NBC is taking the premiere of "Celebrity Apprentice" out of the cross-hairs of the last original episode of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" . . . or so it seems.

NBC on Wednesday said that it will push the launch of "Apprentice" from Jan. 3 to Jan. 10, expanding "Deal or No Deal" to two hours on Thursday, Jan. 3.

The move follows ABC's midseason schedule announcement yesterday that included the last original episode of "Grey's" airing Jan. 3, leading into the premiere of the new drama "Cashmere Mafia."

But then later in the day Wednesday, ABC said that it would move the premiere of "Cashmere" from Jan. 3 to Jan. 6 where it will air after the last original episode of "Desperate Housewives."

And there is speculation that ABC is also mulling moving the original "Grey's" from Jan. 3, the night of the Iowa caucus, possibly to Jan. 10 where it may again go against the premiere of "Apprentice."

Even without a first-run "Grey's," "Apprentice" is facing an uphill battle in the Thursday 9 p.m. slot where ABC is launching the abbreviated new season of "Lost" Jan. 31.

On Jan. 6, "Cashmere" will replace an original "Brothers & Sisters," which will now air Jan. 15.

In other NBC scheduling news, the network will expand the Dec. 20 finale of "Clash of the Choirs" to two hours. *