Donald Trump: Presidential Candidate, Trash TV Titan or Both?

Is Donald Trump a "carnival barker"? Are his collective media appearances of late the stuff of a "sideshow"? President Obama seemed to suggest as much during a very brief press conference yesterday in which he attempted to put to rest the largely Trump-fueled frenzy over the validity of his birth documents. 

Perhaps the president was referring to other public figures who have been busily fanning the flames of this latest political controversy when he declared, "We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers," later adding, "We do not have time for this kind of silliness." But as I listened to him, the first name that came to mind was Trump. 

I'll leave it to others to determine whether such words apply to Trump's mission to verify Obama's personal history. I will assert, however, that they describe perfectly the Trump we have been watching this year on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice." 

To give credit where it's due, Trump has made "Celebrity Apprentice" the must-see guilty-pleasure spectacle of the season. Make no mistake: It is pure, unadulterated trash -- but it is one of the few shows with any life on NBC's schedule, and it does generate money for a number of worthwhile charities, so it deserves recognition. And yet, as I watch, I find myself struggling to continually separate the three Trumps --  Reality Show Host/Producer, Business Titan and Possible Presidential Candidate (and, by extension, Possible President) - all the while wondering (and perhaps worrying) how much of the first soaks into the other two.

Flanked by his adult children --- who never, ever challenge or contradict their dad -- Trump blusters, boasts and bulldozes his way through each episode, especially in those riveting board room confrontations, where it's celebrity against celebrity and Trump against all. I'd like to think that the boardroom segments of the show are expertly conceived and orchestrated by Trump to be exactly what they are - sizzling, exasperating, wholly engaging and a triumph of irresistible escapist entertainment. I'd also like to think that they in no way reflect how Trump and his executives conduct themselves in their real-life businesses. 

Consider the following: In the boardroom segments this season, we have seen Trump make inappropriate and irrelevant comments about the physical characteristics of two female contestants -- specifically, actress Lisa Rinna's lips and belligerent talk show personality Star Jones' behind. Try doing that during a meeting in your office without landing in Human Resources before day's end. We have seen Trump refuse to act on a complaint from deaf actress Marlee Matlin, who was made to feel demeaned on the job by another contestant (Dionne Warwick, a shocking study in unpleasantness) because she is unable to hear. Isn't that grounds for probation or a dressing-down by the boss? And how about that epic verbal assault by anger-management-challenged singer Meat Loaf against out-there actor Gary Busey? When Trump heard about it, shouldn't he have shown Meat the door? Go throw a tantrum and scream a few choice obscenities at a co-worker in the middle of your office and see what happens.

And speaking of Busey, who suffered a severe head injury about 23 years ago and has for whatever reason acted in an increasingly eccentric manner ever since, was it right for Trump to use the word "moron" when talking to or about him? Discuss. 

Trump has also played fast and loose with the show's standards, firing LaToya Jackson because she might have been a weak player moving forward, rather than terminating the thoroughly obnoxious ratings magnet Star Jones, who, as ferociously controlling project manager, was 100% percent responsible for her team's epic fail in last Sunday's challenge. Of course, if he'd done that, we wouldn't have this week's titanic showdown between Star Jones and bombastic "Real Housewife" NeNe Leakes to look forward to, would we? 

We have seen questionable behavior on this show before. Trump has always enjoyed putting his contestants on the spot and goading them into attacking each other (or defending themselves, as he might see it). None of that ever really mattered. But this time, "Celebrity Apprentice" is playing out as people are seeking a deeper understanding of Trump's character, given his possible political aspirations. He's walking a very interesting line here. 

However things work out, if Trump tops off this season of "Celebrity Apprentice" by announcing that he intends to run for president, it will be one of the television events of the year. That will be a huge accomplishment for an aging franchise on a struggling network, not to mention a Titan of Trash TV.

Tags: television, tv
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5 comments about "Donald Trump: Presidential Candidate, Trash TV Titan or Both?".
  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , April 28, 2011 at 12:26 p.m.

    I wish the White House had completely laid this issue to rest, but the document they released yesterday was a PDF file that had layers that could be unlocked. Too bad they didn't "flatten" the file to make the layers invisible to the wingnuts:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g30VCl_cgk

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , April 28, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.

    Trump reminds people of what feudal lords can accomplish. Not only is he the barker, he is the carnival. Read some Shakespeare if you are that bored. And next time you get screwed or someone attempts to screw you over, you can thank your heros for setting their admirable behavior you cherish, adore and copy.

  3. Curtis Brubaker from BCAT, llc , April 28, 2011 at 1:33 p.m.

    You make a significant mistake in assessing Donald Trump on the strengths of a TV Reality show.

    Trump could be a great President - even Reagan-like, IMO. He already moves and acts like one - a leader who KNOWS how to create wealth and execute w true quality and cost effectiveness (just watch one of the documentaries about his world, his developments and management style - his golf course and hotel empire - he insists on high qualities, superb design and execution, is fair and super compassionate, gives everyone a chance, won't accept BS or his OWN failure and is a methodical and charismatic leader. Don't let the "birther" or war statements sway you - he does this for attention (yet it's what many of us think but are afraid to say) and he'll now focus down on the real problems. But in the final analysis, Trump is a superb manager. His cabinet would be one of the smartest, finest and most motivated ever. Ego is good. We need to represent more American ego to the rest of the world again and provide fair, competent, experienced leadership and direction - and to regain respect. Trump can out-deal the attorneys and bring them ALL to the table. He could break America out of its funk and ensure that we all get our lives back - including those less fortunate. Read his books, but don't judge him as the pundits and politicians have, from a prime time TV show.

  4. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , April 28, 2011 at 10:05 p.m.

    Apparently the PDF layers were artifacts of OCR defaults in the scanning process. That's a relief.

    www.nationalreview.com/corner/265767/pdf-layers-obamas-birth-certificate-nathan-goulding

  5. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing , April 29, 2011 at 8:30 a.m.

    After all of Donalds divorces and how many of his businesses filed for bankruptcy he will never get the nomination. But what irks me is now that he is Glen Beck Part 2 and proven he is just a loser arsehole why is anyone giving him media coverage. It proves why US Media outlets are bleeding money. They stopped competing on REAL NEWS and started competing with the National Enquirer. I have zero pity for newspapers and media outlets going out of business and shedding jobs when all they do is cover crap stories meant for people who shouldn't even be allowed to vote.