NBC’s The Apprentice made possible Donald Trump’s presumably successful bid to become the GOP’s presidential candidate, NBC Entertainment’s late night and alternative programming president Paul Telegdy said today.
“You know the answer – Of course not,” Telegdy shot back when asked during a HRTS lunch panel if Trump could have succeeded so completely in primaries, minus his 14 seasons as the face of NBC’s The Apprentice/Celebrity Apprentice franchise.
“It’s your country,” Telegdy, a Brit, joked to lunch attendees, of the competition series’ unintended consequences, politically. “I’ve got somewhere else I can go!”
Candidate Trump’s persona has been “in lockstep with his persona on the show,” Telegdy observed.
“I’m not sure, but I think Paul’s trying to avoid this question,” Warner Bros.’ unscripted/alternative TV president Mike Darnell jumped in, mischievously, as the Trump motif continued, and Telegdy took questions as to the network’s role in turning the reality star into the presumptive GOP nominee for the White House.
“What’s going on demonstrates, if nothing else, the enormous amount of responsibility that goes with the job of putting out the version of someone that we do in a TV show,” Telegdy acknowledged. The Apprentice franchise, he insisted, was created by a “master” of television production, and editors, who “created a phenomenon television personality.”
Asked what cabinet position he hopes to land after the election, Telegdy joked right back, “Ambassador to the Court of St. James” which is the formal name of the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Which, these days, does not sound strange at all.
“We’re so wrapped up in what’s been going on in the last few months,” Telegdy acknowledged, of his department and the people who worked on the series during Trump’s reign.
“It’s all very peculiar, but it seems to be the system,” Telegdy marveled of the U.S. election cycle and the runaway candidacy of NBC’s former TV star. “You can’t argue the guy’s walking around getting a lot of votes.”
“I don’t think where Donald is now in the campaign is any surprise to anyone that worked closely with him” on the show, the NBC exec said, adding he was certain “everyone wonders if we’ve got a crew following his campaign.”
“Do you?” moderator Michael Schneider shot back.
“We don’t,” Telegdy responded stoutly.
“Why not?” Schneider persisted.
“A reality star as president just makes me smile,” Darnell grinned.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.