Want more proof of "Flavor of Love's" pop culture relevance? According to Variety, the 2006 finale of "Flavor of Love 2" was the most popular cable show ever among viewers age 18 to 49. A total of 4.9 million viewers from that demographic tuned in, which at the time, made the show outrank "episodes of original cable series among adults 18-49 on FX, MTV, TBS, TNT, USA and all other" cable networks.
As with contests for a heart, contests for a job can get ugly. Enter NBC's "The Apprentice," the "Ultimate Job Interview" in which budding business people vie for $250,000 and a chance to work with captain of industry and Monopoly man personification Donald Trump. Like "Survivor," "The Apprentice" was the brainchild of Mark Burnett, who emerged as a genius of reality TV during the decade. When season one debuted in 2004, Trump's star immediately skyrocketed, as did his signature line, "You're fired!" and the profiles of several of "The Apprentice's" fiery first contenders. (Who can forget foul-mouthed Omarosa?)
The show also bred a bevy of like-minded series -- household icon Martha Stewart started her own version on NBC; rap mogul Diddy took to VH1 with "I Want to Work for Diddy." "The Apprentice" ran in its original form for six seasons; the seventh and eighth iterations featured celebrities competing for charity. A ninth go around is scheduled for the coming spring.
"You wanna be on top?" The CW's "America's Next Top Model," better known as "ANTM," pioneered that phrase while launching host Tyra Banks' career off the runway. Dumping a group of wannabe fashion icons onto one stage and into one house is a recipe for entertainment. From posing for the camera to crying over makeovers to tugging at each other's hair extensions, the women competing on "ANTM" have what it takes to make it on reality TV, if not in the modeling industry at large. Since the series' 2003 debut, none of "ANTM's" 13 winners have risen to household name status, but Banks parlayed her hosting gig into her own daytime talk show. Guess she's really the one on top.
Some, as in the case of "ANTM's" contestants, are born physically blessed. Others, as in the case of the original "Extreme Makeover's" contestants, are well, not. Hence the 2002 ABC series in which average Joes and Janes volunteered to undergo extensive makeovers often involving plastic surgery, exercise regimens and a new wardrobe. While audiences gobbled up the series the year it premiered -- an average 11.2 million people tuned in for each episode --"Extreme Makeover's" fan base dropped following criticism of the show's encouraging of superficial values and a 2005 controversy in which the sister of a former contestant committed suicide after she was dropped from the show.
Though the original "Extreme Makeover" was taken off the air in 2007, the franchise was already expanding thanks to "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," in which host Ty Pennington and a team of helpers build a new home for families hit by a natural disaster, debilitating illness or other hardship. With both do-it-yourself and feel-good appeal, the show remains one of ABC's most popular reality series.