'Housewives' Tops Ratings, 'Apprentice' Slips

The audience for "The Apprentice 2" finale was down sharply over last season, but NBC isn't ready to fire Donald Trump (search): He still gave the network its top-rated show for the week.

Nearly 17 million viewers tuned in last Thursday when Trump picked software executive Kelly Perdew (search) as his latest protege, according to Nielsen Media Research figures released Tuesday.

The audience was down 39 percent compared to the first finale, when an audience of more than 28 million watched Bill Rancic (search) win the competition last April.

NBC's decision to stretch the latest finale over three hours helped dilute the rating. But even in the second hour, "The Apprentice" was beaten by a rerun of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" on CBS.

"The Apprentice" may not be the phenomenon it was initially, when "You're fired!" took hold as a national catchphrase, but it remains a success for NBC and was its sole top 10 show for the week of Dec. 13.

ABC had the No. 1 show as the "Desperate Housewives" juggernaut continued. But CBS, which fielded eight of the top 10 programs, was the most-watched network and posted its sixth consecutive victory among advertiser-favored viewers 18 to 49.

In what CBS couldn't resist billing a "Very Merry Jerry Week," five of its top shows were from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, including the three "CSI" dramas, "Cold Case" and "Without a Trace."

CBS drew an average 12.6 million viewers (8.3 rating, 14 share), followed by NBC with 9.8 million viewers (6.5, 11). ABC was third with 9.6 million viewers (6.2, 10) while Fox averaged 5.9 million viewers (3.7, 6).

UPN was watched by 3.54 million viewers (2.4, 4), WB had 3 million viewers (2.0, 3) and Pax drew 600,000 viewers (0.4, 1).

NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 10.3 million viewers (7.2 rating, 14 share). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 9.6 million (6.7, 13) and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.3 million (5.2, 10).

A ratings point represents 1,084,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 108.4 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Dec. 13-19, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Desperate Housewives," ABC, 22.3 million; "CSI: Miami," CBS, 20.5 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 19.5 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 18.6 million; "The Apprentice 2," NBC, 16.9 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 16.22 million; "Without a Trace," CBS, 16.20 million; "Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 15.9 million; "CSI: NY," CBS, 15.6 million; "Cold Case," CBS, 14.8 million.