Master Showman Trump Shows How It's Done

Trump's brilliance in staying executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice.

The media has found yet another reason to reach for the smelling salts and fainting couch, which surely must be just about worn out by now: As President, Donald Trump intends to remain executive producer of his long-running TV show Celebrity Apprentice!  Oh, the horror! 

Donald Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” which is returning Jan. 2 after a two-year hiatus with new host Arnold Schwarzenegger.

MGM confirmed to Variety that Trump has retained his EP credit on the series.

Variety is a media-world news outlet of such long-running renown as to be lampooned in cartoons, so it would be rational to accept this as not being fake news, but you never know with The Donald.  He sort-of denied this report via tweet, saying he would not be working "even part time" but then the tweet was deleted and replaced on grounds of a type.

Presumably he has bigger fish to fry than meddling with a trite TV program, and so should the media.  On the other hand...

With Hollywood, It's Phony All The Way Down

Mr. Trump, as a celebrity of long standing, knows perfectly well that there is nothing whatsoever genuine in Hollywood except the size of your bank account, and even that can often be faked for years on end.  One day, you can be sufficiently close friends with someone as to engage in the coarsest of locker-room talk; the next, said talk is a weapon against you; and the day after that, you're back on top and your ex-friend and betrayer is unemployed.

Do you suppose Billy Bush, betrayer of The Donald, would at this point reject an appearance on "Celebrity Apprentice" if it were offered him?  Of course not, but considering the Bush family's disrespect of Mr. Trump during the campaign, that's not terribly likely.  Mr. Bush might seek another job elsewhere in the media, but since the only thing he's known for now is condoning "misogynist" talk and the media climbed too far out on that limb to back down, he's stuck and out of luck.

This benefits Mr. Trump, because Billy Bush stands as an example to the entire media complex of what happens when you betray The Donald and don't have something pretty good to offer him by way of making up to him.

Why does this matter?  In other news:

Donald Trump’s inaugural committee is scrambling to lock in A-list Hollywood performers for the parties celebrating him — and having a rough time booking big names, two insiders tell TheWrap.

Both said that Trump inaugural committee members have contacted them in recent days offering cash or even a government appointment if they could deliver marquee names.

“They are willing to pay anything,” one of the insiders told TheWrap. “They told me, ‘We’ll pay their fees.’ Most of these artists’ fees are in the six to seven figures.” The insider said the Trump negotiator also offered to pay him for delivering top talent, saying, “Name your price.”

“I couldn’t do it,” the insider said. “Not even for a billion dollars.”

To us, this smells like fake news.  For one thing, offering a government appointment in exchange for a valuable live performance is illegal and would be idiotic with our entire media slavering to pin crimes real or imagined on anyone associated with The Donald.  It's no surprise that the Trump team flatly denied this report and we're inclined to believe them.

Still, it's hardly news that the vast majority of celebrities are far, far lefties who want nothing to do with supporting a Republican, even to their own detriment.  A growing list of fashion designers is refusing to provide clothes for First-Lady-elect Melania Trump, even though Mrs. Trump is perfectly capable of designing her own clothes, her stepdaughter runs her own fashion line, and in our humble opinion, the most recent "haute couture" provided to the Obamas leaves somewhat to be desired in the style department, specifically, actual style.

Turning down an opportunity to design for the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Mrs. Trump would be just as stupid as rejecting Jackie Kennedy - not that anyone would have ever dreamt of doing that.  Quite a few up-and-coming fashion designers have found dressing a First Lady to be a helpful boost to their careers.  It won't matter much to designers who are already celebrities, like Michelle Obama's dressmaker Sophie Theallet, but there is no shortage of other people wishing to make a name for themselves.  In this case, they'd not only get name recognition, they might even pick up a useful pointer or two from Mrs. Trump or her stepdaughter.

One Hand Washes The Other

Which is why this deftly-engineered flap about Mr. Trump's executive-producership is so staggeringly brilliant.

If there was anyone in celebrity-land who didn't know that Mr. Trump was retaining EP credit on his erstwhile show, they certainly know it now.

As everyone in the news media ought to know, and all Hollywood types do as a matter of course, in Hollywood-speak the term "executive producer" means "somebody with a large financial interest in the show who does none of the actual work."  On these grounds it makes perfect sense for Donald Trump to keep this credit - he does indeed own a large chunk of the rights to the show, but as he pointed out, as President, he will have "zero time!" to dedicate to it.

Do you think all those C-list celebrities will truly believe this, though?  If Donald Trump can find the time to tweet about some of the trivial stuff that crosses his mind, surely, surely he might retain just the teeniest bit of personal interest in the show that made him a household name?  Maybe not, but people whose lives are tied up in show business will be unable to comprehend that someone could actually walk away from that world entirely.

As executive producer, President Trump holds no real responsibilities for "Celebrity Apprentice" - it's not as if everyone else involved don't know plenty of people who can do all the nuts-and-bolts of making a TV show.

Mr. Trump does, however, have a great deal of influence whether he exercises it or not.  Do you really suppose that new host and fellow-Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to refuse to take a phone call or suggestion from the man who is not only his executive producer but also The President of the United States?  Hardly.

By masterfully manipulating the psychotic and self-defeating mainstream media, Donald Trump has given himself something no previous President of the United States has ever had: a truly effective weapon against all but the biggest celebrities, a weapon offering immense rewards for good behavior and which is all the more effective for its very invisibility.

He has ensured that all Hollywood believes that he and he alone controls who will be on "Celebrity Apprentice," a show which has proved valuable time after time in recharging flagging careers.  Tom Cruise doesn't need "Celebrity Apprentice" nor does Angelina Jolie, but everyone underneath them does, or may in the future.  Whether Mr. Trump actually decides who appears or not, whether he bothers to or not, is entirely immaterial, since everyone who isn't anyone quite yet believes he does.

We're going to love watching this realization sink in through the thick skulls and empty heads of the glitterati and wannabes.  The superstars who are confident that their careers will never need a helpful boost of any kind will no doubt continue to froth against President Trump, but don't be surprised if the rest of the show business world goes strangely silent or starts cooperating with him.

And that, after all, is what he really wants from them - and about all they're good for.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

On the Obama style, or lack thereof:

Fashion is an industry, a significant generator of wealth, jobs, and part of our cultural *fabric*.
It deserves the nation's leaders to at least be aware that they a example, and how good an example they set, and the quality of their taste, will have, at the very least, economic impact.
Someone in the vacinity of that photo shoot should have pointed out that THREE patterned dresses is THREE TOO many for a formal portrait. Never mind the fact that they don't complement one another. Careless, really.

December 16, 2016 4:51 PM
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