Long since usurped by a version featuring semi-celebrities, the original civilian incarnatiom of "The Apprentice" is ready to make a comeback on NBC.
 
Mark Burnett and Donald Trump are panning to give "The Apprentice" a recession-friendly twist, opening the boardroom to candidates impacted by the declining job market.
 
"'The Apprentice' is a proven brand, and we believe its return is more relevant than ever since it will provide new hope for many Americans struggling in this difficult job market," states Paul Telegdy, executive vice president for alternative programming for NBC and Universal Media Studios. "Donald is going to be even more involved as he offers fantastic opportunities for the American worker, while the search for a quality job will resonate with contemporary viewers."
 
The exact definition for what constitutes being a victim of the economic downturn appears to be a little fuzzy and can include everybody from new college graduates struggling to find jobs to long-term employees made redundant in recent cutbacks.
 
Trump is just pleased to be doing charitable work.
 
"I am very excited to return to the original premise of 'The Apprentice,'" Trump states. "We've got to do something about the economy and this is a terrific way to provide jobs as well as business lessons along the way. NBC, Mark Burnett and I hope this economic downturn can begin a turnaround, and we'll do our best with 'The Apprentice' to see that it starts happening. I'm proud to be putting people back to work, and to positively changing the psychology of America."
 
Adds Burnett, "'The Celebrity Apprentice' continues to be great TV while doing genuine good for charities. I am glad we are also bringing back the original 'Apprentice' and hope we can use America's most compelling televised business contest to continue to do good. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, millions of Americans have accepted jobs they don't like and millions of Americans are about to leave school looking for a job. This year's 'Apprentice' will feature a cast selected from these three areas. And even though only one will win the prize, all other contestants will get Donald Trump's personal advice to help them find their dream jobs."
 
"The Celebrity Apprentice" premiered on NBC this past Sunday and despite the absence of actual celebrities, it averaged 8.3 million viewers over its two-hour running time.