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On ‘The Apprentice,’ a Mogul Is Born

December 16, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) _ Donald Trump’s payroll is swelling again.

The real estate mogul was using Thursday’s three-hour season finale of ``The Apprentice″ to decide between lawyer Jennifer Massey, 30, or software executive Kelly Perdew, 37, as his next employee.

The winner of the prime-time game show gets an actual job with a six-figure salary, just like Bill Rancic, who heard the magic words ``you’re hired″ at the end of last season.

NBC did its best to make the finale a big event, renting out a theater in Lincoln Center, bringing Regis Philbin on to host and having the O’Jays perform the show’s theme song, ``For the Love of Money.″

``The Apprentice″ isn’t nearly the hit it was last spring. The show averages just under 16 million viewers, down 19 percent from the 19.6 million it averaged going into the first season’s finale, according to Nielsen Media Research.

And NBC will be hard-pressed to duplicate the audience of 28 million people who watched Rancic’s hire. The network notes that ``The Apprentice″ has been hurt by the loss of ``Friends″ on Thursday night, but that it’s still a top ten show among young people.

Trump, no stranger to hype, has been telling reporters he’s conflicted over who to hire.

``Last year, I felt beforehand I was going to go with Bill,″ he told The Associated Press earlier this week. ``This year, I have no idea. I think they’re both really talented.″

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