The Apollo Theater is the stage for this weekly syndicated television series, which has showcased the most popular R&B, Rap, and Hip-Hop musicians on the Billboard charts since 1987. However, the most popular segment of the show is Amateur Night, where the producers choose the best and the worst of audition tapes sent in to them, and let them have the stage for one minute. If the performer is awful to the audience, they let them know and will end up being greeted by the sandman, who comes out and does crazy hijinks to cheer up the crowd.

Produced by New York City radio station owner Percy Sutton during its first 15 seasons, the program is now in the hands of new producer Suzanne De Passe, who produced the sitcom Sister, Sister and was a Motown Records A&R director from the Berry Gordy years (Sutton now produces a program with an identical format from Brooklyn named Showtime in Harlem). The new host is Mo'Nique, from UPN's The Parkers, and "Man on the Street" segments with Christopher "Kid" Reid of the 80's rap duo Kid 'N Play. Previous hosts have included the late comedian Rick Aviles, Star Search alum Sinbad, Steve Harvey, and Rudy Rush (who now hosts Harlem). The New Apollo has a similar format to its predecessor, but with a fancier set and graphics.