Author says part of Trump ‘always wanted to return’ to reality TV: ‘He just wants to be famous’

An author who spent hours talking to former President Trump for his new book says there’s a part of the “Apprentice” star that “always wanted to return” to reality TV.

“Trump feels that a huge part of his legacy is ‘The Apprentice,’ and he’s really proud of what he created,” Ramin Setoodeh, author of “Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass,” told ITK on Tuesday, the day of his book’s release.

Trump starred as the face of the NBC reality competition series, and its spin-off, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” from 2004 to 2015.

“When he hosted a reality show, he was broadly loved, very popular, and he’ll recall that period of time in his life with great fondness,” Setoodeh said.

“What’s so interesting is that when Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, they didn’t actually tear down the boardroom, which was the set in Trump Tower. They left it up for a number of months while the campaign was sort of finding its way, finding its path and I think the family was navigating whether or not this was real,” added Setoodeh, the co-editor in chief of Variety.

“So to me, that speaks volumes to the fact that I think, deep down, there was a big part of him that always wanted to return to ‘The Apprentice,’ even though that’s not something he was allowed because it would admit some sort of defeat or suggest the presidency was a consolation prize,” he continued.

When Setoodeh interviewed Trump for the book, he said he asked the 45th president if he’d ever want to make a reality TV comeback.

“He said that going back to something that you used to do is kind of like going back to a relationship that you’ve left.”

That, Setoodeh recalled, “prompted a follow-up question for me about why then is he going back to the presidency? And he said, you know, he was cheated out of the presidency in 2020 and [he] spread more election lies about how he was really the winner and Joe Biden wasn’t.”

Setoodeh, who wrote 2018’s “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View,'” said when Trump heard in 2021 that he was penning a book about “The Apprentice,” he actually approached him, offering to participate. The journalist sat down with Trump six times through last year, interviewing the ex-commander in chief for at least an hour at a time.

“What I really took away from my time with Donald Trump is that as a person, as a subject, he hasn’t changed. The presidency hasn’t changed him. He still views the world through the lens of reality TV. He conducts himself like a reality TV star. He’s driven and motivated by ratings in the same way that he was as a reality TV star,” Setoodeh said.

“He is the same Donald Trump that he’s always been. He hasn’t learned from the presidency. He hasn’t grown from the presidency. He’s not even particularly interested in being president of the United States, in terms of when it comes to legislative duties or responsibilities,” he said.

“He just wants to be famous, and he really just wanted to talk to me about how good of an entertainer he is, and how great he was at making good TV.”

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