After premiering to its lowest ratings ever at the beginning of the season, NBC’s "The Celebrity Apprentice" definitely turned things around, coming in second place in Sunday’s primetime ratings among the 18-49 viewer demographic. The show gave the network its strongest performance from 8-11 p.m. since the Super Bowl.
The season premiered to 8.9 million viewers — a decrease of 16% from 2008’s debut — but Sunday’s three-hour broadcast averaged 8.7 million viewers overall. The final hour had the highest viewership, with 10.2 million tuning in to watch Joan Rivers beat out poker player Annie Duke.
Historically, the finale has done better for NBC. Last year’s two-hour season finale, won by British newsman Piers Morgan, had 12.1 million viewers. And in 2004, the first season finale for the program had a huge 28.1 million tally.
Still, the show won the 10 p.m. hour, beating out ABC’s "Brothers & Sisters" (8.8 million) and CBS’ "The Unit" (9.7 million). But "Desperate Housewives" was the winner of the evening, scoring 12.1 million viewers for ABC.