Donald Trump explains decision to attack Martha in 'Apprentice' letter
By Reality TV World staff, 02/22/2006
The blows (and hubris) just keep coming in Donald Trump's bluster-filled attack on former The Apprentice spinoff star Martha Stewart. with the real estate mogul -- offended by what he considers to be Stewart's attempts to blame him for the ratings failure of her Apprentice show -- taking to CNBC's airwaves in an attempt to explain his decision to eviscerate Stewart in what he freely admits was a "mean spirited" open letter to the domestic diva.
"Well, because I read a certain article over the weekend where Martha is blaming me for the failure of her show. And I'm saying, 'Give me a break,'" Trump told The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch host Donny Deutsch in response to Deutsch's question about what had made him so upset as to release his open letter to Stewart.
"I was the only one that really touted her. Myself and [The Apprentice executive producer] Mark Burnett, we touted Martha. And that's what we got," Trump told Deutsch during the live Tuesday night telephone interview with the CNBC talk show host. "So I can sit back like most people and say, you know, 'Let it roll. Nobody is going to notice it.' Or I can attack. I just happen to be a warrior. I just happen to be somebody that believes in attacking."
And attack -- or more accurately, continue his attack -- the self-styled "warrior" did.
"I went on television touting Martha, really I was her number one advocate," the real estate mogul vented to Deutsch, an advertising executive turned talk show host and Trump friend who has previously appeared on several episodes of The Apprentice.
"Nobody did it better or more effectively than me. And I did it at length, not that I wanted to, but I did it at length. I did it on your show. I did it on Today. I did it on every show about Martha, wonderful, wonderful. And what does she do? She said her show failed because of me. I mean, she actually blames me for her show's failure."
"It wasn't me. And it wasn't Mark Burnett, who is the greatest, that he's taken hits with this Martha show. He's taken tremendous hits. And it wasn't his fault. It was Martha's fault. It wasn't my fault, and it wasn't Mark Burnett's fault. It was Martha's fault. She was terrible in the show."
As he first mentioned in October after Stewart's show had premiered to disappointing ratings, Trump reiterated his claims that despite his willingness to shill and gush about Stewart's Apprentice spinoff before it premiered, he was never a fan of the idea of giving her an Apprentice show.
"I wasn't a big fan of her doing the show, to be honest with you, but the wise minds at NBC wanted to do a Martha show, and I was OK with it, not exactly enthusiastic," said Trump. "But, you know, I went around. I promoted the show. I helped her. After I saw the show, I realized it was going to be a total disaster. I mean, she didn't have what it takes for that particular show, unfortunately. And I could see immediately it was going to be a disaster, and that's unfortunate."
According to Trump, there's a simple reason why it took him so long to realize The Apprentice: Martha Stewart was going to be a "total disaster" -- because despite co-owning The Apprentice franchise with Burnett and having an executive producer credit on Stewart's show, he hadn't actually seen the end result until it debuted on NBC in September.
"I never saw the show until it premiered," Trump told Deutsch. "I am building buildings all over the place, Don. I don't have time to sit around watching her show, fortunately. The fact is, the first time I saw it was the night it premiered."
Trump also claimed ignorance about any of the show's creative decisions. "I didn't hear anything about this crazy letter writing, which was her idea... not Mark's," Trump stated about Stewart's decision to close each episode of her The Apprentice show with a handwritten thank you note to the contestant she had just eliminated from the reality competition. "And, you know, I just -- I looked at it. I said, `This is a disaster.'"
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"It didn't have the mood. It didn't have the temperament. It didn't have whatever it is that it has to have. It didn't have, frankly, what my show has... and that's why my show is such a hit."
But despite his own feelings about the show, Trump admits even he wasn't expecting The Apprentice: Martha Stewart to be such a big ratings flop. "Nobody had any idea how badly that show was going to tank," Trump told Deutsch. "I guess the concept, even though I didn't like it because I thought it would cause confusion -- but I guess the concept wasn't so bad. It turned out to be a disaster."
According to Trump, equally upsetting to him was what he perceived as the domestic diva's lack of appreciation for his efforts. "What I didn't like is that I defended Martha many, many times and I never got a note," a frustrated Trump explained. "I never got a phone call saying, 'Donald, thank you very much for defending me.' See, you get a little bit tired of it. Then when her show fails, she blames me on top of everything else."
Trump also rejected Stewart's statements that her show was originally set to open with a boardroom scene in which she'd "fire" Trump. "It doesn't make sense," said Trump. "And I certainly never heard about it." "Lots of ideas are bounced around, and Martha had lots of ideas," Burnett later added during a separate appearance on the CNBC talk show. "My job is to sit and listen to them, but, really, why would NBC ever do that?"
The Apprentice star also talked about Stewart's daughter Alexis, who he also criticized in his open letter. "Well, she didn't say anything. I mean, the only time I heard her daughter say anything was in her finale, which I really did try to watch, although it was difficult," Trump explained while also managing to take another shot at Stewart's show.
Despite The Apprentice's status as television's product placement king, Trump's biggest issue with Alexis appeared to be her clumsy attempt to promote her Sirius Satellite Radio show while answering Stewart's finale question about which candidate she thought should win The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.
"If I were an executive at NBC listening to the daughter say, essentially, 'I'm not going to give you the answer now. I'll give it to you tomorrow on my radio show' [I'd be upset]," said Trump. "Here she is on live television on this great network, 'And I'll give you the answer not now but on my radio show.' I would have probably turned off the sets."
"Well, [it was] certainly mean-spirited, there's no question about it," Trump acknowledged about his open letter to Stewart. "But I think it is mean-spirited when the one person that really came to her defense, really defended her -- I mean, every time I go on a talk show, I'd have to defend her. And I defended her, I got -- what did I get out of it? Nothing. It was my fault that her show failed. So I certainly think it was mean-spirited. But at the same time, I think what she did was mean-spirited."
According to Trump, he always suspected that should Stewart's Apprentice spinoff flop, she'd attempt to blame him for the show's failure. "When the show went on, I thought this might happen. She's highly competitive. I'm highly competitive... it became really a competitive thing. It became a highly competitive thing. It shouldn't have, but that's the way life works in competitive circles."
Brazenly, Trump also admitted that if he had to choose between Stewart's show flopping or succeeding and demonstrating that The Apprentice format could work without him, he'd personally prefer the former. "I guess if I had my choice of having her show be a great success and [as The Apprentice franchise's co-owner] actually making more money or having her show be a great failure and, you know, making me look good, I probably would take the second," Trump told Deutsch. "It's sad to say, but probably that's it."
"We know that if Martha got two people more watching her show than my show, the headlines of every newspaper would have been, 'Martha Trumps The Donald,'" said Trump. "Those headlines were already written. So I had to chose: Do I want her show to be successful or do I want it to be a failure? And there are those that think I was better off having her show fail as it failed. And it's too bad."
In Trump's opinion, all the failure of Stewart's The Apprentice spinoff has done is once again demonstrate his own superiority. "It had to do, not with the concept of the show, because obviously the concept worked," Trump boasted. "I will say this, there have been 15 copies of The Apprentice. Mark Cuban copied, Richard Branson copied, Martha copied, Tommy Hilfiger copied, many others. You know, many others. Every one of them failed and failed badly. So there's something going on with the original Apprentice, and I refuse to tell you what it is."
"I don't think it would have worked. I actually think in retrospect that it was very tough for anybody to follow the success of The Apprentice."