Trump said ratings are his ‘whole life’: Biographer

Former President Trump said that ratings are his “whole life,” according to a new biography about him released earlier this week.

Author Ramin Setoodeh, who interviewed the former president six times for the book, appeared on MSNBC’s “All In” with Chris Hayes on Tuesday. Hayes read an excerpt from the new book that described Trump looking at the Nielsen ratings published in a 2004 issue of Variety after the first-season finale of “The Apprentice” aired.

“This sheet of paper comes from an America where ‘The Apprentice’ was, if only for a single week, the No. 1 show,” Hayes read from the book.

“’This is my whole life,’ Trump says,” Hayes added.

Setoodeh, the co-editor-in-chief of Variety, emphasized how important television ratings were to the former president.

“And he said it with a straight face, and he meant it,” Setoodeh told Hayes in response to the excerpt. “And this is a former president of the United States looking back on Nielsen ratings from 20 years ago, that he has framed not only in his office in Trump Tower, but when I visited him in Mar-a-Lago, there’s also a copy of the Nielsen ratings framed there.”

“Ratings are what drives him. Audiences [are] what is important to him,” he added.

Hayes then asked why Trump being popular on television helped him win his first bid to the White House.

“It worked because he was funny on TV, and he would say crazy things and be rewarded because on reality TV, the more outrageous you are, the better you do. And the American public liked that, but it’s also an act. He’s playing a character,” Setoodeh replied.

Setoodeh interviewed Trump six times starting in May 2021 for his book, “Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass,” which was released Tuesday.

In a separate appearance on CNN’s “The Source” on Tuesday, Setoodeh said Trump was “happiest” when talking about “The Apprentice.”
“It was the thing that brought him the most joy. We watched clips of the show, together. We watched the theme song. And he really lit up,” he said on CNN.

In a statement to The Hill, Steven Cheung, communications director for Trump’s campaign, took aim at Setoodeh for his recent comments.

“After recognizing the importance of The Apprentice, its significant cultural impact on a global scale, and President Trump’s remarkable role in forever changing the landscape of entertainment, this ‘writer’ has now chosen to allow Trump Derangement Syndrome to rot his brain like so many other losers whose entire existence revolves around President Trump,” Cheung said.

Updated at 11:36 a.m. EDT

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