How Donald Trump Made The Apprentice Editors' Jobs More Difficult

donald trump the apprentice

Unlike former Presidents of the United States, Donald Trump can boast a past that includes hosting a reality TV show for 14 seasons. As the head presenter on NBC's The Apprentice, Trump reasserted his finance-tethered celebrity to such a degree that the fame arguably carried him all the way to the White House. A new report reveals the mogul made life quite hectic for The Apprentice's editors, however, as his allegedly impulsive and ill-informed firings meant the crew had to frequently reverse-engineer episodes to justify those decisions.

Each week on The Apprentice, contestants would go through business challenges meant to show off their prowess (or lack thereof). The challenges were meant to be viewed by Donald Trump so that he could assess everyone's positives and negatives, allowing for a balanced assessment going into the "Ya fired" segment at each episode's closing. However, according to Apprentice editor Jonathon Braun, Trump didn't always prepare in such a manner, and didn't always know who did well and who didn't.

In fact, Jonathon Braun claimed that there were times when a contestant would do perfectly fine in the challenges, only to later get fired without valid explanation. In those cases, Braun told The New Yorker that the editors had to go back and pore through the hundreds of hours of footage in order to pull out each and every moment when the fired contestant did anything that could be construed as a faux pas. In that way, they could then attempt to justify the ousting to the audiences at home.

Here's how Jonathon Braun put it, comparing Donald Trump's Apprentice decisions to those he's made about certain staffers within his administration.

We know each week who has been fired, and, therefore, you're editing in reverse. I find it strangely validating to hear that they're doing the same thing in the White House.

The report in question aimed to pinpoint mega-producer Mark Burnett and The Apprentice as the springboards for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, noting that period as one when the billionaire found himself with a large and positive fanbase for possibly the first time. That and other motivating factors, such as the reality series' giant ratings on NBC, purportedly got him more interested in achieving the most public role in the country.

Political leanings aside, it's interesting to ponder Jonathon Braun's words within this overall context, considering how many people Donald Trump has indeed fired since getting elected. Had he gotten TV-famous on another reality show that wasn't hindered on job terminations, would that have changed anything? What if he'd have joined American Idol, America's Next Top Model or Hell's Kitchen?

Donald Trump obviously wasn't the only reason why The Apprentice's editing team had to fudge footage, and the success of reality TV has long been attributed (by those in the know) to the editors who craft narratives where none may have existed otherwise. For instance, Jonathon Braun claims that each hour-long Apprentice episode gets as many as 300 hours of taped footage.

Braun also confirmed a big assumption that many people have about reality TV shows. Whenever audiences are shown someone's noteworthy reaction shot during a conversation, that shot is often taken from another moment in the dialogue. So when we see contestants roll their eyes or drop their jaws over something being said, they're likely reacting to a completely different comment from what viewers just heard.

Donald Trump likely won't ever go back to being a reality TV presenter or SNL host, and we probably won't ever get another season of The Apprentice on NBC. But you can find him in Washington D.C., and you can find tons of great TV shows hitting primetime soon in our midseason premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.