By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated April 20, 2004 03:17 PM

Having garnered an audience of 26 million viewers when Donald Trump named him the winner on last Thursday’s finale of “The Apprentice,” Bill Rancic won’t be giving up his TV fans so fast.

NBC is pondering an “Apprentice” spinoff that would follow Rancic, 32, over the next year as he handles his winning job, overseeing construction of a $700 million, 90-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Rancic’s hometown of Chicago.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that the show is strictly in the discussion stage, but that “Apprentice” creator/executive producer Mark Burnett considers such a sequel “a fairly obvious choice.”

According to published reports, the project — which among other considerations would require the demolition of the headquarters of the Chicago Sun-Times — also is still facing the hurdle of final approval from city officials.

But while it remains to be seen what happens in the Windy City, things appear more certain Down Under, where Australia’s Network Nine is looking to do an Aussie version of “The Apprentice,” according to the Reporter.

All it’s missing, however, is a Donald Trump-like figure to serve as host. Kerry Packer, Australia’s richest man — and the owner of Network Nine — has turned down an offer from his own development executives to take the job.