NBC, which publicly parted ways with Donald Trump in June, said it will not broadcast a new version of Celebrity Apprentice this season, but the show will return in 2016 "with a new host," NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said. Whoever that is will need to "make noise and be a big personality," he added.
If Trump isn't elected president, could he return as Celebrity Apprentice host? "Absolutely not," said Greenblatt. The network is also "almost done" selling off its interest in the Miss USA Pageant, which Trump co-owns.
Comedy Struggles and Thursday Night
Of course, there's a little more than that weighing on the network boss as he looks ahead to fall. Even though NBC was the No. 1 network last season among adults ages 18 to 49 for the second year in a row, its trouble spots remain—comedies and its Thursday night lineup.
"The fall is sort of a clean start for all of us, which I'm happy about," said Greenblatt.
"We've been in a difficult transition in the last couple years," Greenblatt said, with the departure of 30 Rock, The Office and Parks and Recreation. "And frankly, we've struggled to find those classy new anchor shows."
This fall, Greenblatt moved his only comedies to Friday night: Undateable, which will broadcast all its episodes live this season, and new sitcom Truth Be Told. "You probably think that's the scheduling graveyard, but in fact we do have good circulation on that night," he said.
Greenblatt also bolstered NBC's comedy-development slate by announcing two big deals. The network has placed a 13-episode series order for a new comedy from Parks and Recreation co-creator Mike Schur. A Good Place is "a high concept comedy about a woman wrestling with what it means to be good," said Greenblatt.
NBC also ordered a pilot from 30 Rock co-creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock about a millennial woman working for a cable network. (Of course, the last show Fey and Carlock created for NBC, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, ended up on Netflix.)
Greenblatt defended his decision to revive Craig T. Nelson's hit '90s series Coach, which is coming back midseason (it originally aired on ABC). "We just thought it was a great idea. One man's practical joke is another man's hit show." He added, "If that works, then ALF: The Series is next."
Live Shows and Late-Night
NBC is embracing live programming more than any other network this fall, with a live variety show from Neil Patrick Harris and December's The Wiz Live! "I'm a live junkie," said Greenblatt. "It's one of the tools we have available to us to try to compel the audience to watch something when we program it. Our business really depends on people watching in a certain time period."
An ongoing strength for NBC is late-night, and Greenblatt announced the network has extended its contract with Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, now locked in through fall 2021.
The Age of Aquarius
Looking back at this summer, Greenblatt said he had no regrets about renewing Aquarius for a second season despite recently relegating the show to Saturday night. "I'm never going to apologize for renewing a show that I think is creatively superb," he said.
Greenblatt did share some intriguing data on Aquarius: Only 6 percent of the audience watched online, but the median age of its online viewers was 35, 15 years younger than the network's median age.