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Donald Trump Knew All Along Martha's Show Would Fail. Makes You Wonder Why He Put His Name On It.

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October 20, 2005

Donald Trump Knew All Along Martha's Show Would Fail. Makes You Wonder Why He Put His Name On It.

David Kiley

In Donald Trump's storied career, one thing is for sure. He doesn't put his name on something he doesn't believe in or that he thinks is bad from the get-go. He apparently abandoned that philosophy when he put his name on the Martha Stewart version of The Apprentice.

This morning on Don Imus's syndicated radio show, which is simulcast on MSNBC, The Donald said, "I was never in favor of it," at least four times that I heard. "I never thought it was a good idea," was also uttered. And my favorite: "NBC Entertainment and production chief] Jeff Zucker never liked what he saw." Donald Trump's name appears on Martha's Apprentice as "Executive Producer." Is Trump that casual with how his valuable name is used, or did the Donald simply let the other executive producer, Mark Burnett, bully him. That doesn't sound like the Trump we know.

Listening to Trump's "I told them so....If only they would have listened to me" rant, I half expected Imus's next segment to be with Dick Cheney telling the world that he told the President over and over again that going all the way to Baghdad was a bad idea.

I have said before that I have a peculiar taste in that I actually prefer Martha's Apprentice to Trump's. But there is a reason why I am not head of programming at NBC. I've also said that it was a bad idea for Martha, an original celebrity brand if there ever was one, to have a knockoff show. Martha is the brand that others knock off. She shouldn't be knocking off Trump.

It's been pretty clear that Martha does not look all that comfortable in the show. That comes across, and is probably why ratings have been disappointing. It didn't help that Martha was up against the hit TV show "Lost." Not only has Martha garnered less than 7 million viewers a night, with each episode losing more traction, but the ratings among the 18-49 crowd, the one advertisiers still care most about, have been about equal to an Andy Rooney-Mike Wallace televised chess match.

The bad strategy, allowed to proceed by the braintrust of Donald Trump, Jeff Zucker, Mark Burnett and Martha herself has helped shares of Martha Stewart Omnimedia plummet 39 percent since Sept. 12.

Mark Burnett has an interesting track record. His Survivor series (which he produced but did not conceive)saved CBS. And Trump's Apprentice has done very well for NBC. And for those two reasons, he can get a meeting with anyone in Hollywood or New York. But he is also leaving an impressive legacy of utter duds behind him. Besides Martha Stewart's Apprentice, there have been The Contender, Rock Star, The Restaurant, Casino. And let's not forget the 2004 Democratic Convention. They couldn't even get the balloons to drop right. Burnett also conceived Martha's day-time TV show, which is disappoint in the ratings department. This week's guests, according to the MSO site: George Foreman, Al Roker, Christina Applegate and Heather Mills McCartney. That's a lineup that looks like an off day at The Today Show.

After The Restaurant tanked, the career of celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito began its fall into oblivion. Maybe Martha should have gone to school on that episode of Burnett's career.

08:58 AM

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Posted by: Tim O'Brien at October 20, 2005 10:26 AM

The Donald's comments seem to be a case of glass houses and throwing stones. If I recall correctly, his life/career was on a bit of the skids before the Apprentice came along. What can you expect from the third iteration of a reality show? I don't think i even want to see another Trump version. Given Alderson, I'm sure Martha had to take the risk. And while her Apprentice is a disappointment, I actually like her daytime show. I hope it's the one that survives.

Posted by: Michelle J. at October 20, 2005 01:19 PM

I am shocked to hear Donald Trump say those things. I idolize the man for what he has accomplished & even have his 10 commandments to business on my wall next to me. I think he is making a mistake saying he did not support it. HE allowed his name to be put on it, so shame on him this time. I have TIVO'd Martha's version but have yet to find time to watch it.

Lori Wekerle

Posted by: Lori Wekerle at October 24, 2005 01:37 AM

For established persons such as major business figures or celebrities, infamy oftentimes leads to greater resources and opportunities to achieve even more prominence and financial success.

Of course individuals who are allowed this are preselected. In my opinion Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, was given this opportunity - an opportunity to star in her own show.

As far as Donald Trump involvement, loaning his name as executive producer to Martha Stewart's version of his widely-popular program "The Apprentice" was just being innovative. He's treating his name and celebrity status as a brand.

This would keep his name (aka "brand") in the spotlight and in conversations of regular people and movers and shakers in the business.

His claim "I was never in favor of it" on Don Imus' hugely sucessful, syndicated radio show just added spice (controversy) to the mix - and as the cliched saying goes "controversary sells." That the perception is that "The Donald" was somehow forced or grudgingly accepted to endorse Martha Stewart's new show by the program's head executive producer, Mark Burnett, stokes the flames a little more.

All of this simply seemed like smart marketing.

"Donald Trump" as a brand name seems to be influx. He recently spoke against a write-up in the "Daily Post" because it suggested he's not as financially-made as he would have perception of himself suggest. Associating his "brand" with Martha Stewart was a move, I'm almost certain, he knew would at best have a 50/50 chance for optimal success.

That Martha's show seems to be failing (or should that be "failed," as I never watched the program) doesn't really come as a surprise in this time and age. I wonder if ethical issues played some small role in the outcome of all of this. After all, Martha wouldn't had even been paid a percentage if the program went into syndication (my understanding from what I've read). $500,000 in cash for each episode plus her other fees would have to suffice.

Could it be that old business strategies and models are becoming faded dinosaurs in the new world - even for some of the most powerful and influential?

Posted by: Donny Harry at October 25, 2005 02:51 PM

I think Donald is just bitter because Martha's version IS better. Her version debuted weak, but since the time change it has steadily picked up momentum every week. It has averaged a million viewer increase every week.

Posted by: karen c. at October 26, 2005 01:49 PM

I think Martha should throw one of her souffles at Trump's face but she probably has both hands full trying to pull the knife out of her back.

Posted by: Grace T at October 28, 2005 07:50 AM

I happen to like Martha's version of the Apprentice. I think people expected to see a hardcore, butt-whipping Martha, and that's just not the side she is showing these days. Let's face it: Martha bounces back better than a rubber ball. If the stock plummeted it is because those are not true fans; they are investors looking to make a quick buck. Her true fans will stick with her through thick and thin and she will be back on top. Her daytime show is a big hit. It's a lot livelier than the old one. And, you know what esle? I think she's really having fun.

Posted by: EB at October 28, 2005 09:46 AM

watched martha stewart tonight, nov 2, and the first thing i noticed was that martha stewart, when in the car , didn't have her seatbeat on.

Posted by: Carrie at November 2, 2005 09:12 PM

I have watched the original Apprentice since the beginning...used to love it's getting stale. I much prefer Martha's and so do the people I talk with about it...and we're all in our 20-30's.

Posted by: Keisha at November 17, 2005 02:45 PM

I actually like the Martha Apprentice better than the Donald version, but I do think reality TV is on its way out, at least these types of shows. I now I am getting tired of watching the everyday coniving and back stabbing amoung people on TV reality shows.

Just shows what people will do to someone else no matter what the cost. If your going to be on Tv show some class and humility at least

Posted by: Linda at November 21, 2005 07:20 PM

As for Martha's apprentice, I like the tasks better. I think that two hours a week of apprentice-tv is too much for me... I'll be glad when the show is down to once-a-week, but I will miss the 'crafty' tasks and martha's oddball comments. Very un-trump-like and that's ok too. Maybe martha can create (and/or judge) a task or two during the next run of trump's apprentice.

Posted by: melanie at November 26, 2005 05:16 PM

I wouldn't say I idolize Donald Trump. I admire his business savvy but never thought the man was a saint. I also liked Martha's version of the Apprentice better. I taped it and am now re-watching the episodes. I liked that she had a low-key style. I love her daytime show and am taping it at this moment. I like her classy response to Donald's sour comments. Martha, you're hired. Donald, you're fired! Judy W.

Posted by: Judy Williams at February 22, 2006 06:34 PM

I agree that Martha's Apprentice show is actually better than Donald's. He appears haughty and pretentious and she seems cheerful, dedicated and not a bully. Of course, this is TV but isn't that what we are judging? Who in the TV audience knows either well enough to judge them personally. These days most folks don't even know their neighbors that well.

Posted by: Erma at February 25, 2006 07:28 PM

Martha's apprentice was not only a terrible show but a disgrace for Burnett Productions, NBC and the "Trump" brand. Although, I am sure The Donald was never in favor of producing another version of the Apprentice, he agreed on producing a second Apprentice so that Martha Stewart could use the show as a self-promoting vehicle to restore her image in the eyes of the american public while the trump brand reached a more diverse audience. I believe that Martha should apologyze to Donald but she won't do it because her little dwarfs (followers) would be dissapointed in her. Martha Stewart is just another little company to entertain you with little tips and tricks, but Trump is an empire and the real deal. Let me lay the a towel from Martha Stewart or another product from her line and compare it to Trump's cologne, line of clothing or even his buildings. Trump speaks for itself. After all, writing a weepy letter instead of the classic "YOU ARE FIRED" is just as bad as it can get and Martha was the one who came up with the brilliant idea. Donald Trump tried to help her and told her that he did not like it and it might not work. There you go, it failed. Donald Trump put his own name under The Apprentice Martha Stewart risking his own brand and helping his friend Martha Stewart regain popularity. How does Martha repays him by considering to fire him in the show? She lacks work ethic and her businesses run because she is skilled and a hardworker. Martha tried hard in her Apprentice but trying is not good enough.

Martha you lost. Trump is better than you. Get over it. Take Trump's advice and go to Tahiti or somewhere and relax. You tried to mess with the Trump and you got trumped. Trump is the way to go.

Posted by: Carlos at February 28, 2006 04:27 PM

I watched Imus in the Morning on msnbc each morning during the time just before Martha's Apprentice started and all the time it was on. The things Donald Trump has said since are opposite what he was saying then. I agree that his show was better and I thought hers was a mistake right from the start even though I did like to watch it. She made comments. He got insulted. He made more comments and she got insulted and it's blown up into a war between the two of them. They used to be friends according to him. Remember that on last season apprentice he fired two women at the same time because of the way they turned on each other like snakes when it was between the two of them after they had been really close friends throughout the course of the show. Martha shouldn't have blamed him for her shows failure. He had nothing but good things to say about her on Imus show each week including that she was a wonderful person. He was rooting for her the whole time!

Posted by: Laura Nason at January 8, 2007 04:57 PM

I dont like Don trump show and remove it off from air. and remove his stocks . or go sour sides. It is bad advice to people to watch the show. OUT THE SHOW !

it is sick show

Posted by: david at March 18, 2007 11:01 PM

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