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Tue Sep 29, 2020, 01:41 AM

"the Apprentice" earned Trump $427 million which he parlayed into $0.


“The Apprentice” may have (temporarily) saved Trump from financial ruin

In the mid-2000s, Donald Trump was drowning financially. That’s when NBC and The Apprentice threw the failed businessman a life raft.

According to a New York Times report on the US president’s taxes, Trump made $427 million off his 50% stake in The Apprentice and the subsequent licensing deals the NBC reality series helped to develop. At the time The Apprentice debuted in 2004, many of Trump’s business ventures were hemorrhaging millions, and he was about to lose his ability to exploit a loophole in US tax code that let him avoid paying taxes for years.

But then The Apprentice swooped in, which not only kept Trump’s finances afloat but also rescued his brand from the brink of irrelevance. Trump hosted the show—filmed on a makeshift boardroom set within Trump Tower—from 2004 until 2015, when he announced a run for US president. Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Trump as host for one season before the show was canceled in 2017.

The Apprentice made Trump appear as though he were an expert business mogul—an image he ran on in 2016 and one he continues to tout as he seeks re-election. That illusion of success was not backed up by Trump’s financial reality, the Times reported. Losses from some of his golf clubs and hotels total in the hundreds of millions. He is still personally responsible for debts and loans worth $421 million.

Before the series premiered, Trump owned only two golf courses. By the time Trump left it in 2015, he owned 15. The windfall from The Apprentice, the Times reported, financed investments in new businesses that regularly operated at losses, and entitled Trump to tax deductions.

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