Donald Trump

NBC Created The Modern Myth of Trump

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The tax returns and financial records obtained by the New York Times tell us Trump has paid virtually no income taxes in the last two decades and he owes a massive amount of debt.

The records also show what kind of state Trump was in just before his modern persona was reinvented by hosting The Apprentice on NBC.

According to the Times' latest report, Trump reported massive losses (nearly $90 million) in the year before hosting The Apprentice; a television gig that gave him a financial lifeline and renewed fame as a businessmen who would go on to run for president.

By analyzing the tax records, The New York Times was able to place a value on Mr. Trump’s celebrity. While the returns show that he earned some $197 million directly from “The Apprentice” over 16 years — roughly in line with what he has claimed — they also reveal that an additional $230 million flowed from the fame associated with it. [...

Divorced for the second time, and coming off the failure of his Atlantic City casinos, Mr. Trump faced escalating money problems and the prospect of another trip to bankruptcy court. On his income tax returns, he reported annual net losses throughout the 1990s, some of it carried forward year to year, a tide that would swell to $352.8 million at the end of 2002.

Few people knew this, however, because he kept up the relentless self-promotion that had served him well: a half-serious 2000 presidential campaign that lasted four months but got him on Jay Leno; a TV ad touting McDonald’s new $1 “Big N’ Tasty” burger; another ghostwritten book.

The Times report makes it fairly clear that Trump would have been back in bankruptcy court if not for the show and his empire was literally crumbling in some cases.

Former employees say they even had to rent furniture for The Apprentice because Trump's furniture was falling apart.

“We walked through the offices and saw chipped furniture,” Bill Pruitt, one of the producers, told The New Yorker in 2018. “We saw a crumbling empire at every turn. Our job was to make it seem otherwise."

Mr. Burnett wasted no time spinning the illusion of a successful and high-minded Mr. Trump, telling The Times in October 2003 that the new show was all about “Donald Trump giving back” by educating the public on how his can-do spirit had provided jobs and economic security.

“What makes the world a safe place right now?” Mr. Burnett said. “I think it’s American dollars, which come from taxes, which come because of Donald Trump.”

I don't know if 'staggering' is the right word for it in all its sobering reality, but it's quite something to consider that a lot if not most of everything bad that has happened over the past five years was made possible by a media shitlord from Britain who invented the modern lie of Trumpism and sold it to millions of Americans.

Reading this story, I recalled the accusations from fellow cast members in 2016 who said Apprentice producer Mark Burnett had tapes of Trump using racial and other slurs on video but he refused to release the tapes.

A tape of Trump saying he likes to grab women "by the pussy" was released and that didn't make a difference so it's possible a tape of Trump using racial slurs on the set of The Apprentice wouldn't have either, but Burnett has blood on his hands in any case. And not just American blood.

When The Apprentice dried up, Trump needed another money-making scheme and his presidential campaign began.

  • Aynwrong

    Let’s throw Jeff Zucker under this particular bus along with Mark Burnett. He was the one who green lit the “The Apprentice” and was then (and this should gall any thinking human) made president of CNN. He was running CNN when Trump and Clinton debated at which time he offered to advise Trump on how to win the debates. They fired Donna Brazille over leaking questions to the Clinton (rightfully so) but somehow this isn’t a massive scandal?!

    This is the same clown who has gone on record as saying that he views the news as a soap opera providing drama.

    We are very, very far afield of Edward R Murrow and Walter Kronkite.

  • muselet

    It’s too bad Donald Trump wasn’t left to fend for himself, hawking Mickey D’s and having people write books for him, while dancing as fast as he could to avoid bankruptcy. If his *ahem* empire had collapsed, we’d still be stuck with Trump—people like him never have the decency to go away—but in attenuated form, maybe as a New York City slumlord. He’d be the subject of “Where Are They Now?” features in the tabloids that people could easily ignore.

    Instead, he got bailed out by doing a reality show, and the rest is history.

    Mark Burnett has a lot to answer for.


  • katanahamon

    I started to write a comment earlier about the debate, then didn’t enter it because I thought it was too pessimistic. Then, this..from Vanity Fair, I think..

    “Debate Moderator Chris Wallace Plans to Just Let Trump Lie
    While media outlets roll out new tools to facilitate real-time fact-checking, the Fox News host plans “to be as invisible as possible.””

    Then, it’s not a’s allowing someone to spout bullshit and propaganda. It’s another snowjob perpetrated on the American people. I don’t think Biden should “debate” Rump at all..the press won’t hold Rump accountable but certainly will advertise any Biden’s all so frustrating and depressing..

    • muselet

      I’m not making light of your concerns, but would fact-checking really change anything?

      Donald Trump would spend the entire evening attacking the fact-checkers rather than staying on-topic, and he might even stomp off the stage in a huff (cue deafening cheers from the Red Hats).

      These debates will change no one’s opinion, will affect no one’s vote. They are a stale ritual that should be abandoned in favor of something more informative, like reruns of Gilligan’s Island (yes, that’s a wee attempt at a joke).