Sharon Cotliar and Stephen M. Silverman
February 02, 2005 04:00 PM

Martha Stewart has a new reality to look forward to after prison: She’s been hired to star in a new spinoff of NBC’s hit The Apprentice, Donald Trump and show creator Mark Burnett announced Wednesday.

Trump and Burnett, joined by NBC head Jeff Zucker, said the new show will be called The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. No word yet on when the show will premiere, or even start shooting, but the announcement confirms rumors that had been swirling in TV circles for weeks.

“Mark and I began discussing this expansion of our business back during Martha’s legal problems,” Trump, 58, said in a conference call. Stewart, 63, who was convicted on obstruction of justice charges last year, will complete a five-month sentence in an Alderson, W. Va., prison in March, after which she will serve five months under house arrest.

“I’m a good friend of Martha’s,” Trump continued, “and I’ve learned one thing fairly recently over the last couple of years. She’s a very brave woman. Very few people could have withstood what she’s withstood. She’s gone through a tough time and she’s done it admirably and very bravely.”

Few details about the show were released, except Zucker said the format will mirror the current Apprentice. Sixteen to eighteen contestants will compete against each other for the chance to win a job working for Stewart’s company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. NBC also already started the casting process.

As part of the terms of her sentence, entrepreneur Stewart is prohibited from conducting business while behind bars. Burnett, however, stressed: “(Over) the last four months, Martha’s been incarcerated and has given no input.”

Also in the works for Stewart is a daily syndicated homemaking show on NBC to start next September and feature a live audience and celebrity guests.

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