NEW YORK – Donald Trump will be firing more stars next year when "Celebrity Apprentice" returns for another round.
NBC announced Wednesday that it's rehiring Trump for a ninth season of the reality series, scheduled to air in spring 2010.
Production is expected to begin this fall, when 16 yet-to-be-named celebrities meet and compete in business-oriented challenges. All but one will eventually hear Trump tell them, "You're fired!"
Other details from NBC's 2009-10 season (and the fall prime-time schedule) will be formally unveiled by the network on Monday.
Although none of the celebrities for the forthcoming "Apprentice" were identified, deals already are in place with "a couple" of them, Trump said in an interview. "We turn down five for every one we take."
The news of more "Celebrity Apprentice" came as the show's current season heads into its home stretch. Country music's Clint Black, poker champ Annie Duke, former "Monster Garage" host Jesse James, Playboy pinup Brande Roderick and comedian Joan Rivers remain in contention.
The finale will air Sunday, May 10, at 8 p.m. EDT.
The current season has demonstrated the series' durability, drawing an average of 8.6 million viewers each week.
"There's something very captivating about having a major success with a television show," said Trump, a business mogul who clinched star status of his own when he premiered "The Apprentice" in January 2004.
"I've learned from it," he said. "I've learned watching what people do under pressure. I love to see how people react under great stress."
For example, he marveled at the eruption by Joan Rivers on last week's show after her daughter, Melissa, was fired. Blasting the players who allegedly had plotted her daughter's downfall, Rivers called Roderick a "stupid blonde" and Duke a "white trash" poker player.
"That was an interesting reaction," Trump said. "I thought Joan would be much different than that."
NBC is owned by NBC Universal.