04/12/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
Donald Trump won't be firing Nielsen Media Research anytime soon.
In numbers provided by the ratings service, last Thursday's penultimate episode of his NBC reality series "The Apprentice" drew 21.8 million viewers, beating the CBS war-horse "Survivor: All-Stars," which attracted 20.2 million (a still-excellent showing).
Meanwhile, in a carefully orchestrated build-up to this Thursday's live, two-hour "Apprentice" finale, the 57-year-old real-estate mogul will be just about everywhere on the tube. (Last week he even sat down with Ellen DeGeneres on her syndicated daytime NBC show and noticed her "beautiful" mother in the audience. "She's available, if you're interested," Ellen shot back at him.)
Monday at 8 p.m., NBC's "Fear Factor" is due to feature Miss USA contestants, followed at 9 p.m. by the pageant itself, which is owned by Trump. On NBC-owned MSNBC at 9 p.m., Trump advisers George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher will chew the fat with Deborah Norville.
Then on Wednesday night, NBC will broadcast an "Apprentice" repeat at 8 p.m., followed a "Dateline NBC" look behind the scenes of the series at 9 p.m., with series producer Mark Burnett (who also produces "Survivor").
And don't look for everything to come to an end with Thursday's finale. A special two-hour "Dateline Friday" will feature a lengthy profile of the Donald and his latest book, "Trump: How to Get Rich." Earlier on Thursday, the "Today" show is planning to talk to 14 "Apprentice" contestants to discuss the finale.
And for those who wish to get a bit of Trump's action into their wallets, Bank One Corp. is now offering a Donald Trump-branded credit card under an agreement announced last week. Trump Rewards Visa cardholders will earn credits that can be redeemed at select Trump hotels and casinos.
"The Trump Visa card is the best deal ever for Visa customers. Saying 'no' to this card could get you fired," Trump said in a press release.