Credit: John Russo/NBC

The Project Runway concept takes a step forward -- toward the cash register -- in this new elimination battle, which 14 fledging designers seek to wow buyers for H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. Each week, the winning looks go on sale the next day at one of those retailers!

Along the way, Nicole Richie, Jessica Simpson and menswear guru John Varvatos mentor the competitors and offer runway commentary.

If all that sounds as dizzying as a busy print, it is.

Making matters worse, the presentations in Tuesday's 90-minute plug-o-rama -- er, premiere -- are laughably overblown. (Fog machines? Really?)

The editing, too, is notably inept, with awkward transitions and segments that are either overlong or given short shrift.

As for the mentors, they start off chemistry-challenged but gel in episode 2, thanks to Simpson's every-woman charm and Richie's tough love.

The hungry competitors, meanwhile, create hold-your-breath moments as they wait for a buyer to bid.

Despite Fashion Star's flaws, that delicious anticipation helps make it work.

(NBC, 9:30 p.m.)