'The Apprentice' to Return With Celebs

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By LYNN ELBER
The Associated Press
Monday, July 16, 2007; 11:15 PM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Check your publicist at the boardroom door _ NBC is inviting celebrities to try to wow Donald Trump in the next version of "The Apprentice." And while it would make for a marquee matchup, don't expect Rosie O'Donnell to be among them.

"It will never happen in this lifetime or beyond," said Cindi Berger, O'Donnell's spokeswoman.

The network announced Monday that the game show will be back in the middle of next season with the celebrity twist, the winner donating proceeds to charity instead of going to work for The Donald.

NBC had canceled "The Apprentice" due to low ratings when it announced its next season schedule in May. But the network hired Ben Silverman as its new entertainment chief shortly thereafter, and he called on Trump and executive producer Mark Burnett to revive the show.

No contestants were named in NBC's announcement. The network said it was looking for people with entreprenurial abilities in the areas of sports, entertainment and fashion.

Which, of course, raised the question of O'Donnell, Trump's nemesis, maybe getting involved.

"It would be great to have Rosie on `The Apprentice,'" Silverman said at a morning Television Critics Association news conference. "Donald personally told me to extend an invitation to her."

NBC entertainment co-chairman Marc Graboff echoed Silverman's comment, saying "we'd love her" to be on the show.

O'Donnell's spokeswoman, however, quickly put a freeze on the idea. She did confirm, though, that the former talk host and "The View" panelist was in talks with NBC about other projects.

NBC also announced Monday that it would be getting into some mind games for another series. It has signed a deal with magician Criss Angel and Uri Geller for a competition where they will search for the next great mentalist.

Also, Jerry Seinfeld is returning to NBC next season _ if only briefly. The network said Seinfeld would appear as a guest on the Oct. 4 season opener of "30 Rock," coming back to his Thursday-night turf.

"I was thrilled to be asked to guest star on NBC's hit comedy '30 Rock,'" Seinfeld said. "I think it's going to be so refreshing for me to be playing myself in a show that has nothing to do with neurotic, dysfunctional New York characters."

NBC also announced Monday that it has signed a series deal with producer Norman Lear of "All in the Family Fame." The show will be a one-hour drama-comedy about the battle of the sexes and will be set on Wall Street. The network is "circling" a-list actors and actresses for the show, Silverman said.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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