Miss Universe Organizaiton co-owner Donald Trump found familiar territory when he signed on to do The Apprentice.
An ‘Apprentice’ post-season interview
with reality TV’s high-flying star.
PAGEANTRY MAGAZINE: In the last two years, the ratings for the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants have increased tremendously. What factors helped that trend? What do you envision for the future of the pageant industry?
DONALD TRUMP: The fact that NBC and I worked together to make it happen. I also have a very good staff, headed by Paula Shugart. I envision the pageants becoming bigger than ever.
PM: With the exceptional visibility of you and the Trump Organization on NBC’s Miss Universe and The Apprentice telecasts, how much do you feel this has served or will serve as a springboard for additional success in your other business ventures?
DT: Having a prominent brand name that remains prominent can only help, not hinder, all my business ventures.
PM: What did you first think when the producer of Survivor, Mark Burnett, asked you to consider doing The Apprentice?
DT: Mark Burnett’s presentation was so right on that I agreed immediately. First of all, I knew of his success already, and when he approached me, I was a little surprised. But once he explained his concept of the show, I was all for it.
PM: What influence did your involvement in the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, with international exposure for you and that organization, have on your decision to follow up with The Apprentice?
DT: Knowledge of networks gave me a head start. I was on territory I knew about, to a certain extent.
PM: Did it ever run through your mind that The Apprentice could be seen as a business failure if the ratings weren’t there? What gave you confidence that a TV reality series starring Donald Trump would be successful?
DT: It was such a great concept, and Mark Burnett is a genius in his field, that I didn’t entertain the thought of failure.
PM: We’d like to ask you a question that came up a number of times on The Apprentice: Do you consider yourself more of a great salesman, or more of a great manager? Which role do you think better suits your personality and why?
DT: I’m a great manager, and salesmanship follows. Both roles suit me: For example, I’m a builder first and a promoter second. If I wasn’t a builder, I’d have nothing to promote.
PM: What aspects of your own personality and business experience played a part in the way The Apprentice has been developed?
DT: I know how to get the best out of people, I can be tough but fair, and I like to get to the point and fast.
PM: When you were younger, did you ever imagine that you would become a TV star? What kinds of success did you dream about at a young age?
DT: No, I never imagined I’d become a TV star. I was interested in producing movies as a young man, and considered going to USC film school, but my love of building prevailed. It’s in my genes.
PM: Growing up next to your father in the New York real estate business, was that in any way for you a situation like The Apprentice is now for these contestants? What are the similarities or differences?
DT: Not really. The entertainment factor never came into our work together. We were both serious businessmen. The only comparison is that my father was tough but fair, much like I am.
PM: Which has been more satisfying: building a real estate empire that has made you wealthy or being on the No. 1 hit reality show on TV?
DT: Each has been very satisfying, but this is relatively new territory for me. I’ve been in the real estate business my entire life.
PM: You were already a celebrity when you became involved in pageants, and now that The Apprentice is leading in the TV ratings, the media has dubbed you a larger-that-life icon in both the business world and the world of show business. How do you feel about this?
DT: I think it’s terrific. It’s great to be a winner, no matter what industry it might be.
PM: Do you feel that The Apprentice will continue to have legs over the course of the next two seasons, and will you continue to play such a major role in its production?
DT: Yes, and I am partners with Mark Burnett, so I will remain active.
PM: Ever think of quitting or sitting back and enjoying the fruits of your success?
DT: I never think of quitting. I love the challenge, and I always will.