<EM>The Apprentice</EM> The Apprentice
Donald Trump was so excited when filming the sexier sixth edition of The Apprentice

— "It's the best we've done," he crows — that he tore off his tie and took off his shoes. "It's different, it's certainly looser," the real-estate tycoon says of the NBC reality show, which returns on Sunday, Jan. 7 (with a 90-minute premiere). TV Guide was offered the exclusive first look at the ramped-up show, which drew just 9.9 million viewers last spring, less than half of 2004's Season 1 average. Here's what to expect.

1. California, Here They Come
The 18 competitors were flown to L.A., bidding goodbye to the show's traditional corporate setting in Manhattan. But moving to the West Coast doesn't mean hanging out by the pool and soaking up the rays (at least not all the time). The ambitious Trump wannabes are still ruthlessly vying for a six-figure job with the entrepreneurial mogul.

2. Apprentice Goes Survivor (Sort Of)
Each week's winning team will "live like kings" in a mansion overlooking Beverly Hills, Trump reveals. And the others? "The losers live like hell," sleeping in two tents — with no hot showers or closets — which the clueless players have to erect themselves in the estate's backyard, before they even unpack their bags. "It's tough, but not quite Survivor," says Apprentice executive producer Mark Burnett, who created both series. "They're living in L.A. with plenty to eat — and no giant creepy-crawlers. Some take it in stride, but for others, it was very hard to cope," he says. Look for at least one meltdown from a stressed-out player.

3. Spies in the Boardroom 
Old standbys George H. Ross and the recently fired Carolyn Kepcher are out as Trump's advisers in the boardroom, where someone from the losing team is fired each week. In their place, Trump offspring Don Jr., 28, and Ivanka, 25, (pictured above) take turns at the boss' side, along with previous Apprentice winners. Plus, there's a new twist: Each week's winning project manager — who remains the team leader until he or she loses — will also be at the boardroom table offering up an opinion and sizing up the opposition.

4. Swimsuiting Up 
One challenge involves creating and marketing swimsuits on the beach in Santa Monica, and some of the candidates decide to model the merchandise themselves. Maybe that's what leads to what Burnett calls a "vigorous romantic hookup."

5. Rewards, Hollywood-style
Project winners get a trip to the Playboy Mansion to hang with Hugh Hefner and a dinner with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his fabled Spago restaurant. And, of course, there's the perk of that lavish mansion. Says Trump: "One of the great rewards is living like a king, as opposed to living like a dog."

Reality-TV fans, pick up the Dec. 18 issue of TV Guide for the latest on Tim Gunn's possible absence from the new season of Project Runway.

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