Interview: Donald Trump & Mark Burnett: The Apprentice Season 10

This week I had the opportunity speak to two very interesting people. Business magnate, socialite and the host of The Apprentice, Mr Donald Trump and one of reality televisions most renowned producers, Mr Mark Burnett.  On the 16th of September, the tenth season of The Apprentice begins and promises to deliver relevance to the current economic climate.

“If you remember when we started The Apprentice it was this big hit but it was also in a different world” says Trump. “It was, you know, times were booming and now times are just the opposite of booming.”

Responding to the call for the show to be more reflective of the current times, this season’s contestants have been selected from the many who have lost their jobs and livelihood due to the economic downturn. 

“We have people that went to the best schools and they don’t have a job” Trump told us. “People that had really good jobs before and they have five kids in one case and doesn’t have a job, has zero income coming in.”

Mark Burnett added “We’ve got someone who got their Masters in Engineering, worked as a mechanical engineer, got downsized in the economy and now has now taken a job as a tow truck driver. Another woman who went to Stanford for cancer research had a job as a cancer researcher. The funding fell through because of the economy and now they’re taking care of their grandmother and living back in their parent’s house.”

Being a man with an eye for the ladies, Trump tells of another. “A beautiful young woman who went to Stanford Law, did a great job, great student, had a great job at a major law firm and now she’s selling cupcakes.”

So the contestants in this season aren’t just fresh out of school contenders for the $250,000 job with Trump, they’re actually talented professionals who have found themselves on the hard side of reality and out of work.  

When casting for this season, they weren’t looking for people who were feeling sorry for themselves.  In fact, the common theme was finding people who were fighting back.  And fighting your way back is certainly something that Donald Trump has done himself so these contestants have certainly earned his respect in that regard.

“The energy and the almost, the survival of some of these people is unbelievable. Unbelievable, where they have families where the families are just devastated by the fact that they have no money, they have nothing. But they have great educations and they had a great past. So it’s inspirational, but at the same time it’s very sad.”

And while it’s just a TV show, many of the contestants gave feedback throughout filming that it felt great to be back at work.  Coming from high flying jobs to doing nothing would be hard.  One can only imagine the near euphoric state of being back in your business element.

If you’re familiar with the show then you’ll know that the winners of each task are rewarded.  Often with lavish gifts or experiences.  This time round though, it’s a little different.  

“The winning project manager’s reward every week is to meet with a major industry titan in various industries” says Burnett. “It’s like a motivational speech from winners to give these people a chance and it’s amazing how they come out of these rewards energized.”

While it’s common to hear people talking about upcoming seasons as being the best ever, Trump emphasizes why he thinks it’s true in these case.

“It’s a better plot in terms of bad times versus good times. When you’re in good times it’s less urgent, it’s less important. And in a certain way maybe even less exciting. But I think the concept is almost better because of the times that we’re living in”

With a new plot in hand, the casting process sounded pretty horrific though.

“Donald sat there with myself and the NBC executives and we honestly were listening to story after story of unbelievably educated people.” Burnett said.  “I mean people, top universities, top law firms who are just on their ass, and I’ve got to tell you one minute we looked at each other, Donald and I and the NBC executives and said boy, it sure is great to have a job.”

Sad story after sad story after sad story from thousands of people from 11 different cities makes for compelling viewing.  So much so that as Trump says, “when NBC saw what was happening with the shooting, it was so good they couldn’t believe it and they actually bumped the show in order to put it on early.”  

With so many people affected by the economic turmoil, this season of The Apprentice could very well be one of the best rating as people seek solace and inspiration for their own circumstances.

The Apprentice begins at 9:00pm on Thursday the 16th of September on Global.

Back row: Gene Folkes, Wade Hanson, Kelly Smith Beaty, Steuart Martens, Clint Robertson, Tyana Alvarado, Nicole Chiu, Alex Delgado
Front row: Stephanie Castagnier, James Weir, David Johnson, Poppy Carlig, Liza Mucheru-Wisner, Brandy Kuentzel, Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy

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