Today it was announced that NBC will not renew the Martha Stewart version of The Apprentice due to low ratings. Sadly, I was one of the few folks who actually watched that version, already being a fan of the Trump version. Although this isn't shocking to me, I hate to see a good idea fall apart due to a basic marketing principle that probably cost them the show.
The only real difference in the two Apprentice versions is the mogul hiring the Apprentice, and the closing line to the departing interviewee. Donald made famous the phrase "You're fired." (Well, it was already a well-known phrase at corporations everywhere), but Martha used the softer "You're just not working out for me." - the Dr. Phil-like commentary of "How's that working for ya?" Some complained that the "softness" of the show made it bland. But, I disagree. The tasks were equally challenging and the drama amongst teammates always evident.
The key to Martha's loss is easy. The confusing marketing message of the Apprentice. NBC should have saved this version for an off season between Trump's version, which is gaining high ratings. Having that show as a "filler" would satiate the appetite of Apprentice fans while waiting for the next Trump newbie to be hired. Both of these shows premiered at the same time, on different nights. For the first few weeks, I couldn't remember if Jim, the irritating wild card, was on the Martha version, or the Trump version. (Oh, wait, that was Markus). Only diehard geeks like me would stick it out. Others decided to cut bait of the lesser appealing version (Martha), and commit to the old standby (Trump). It's the age old mistake of mixing your marketing messages. Gee, maybe that needs to be a lesson on an upcoming Apprentice task.
After I read about this cancellation this morning, I got an update this afternoon solidifying my theory. An article on AdAge interviewed Jeff Zucker, President of NBC, discussing the wins and losses of this televison season, and he cited that they never should have put both versions of Apprentice up against each other. Go fig.