NBCUniversal has a relationship with Donald Trump, the long-time performance artist and host of its NBC reality competition show The Apprentice, that’s strikingly similar to the one between the Donald and the Romney campaign McKay Coppins described in one of what will be one of many post-mortems of the campaign:
Among the savvy sophisticates who populated the campaign headquarters in Boston, Trump was viewed as a joke and a blowhard — an outrageous figure whose fixation on Obama’s birth certificate was, at once, bizarre and off-putting, according to campaign sources. But he was also popular among the very voters Romney was most concerned about winning over. And the candidate’s aides believed — perhaps naively — that if they could win his endorsement, they might be able to win the hearts of his many conservative fans. “He played very well with blue-collar-type Republicans, and the campaign saw that,” said one source in Trump’s camp. “If you have no education, and you work with your hands, you like him. It’s like, ‘Wow, if I was rich, that’s how I would live!’ The girls, the cars, the fancy suits. His ostentatiousness is appealing to them.”
For NBC, The Apprentice is a product similar to a Trump political endorsement. It’s relatively cheap to buy, in part because it’s heavily supported by product placement. It channels the things that make Trump irritating, his presumptions of expertise, his abrasiveness, and his showman’s flair, towards reasonably amusing targets. And in its Celebrity Apprentice iteration, the show pulls in stars with their own followings. For this, Trump got a $130 million contract from NBC last year. But NBC handed down that deal to Trump at the end of an awful year for the network. And now that the ratings landscape–and the political one–are very different, NBC should seriously consider if they want to stay in business with Trump, or if both he and The Apprentice have reached the end of their usefulness.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment