Tubi Makes Trumped-Up Programming Play

In a bid to grab some attention, streaming service Tubi said it acquired exclusive rights to The Apprentice franchise, the series that popularized the notion of Donald Trump as a successful businessman.

Tubi and MGM Television sent an announcement out on Friday night and executives did not return calls and emails over the weekend asking questions such as will Trump, who was a producer as well as the featured player in the series, get paid? Or why would Tubi and MGM want to air a series that burnishes the image of a candidate for national office less than two years before an election.

NBC fired Trump as the boss character in The Apprentice when he made racist remarks about Mexicans as he was gearing up his campaign to become the Republican nominee for President. Trump was replaced by actor turned Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When controversies about sexism or racism arose around Trump, MGM and its president Mark Burnett, who produced The Apprentice and remains a Trump booster, declined to provide outtakes from the show in which Trump reportedly use inappropriate language.

In its press release, Tubi said adding the series was part of a push into reality programming,

“In our quest to democratize content and make more premium content accessible, we are making a big push into the reality television space,” said Farhad Massoudi, CEO, Tubi. “The Apprentice is our second big series announcement this month, and we will have more in the near future.”

According to records available online, it appears Massoudi made a $1,000 contribution to Hillary for America during the last election.

The Apprentice debuted on NBC in 2004 as one of the network’s most-watch series. It spawned The Celebrity Apprentice, which whose guests included Piers Morgan, Bret Michaels, Arsenio Hall, Trace Adkins, Leeza Gibbons, Khloe Kardashian, Cyndi Lauper, Lil Jon, Vivica A. Fox, and Geraldo Rivera.

Another familiar face from The Apprentice is Omarosa Manigault Newman, who appeared on the show, then joined the Trump administration as director of communications for the Office Of Public Liaison. Over the weekend she accused the White House of destroying boxes of files rather than turn them over to Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigators.

In an article in The New Yorker, Jonathan Braun, an editor who worked with Burnett on Survivor and then worked on the first six seasons of The Apprentice, Trump was frequently unprepared for his main role on the show: deciding who hadn’t done a good job and would be fired that week.

Braun said sometimes a candidate did well but got fired by Trump on a whim and editors would have to construct a storyline that made sense from the footage.

“We know each week who has been fired, and, therefore, you’re editing in reverse,” Burnett told the magazine.

Braun noted that President Trump’s Washington staff seems to have been similarly forced to learn the art of retroactive narrative construction, adding, “I find it strangely validating to hear that they’re doing the same thing in the White House.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.