10] 16.9[11]
3 Kendra Todd Palm Beach Mansion January 20, 2005 May 19, 2005 15 14.0[10] 14.0[12]
4 Randal Pinkett Trump Entertainment September 22, 2005 December 15, 2005 2005-06 38 11.0[13] 12.8[14]
5 Sean Yazbeck Trump SoHo Monday 9:00PM February 27, 2006 June 5, 2006 51 9.7[13] 11.3[15]
6 Stefani Schaeffer Cap Cana Sunday 10:00PM January 7, 2007 April 22, 2007 2006-07 75 7.5[16] 10.6
10 Brandy Kuentzel N/A Thursday 10:00PM September 16, 2010 December 9, 2010 2010-11 113 4.7[17] 4.5
(Note: Given the show has a sequel TV series known as Celebrity Apprentice, the above chart is continued on the article of the show's follow-up TV series, found under "statistics by season" for Celebrity Apprentice. Note as well that season 10 is included in the above chart given the show reverted back to The Apprentice for that season)

The Apprentice was the breakout rookie hit of the 2003–04 U.S. television season and helped NBC at a time when the network's two long-running successful comedies, Friends and Frasier, were ending their series' runs. The Apprentice filled the void on Thursday nights as NBC held on to the tagline Must See TV, even though CBS was quickly becoming the most-watched network on Thursday night.

Although the series is still one of the most-watched programs on NBC in the advertiser-friendly 18–49 age demographic, the franchise's total audience gradually dissolved, starting in late 2004, when it aired its second season that culminated in, what most Apprentice fans deem, an "overextended"[18] 3-hour season finale on December 16, 2004.

The audience numbers (11.25 million viewers)[19] for the June 5, 2006 fifth season finale were not factored in the fifth season average because it aired after the official television season ended.

The audience numbers for the show have still remained on the decline since its first season. Originally, NBC aired the sixth season of The Apprentice, competing against both immensely popular series, Desperate Housewives and Cold Case, just a few weeks before competing against Brothers & Sisters and Cold Case.

Teams by Season[edit]

Season Team name Overall record as a team
1 Versacorp 5-7
1 Protégé 7-5
2 Mosaic 8-5
2 Apex 5-8
3 Magna 10-4
3 Net Worth 3-11
4 Capital Edge 4-7
4 Excel 7-4
5 Gold Rush 5-8
5 Synergy 8-5
6 Arrow 5-5
6 Kinetic 5-5
10 Fortitude 4-7
10 Octane 7-4


Whereas winners have been named "executive vice presidents", and given the title of "owner's representative," in actuality, they were employed as publicity spokespeople for the Trump organization. Second season winner Kelly Perdew, on his first day working for Trump, was introduced by his boss to Florida developers working on a Trump-branded condo, the Trump Tower, in Tampa, Florida, where he was told that he would help promote sales of the building by appearing at promotional events.[20]

In the wake of Trump's statements about the current president of the United States, Barack Obama, The Apprentice has been criticized for its involvement with Trump. There have been public calls for NBC to fire Trump from his role on The Apprentice – most notably from sister-network liberal political commentator Lawrence O'Donnell and from the former US Congressman Anthony Weiner.[21] O'Donnell also criticized Trump when Trump was rumored to be running for president for having a problem with women electing him if he did run for president, and for having more men winning The Apprentice than women.[citation needed]

Industry media has speculated on the extent to which Trump's media comments may have contributed to the decrease in the show's ratings,[22][23] as other Trump-associated businesses have suffered since the start of Trump's political campaign.[24] On April 28, 2011, show sponsor Groupon publicly announced that it would no longer do business with The Apprentice.[25] One (anonymous) Celebrity Apprentice contestant even announced an intention to boycott the May 15 taping of the season 7 finale, unless forced by contract to appear.[26][27]

Video game[edit]

Legacy Interactive created a video game version of The Apprentice for the PC. It features Donald Trump and his advisors, as well as past candidates, and is currently available on Yahoo! Games. The player selects either a male or a female character to play and must control the character through a number of tasks including puzzles. The character must create a billboard; sell ice cream, Italian food, or hamburgers; help create toys, chocolates and lamps; and sell items in different neighborhoods.

Similar programs[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Scott C. "DVD Review: The Apprentice – Season One"; December 17, 2005
  2. ^ People Connection AOL
  3. ^ Guthrie, Marisa; "UPFRONT: NBC Unveils Fall Picks"; May 14, 2007
  4. ^ 'The Apprentice' star Donald Trump to NBC: You can't fire me, I quit Reality TV World
  5. ^ Denhart, Andy; "NBC says The Apprentice could return despite Trump’s quitting"; May 22, 2007
  6. ^ "Omarosa: 'The Apprentice' TV show's most popular contestant has the nation talking and watching.", JET, April 12, 2004. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
  7. ^ Woodman, Tenley (June 17, 2010). "Who wants to date a diva?". Boston Herald. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  8. ^ Viewership numbers of primetime programs during the 2003–04 television season
  9. ^ Viewership numbers of primetime programs for the week of April 12–18, 2004
  10. ^ a b Viewership numbers of primetime programs during the 2004–05 television season
  11. ^ Viewership numbers of primetime programs for the week of December 13–19, 2004
  12. ^ Viewership numbers of primetime programs for the week of May 16–22, 2005
  13. ^ a b Viewership numbers of primetime programs during the 2005–06 television season
  14. ^ Viewership numbers of primetime programs for the week of December 12–18, 2005
  15. ^ Viewership numbers of primetime programs for the week of June 5–11, 2006
  16. ^ 2006–07 primetime wrap
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2011-05-27). "Full 2010-11 Season Series Rankings". Deadline Hollywood. Media Corporation. 2010-11 Season: Series Ranking In Total Viewers (in thousands). Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  18. ^ "16.9 million watch Apprentice 2 finale, fewer than last season’s clip show.". Reality Blurred. December 20, 2004. 
  19. ^ " The Programming Insider". Mediaweek. June 14, 2006. [dead link]
  20. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin. "What's Second Prize?"; Reprinted from the May 23, 2007 Newsweek[dead link]
  21. ^ Poor, Jeff (April 8, 2011). "MSNBC Host Wants Parent Company to Fire Trump". The Fox Nation. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  22. ^ Sarlin, Benjy (April 25, 2011). "Is Donald Trump's Media Blitz Wrecking The Apprentice's Ratings?". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  23. ^ Miller, Daniel (May 3, 2011). "Donald Trump's 'Celebrity Apprentice': Why Only One Advertiser Has Fired Him (Analysis)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  24. ^ Hanks, Douglas (May 4, 2011). "A potential Trump run could hurt business brand, some say". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  25. ^ MacMillan, Douglas; Fixmer, Andy (April 29, 2011). "Groupon Won't Place Ads on ‘Apprentice' Site After Complaints About Trump". Bloomberg. 
  26. ^ Sullivan, Molly (May 3, 2011). "One 'Celebrity Apprentice' contestant would boycott finale". Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  27. ^ Shuter, Rob (May 3, 2011). "'Apprentice' Contestant 'Would Boycott the Finale' If They Could". PopEater. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 

External links[edit]