Trump Blames Martha Stewart for Ratings Slide


Oct. 19, 2005 — -- Will Donald Trump soon tell Martha Stewart "You're Fired"?

In an exclusive interview with ABC Radio, Trump said that the poorly rated Martha Stewart spinoff "The Apprentice" has caused his own version of the show, now in its fourth season, to lose viewers.

"The numbers are still good," Trump told ABC's David Blaustein. "I think there was confusion between Martha's "Apprentice" and mine. Mine continues to do well, and as you know, the other one has struggled severely."

Stewart's "Apprentice" premiered four weeks ago, drawing a disappointing 7.1 million primetime viewers, running a distant second to ABC's "Lost" in the Wednesday time slot. The show fell to 6.22 million in its second outing.

Two weeks ago, the show was moved from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET, where it fared slightly better, but still not as well as had been expected.

Trump's show has also suffered. The fourth season opened to its lowest ratings to date. Through much of the season, audience levels have been off almost 40 percent, with a weekly average of fewer than 10 million viewers.

"I think it [Stewart's show] probably hurt mine and I sort of predicted that it would, because there was a lot of confusion in the world," Trump said.

In its new time slot, Stewart's show must now face off with ABC's "Lost," which has been surging in the ratings after winning a Primetime Emmy. Trump's own show also faces stiff competition on Thursday from CBS' top-rated "CSI."

As to whether Stewart's show will continue, Trump said it was not his decision alone to make. "That's really up to [producer] Mark Burnett and myself and NBC," he said. "But it certainly has struggled mightily."

Burnett told the Los Angeles Times recently that he was upset that Stewart's show was shifted to the new time slot. NBC made the switch in an attempt to bolster its military drama "E-Ring" and to save Stewart's "Apprentice" from going head-to-head with another top reality show, UPN's "America's Next Top Model."

Trump has nevertheless already started on his own fifth season of reality TV. "We're shooting it as we speak and it'll be very interesting. I think it's a very good show."

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