Martha Stewart began her foray into prime time Wednesday night, but early returns suggest she may be the one who doesn't fit in.
"The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," one of NBC's more heavily touted new series this fall, premiered to a very underwhelming 7.1 million viewers Wednesday night - way off the performance of any of the previous, Donald Trump-fronted "Apprentices." Its adults 18-49 rating of 2.3 wasn't any good either; the previous two Trump "Apprentice" premieres averaged 6.6 and 7.4 in the demographic.
Stewart's show got buried by an ABC special recapping the first season of "Lost," which pulled in more than 15 million viewers at 8 p.m. That led into the season premiere of "Lost," which, fresh off its Emmy win for best drama, scored its biggest audience (23.5 million viewers) and best adults 18-49 rating (10.2) ever.
The huge numbers for "Lost" eclipsed everything else in the 9 p.m. hour, including the premiere of NBC's "E-Ring." The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced show about the inner workings of the Pentagon managed only 9.1 million viewers and a 2.5 adults 18-49 rating.
That strength carried over some to the premiere of "Invasion," which lost about 30 percent of its lead-in audience but still scored 16.4 million viewers and a healthy 6.8 adults 18-49 rating. Not too many viewers, it appears, were turned off by the premiere's hurricane-related storyline, in which aliens (or something) use a hurricane hammering South Florida as a guise to take up residence in the local waters.
Both the total audience and the 18-49 rating for "Invasion" are the best at 10 p.m. Wednesday for ABC since "Trista and Ryan's Wedding" in December 2003.
One bright spot elsewhere came from UPN, which scored 4.8 million viewers for the premiere of "America's Next Top Model" and beat "The Apprentice: Martha" in adults and women 18-34, "Top Model's" target audience.
If there's any consolation for Stewart, it might be that her show could face less intense competition next week, when ABC starts rolling out its 8 p.m. comedy block. "George Lopez," which has a one-hour premiere on Sept. 28, averaged a little more than 7 million viewers last year, and new show "Freddie," which debuts the following week, isn't expected to be a breakout hit.