We studied the stability of the restricted circular three-body problem. We introduced a model Hamiltonian in action-angle Delaunay variables. which is nearly-integrable with the perturbing parameter representing the mass ratio of the primaries. We performed a normal form reduction to remove the perturbation in the initial Hamiltonian to higher orders in the perturbing parameter. Next we applied a result on the Nekhoroshev theorem proved by Pöschel  to obtain the confinement in phase space of the action variables (related to the elliptic elements of the minor body) for an exponentially long time. As a concrete application. we selected the Sun-Ceres-Jupiter case, obtaining (after the proper normal form reduction) a stability result for a time comparable to the age of the solar system (i.e., 4.9 · 109 years) and for a mass ratio of the primaries less or equal than 10-6.