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New ‘Apprentice’ Book Paints Trump as Wounded, Forgetful and Hung Up on Hollywood

New ‘Apprentice’ Book Paints Trump as Wounded, Forgetful and Hung Up on Hollywood


It was May 2021, and Donald J. Trump was wounded. Four months earlier, his supporters had ransacked the Capitol. He had departed Washington, disgraced, defeated and twice impeached. His party had deserted him, nonetheless quickly, and he’d been kicked off his social media accounts. He holed up inside Trump Tower and stewed.

An leisure journalist named Ramin Setoodeh got here knocking. He instructed Mr. Trump he wished to put in writing a e book, not in regards to the unpleasantness of the earlier 4 years, however about that prelapsarian interval earlier than Mr. Trump entered politics. Then, he was merely the star of “The Apprentice,” the fact TV present that aired on NBC starting in 2004 and “modified tv,” as Mr. Setoodeh put it to the previous president.

Mr. Trump was bought. He granted the reporter a number of lengthy, recorded interviews. “He was at his lowest then,” Mr. Setoodeh, 42, mentioned over lunch in Manhattan’s West Village on Friday. “I believe speaking about ‘The Apprentice’ allowed him to really feel consolation.”

Mr. Trump grew to become so excited in regards to the e book that he provided to advertise at his rallies, saying that the retailers who comply with his touring roadshow would assist peddle it. “You’ll promote 10,000 books at one rally,” he instructed Mr. Setoodeh. “Let’s see how this works out.”

Not effectively, because it seems — a minimum of for Mr. Trump. “Apprentice in Wonderland,” revealed Tuesday, depicts its topic as a lonely and generally dotty man, eager for the times when he was nonetheless accepted by his fellow celebrities, whilst he appears to crave political energy.

One minute he’s bragging that Joan Rivers voted for him in 2016 (she died in 2014); the subsequent he’s excusing himself to go cope with “the entire thing with the Afghanistan,” as he instructed Mr. Setoodeh, who occurred to be interviewing him the week President Biden was pulling U.S. troops overseas. It was unclear what Mr. Trump meant.

Mr. Setoodeh spent three afternoons at Trump Tower and one at Mar-a-Lago, and interviewed Mr. Trump twice on the cellphone. His last go to was in November of final yr. He got here away believing Mr. Trump, now 78, was declining, he mentioned.

“Trump was definitely a lot sharper when he was in his 60s internet hosting ‘The Apprentice,’ and he did battle with short-term reminiscence,” Mr. Setoodeh mentioned. When the writer confirmed up for his second interview, the previous president didn’t seem to recollect giving a primary, Mr. Setoodeh mentioned, though just below three months had handed.

Ramin Setoodeh in October. His new e book is “Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass.”Credit…Noam Galai/Getty Images

“President Trump was conscious of who this particular person was all through the interview course of, however this ‘author’ is a no one and insignificant, so in fact he by no means made an impression,” mentioned Mr. Trump’s spokesperson Steven Cheung, including that Mr. Setoodeh “has now chosen to permit Trump Derangement Syndrome to rot his mind like so many different losers whose total existence revolves round President Trump.”

On social media, the marketing campaign has gone on the assault, threatening to launch audio clips of Mr. Setoodeh’s interviews with Mr. Trump through which the journalist talked favorably about his legacy as an entertainer.

Mr. Setoodeh mentioned Mr. Trump was a lot happier discussing “The Apprentice” than something having to do together with his presidency. “He compares himself to Clint Eastwood and Marlon Brando, and sees himself in numerous methods as an actor and a well-known particular person,” mentioned Mr. Setoodeh. The forty fifth president gossiped about Khloe Kardashian (“I by no means acquired alongside nice with Khloe. Khloe was arrested for drunk driving, do you know that?”); the disgraced former head of CBS, Leslie Moonves (“Now he sits on the Bel-Air membership and no one cares”); Bette Midler (“I had her in my residence and now she says the nastiest issues”); Dennis Rodman (“A reasonably cool cat in some ways … Kim Jong-un actually favored him, legit”); and Taylor Swift (“I discover her very stunning. I believe she’s liberal. Probably doesn’t like Trump”).

“I used to be actually stunned by how a lot he was nonetheless fixated on superstar tradition and the way a lot superstar nonetheless means to him,” Mr. Setoodeh mentioned. He famous that Mr. Trump grew to become “most excited” speaking about his idea that well-known folks residing in Beverly Hills vote for him however gained’t admit it.

“What is the benefit of getting secret voters in Beverly Hills?” Mr. Setoodeh puzzled. “Wouldn’t you need secret voters in Ohio or Pennsylvania? But he needs secret voters in Beverly Hills as a result of he associates that with present enterprise, and that’s an important factor for him.”

One particular person Mr. Trump refused to gossip about was Mark Burnett, the producer of “The Apprentice,” though Mr. Burnett condemned Mr. Trump’s candidacy for sowing “hatred, division and misogyny” in 2016.

“It’s attention-grabbing,” Mr. Setoodeh mentioned, “as a result of Trump, if somebody says one thing publicly about him that opposes him, he holds grudges endlessly, and Mark did disavow Trump after the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. But Trump credit Mark with ‘The Apprentice,’ and he loves ‘The Apprentice,’ and so he by no means mentioned something about Mark Burnett that was even vaguely damaging.” (Mr. Burnett didn’t grant an interview for the e book.)

Mr. Setoodeh’s interview with Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago final yr occurred to fall on the day that Mr. Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, died. Mr. Setoodeh anticipated the interview to be canceled; as an alternative, it was pushed again an hour. Mr. Trump reminisced that day about how even his sister, who had been a tough-minded federal judge, liked “The Apprentice.”

In Trump Tower, Mr. Setoodeh performed for Mr. Trump a montage of scenes from the present, together with the 3 times through the years that Mr. Trump “fired” Omarosa Manigault Newman, the present’s recurring villain. He would go on to rent her to work within the White House, however she made secret tapes and afterward publicly disavowed him as a racist, publishing a e book about her time in his administration titled “Unhinged.”

About all of that, Mr. Trump sounded nearly amused, telling Mr. Setoodeh: “I instructed folks once we employed her, I mentioned, ‘When we fireplace her, we’ll don’t have anything however hassle.’ But that’s OK. That’s the best way life goes.”

Melania Trump makes an look within the e book when Mr. Trump reminisces about firing Mr. Rodman as a result of he misspelled her title as “Milania” on a poster for her new skincare line throughout one of many present’s challenges. Mrs. Trump had spoken up in that episode to complain: “They spelled my title fallacious, it’s far and wide, and no one even observed.”

Mr. Setoodeh mentioned Mr. Trump was gleeful reliving the alternate, saying: “I imply, how good is that tv? I can’t consider it.”

Talking about these less complicated instances, Mr. Trump slipped into just a few moments of one thing approaching introspection, as when he by accident admitted he “misplaced the election” (although he shortly reversed himself to say “after they mentioned we misplaced”). At one level, he requested Mr. Setoodeh: “So do you assume I’d have been president with out ‘The Apprentice’? I say sure. But some folks say no. Many sensible folks say no.”

Mr. Trump mentioned that in the end what he realized about present enterprise from his years on the present was this: “It’s all about one factor: rankings. If you could have rankings, you might be the meanest, most horrible human being on this planet.”

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