By Todd Peterson
Updated April 05, 2004 01:00 PM

It’s not so much a “whodunit” as it is a “how’d they do it?”

The “who” is Donald Trump and his narrowing cast of Trump wannabes on the hugely popular reality series “The Apprentice.” The “crime” is the way in which the ratings for this new program have dispatched one of network TV’s most successful shows, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

In its Thursday night matchup, “CSI” continued its head-to-head competition with NBC’s new show since the network moved “The Apprentice” opposite the crime drama a couple months ago. Only this time, “The Apprentice” won, Reuters reports.

That marks a first for the reality series, and it likely spells good news for Trump, who hosted “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend. CBS’s “CSI” has had a stranglehold on that time slot, and the series has proven so popular that one spinoff, “CSI: Miami,” has already taken off, while another, “CSI: New York,” is set for next season.

But despite The Donald’s upset of Las Vegas’s favorite criminologists, a new analysis of television ratings indicates that reality TV isn’t about to kill dramas and comedies altogether, Reuters reports.

While viewing of reality-based shows such as “Survivor,” “Average Joe” and Paris Hilton’s “The Simple Life” are up, the report by Steve Sternberg of advertising group Magna Global found that viewers aren’t turning to one type of program over another.

“As always, viewers don’t watch networks, nor do they watch genres — they watch programs,” Sternberg wrote in his report. “They don’t watch ‘Survivor,’ ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Apprentice’ because the industry labels them as reality series. They watch them because they’re good shows.”