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"The Apprentice" dumping celebrities in favor of actual workers


Celebrities are out -- unemployed John Does are in, as NBC tries again to breathe life into its "The Apprentice" franchise.

The news comes just three days after the new-season debut of "The Celebrity Apprentice" got clobbered by CBS's "Undercover Boss." The two shows attracted 8.3 million viewers and 13.3 million viewers on Sunday, respectively.

"The Celebrity Apprentice" this season is following the histrionics of Sharon Osbourne, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and Bret Michaels, among others. In sharp contradistinction, CBS's new reality series "Undercover Boss" follows CEO's of various companies as they go undercover to mingle with the little people in their company and figure out how their middle managers are bungling their vision and making the employees's lives a perfect hell.

It appears the NBC show's star may be being re-cast as a well, as a kinder, gentler Donald Trump; the network says he will be "even more hands-on as he welcomes 14 candidates affected by the economic downturn and seeking a new start."

"We've got to do something about the economy and this is a terrific way to provide jobs as well as business lessons along the way," Trump said in Monday's announcement.

"NBC, Mark Burnett and I hope this economic downturn can begin a turnaround, and we'll do our best with 'The Apprentice' to see that it starts happening. I'm proud to be putting people back to work, and to positively changing the psychology of America."

Added Burnett: "Even though only one will win the prize, all other contestants will get Donald Trump's personal advice to help them find their dream jobs."

Trump will "give the opportunity of their careers" to 14 new candidates who have been hit hard by the current economic downturn, the network said. They're looking for "talented and bright prospects who have lost their jobs with no hope in sight," as well as people who are currently holding down jobs they don't like just to make ends meet, and recent college grads who can't find a job.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 17, 2010; 6:24 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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