Tuesday evening on MSNBC, Brian Williams said Donald Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” which aired on his parent company NBC for 14 seasons, “might have been the pilot for Trump’s presidency. It “deepened Trump’s understanding of the medium” of television and gave him a platform to promote himself, his business, and his family. “The so-called coastal elites, including – let’s be honest – much of the mainstream media, people who are perhaps still coming to grips with Trump’s attraction, might have seen it early if they watched the show,” Williams said solemnly.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC: Last thing before we go tonight, it has been said around here before that the viewers of “The Apprentice” got a preview of the dynamics surrounding what later became the Trump base. “The Apprentice,” hosted by Donald Trump, aired for 14 seasons out of this very building. “The Apprentice” deepened Trump’s understanding of the medium and its power. For starters, it gave Trump a boardroom. He had no board of directors at his family-run company. That’s the SNL studio that served as the backdrop for the ’08 series finale. It’s also where he was able to introduce his children to a national audience. We watched as he pushed the brand, the name trump on everything from buildings to planes to helicopters, even if they were more apt to be leased than owned. His own physical profile became part of the brand, starting with the opening sequence of the show, his body as a logo, and then think of how he used that image when he was introduced at the 2016 Republican convention. The so-called coastal elites, including — let’s be honest — much of the mainstream media, people who are perhaps still coming to grips with Trump’s attraction, might have seen it early if they’d watched the show. Turns out it was also a preview of his presidency. It’s doubtful Rod Blagojevich would be released from prison were he not on “Celebrity Apprentice” back in the day, even if it did end badly for him… And so in that way to use a TV term, it turns out 14 seasons of a television show might have been the pilot for the Trump presidency.