Posted by: David Kiley on October 20, 2005
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.