NEW YORK (AP) _ McGraw-Hill Inc. said Tuesday that David Ferm has been selected as publisher of Business Week magazine.

Ferm, 45, has been with the New York Times Co. since 1980 and was most recently publisher of its Golf Digest magazine and headed The Golf Co., which oversees the company's golf publications and other golf-related activities.

He replaces John W. Patten as publisher of Business Week, a post Patten has held since 1985. The appointment is effective next Monday.

Patten has also been serving since 1992 as president of McGraw-Hill's Business Week Group which oversees the magazine's foreign and special editions and an executive conference program and will remain in that post.

Harold McGraw III, president and chief operating officer at McGraw-Hill, said Ferm ''is an experienced publisher with a proven track record'' who can lead Business Week to ''new levels of growth here and abroad.''

The New York Times Co. said James W. Fitzgerald, 54, president and chief executive of its sports-leisure magazines group, would assume Ferm's responsibilities at Golf Digest and The Golf Co.

Business Week has been in a fierce fight for advertising with other business publications like Fortune and Forbes.

For the first 10 months of the year, Business Week's ad pages have fallen 5.7 percent to 2,700 while Forbes is up 5.3 percent at 3,078 and Fortune gained 3.2 percent to 2,158, according to figures from Publishers' Information Bureau.

Pages at Ferm's former magazine, Golf Digest, were up 5.4 percent at 1,178 from January through October, while the 179 consumer magazines tracked by PIB were up an average of 1.3 percent for the period.

Business Week's circulation has held fairly steady over the past year but it still has a substantial lead over its competitors.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations said Business Week's North American edition had average circulation of 896,139 in the six months ended June 30 compared with 767,789 at Forbes and 777,958 for Fortune's North American edition.