How Undocumented Alien Mark Burnett Made The ‘Presidential Apprentice’ Possible

I have always said that reality television would be the downfall of western civilization. According to Patrick Radden Keefe at the New Yorker, the man who made Donald Trump’s cultural comeback possible is downright proud of putting all of humanity in danger.

Keefe details how Mark Burnett, the producer behind ‘The Apprentice,’ carefully crafted a new image for the washed-up D-lister that had no relationship to the reality of his sad little empire.

“The Apprentice” portrayed Trump not as a skeezy hustler who huddles with local mobsters but as a plutocrat with impeccable business instincts and unparalleled wealth—a titan who always seemed to be climbing out of helicopters or into limousines. “Most of us knew he was a fake,” Braun told me. “He had just gone through I don’t know how many bankruptcies. But we made him out to be the most important person in the world. It was like making the court jester the king.” Bill Pruitt, another producer, recalled, “We walked through the offices and saw chipped furniture. We saw a crumbling empire at every turn. Our job was to make it seem otherwise.”

According to people who worked on the show, it was where Trump got used to creating his own reality and then letting staff scramble to edit objective reality into a semblance of his imaginary one.

At the end of each episode, Trump determined which competitor should be “fired.” But, as Braun explained, Trump was frequently unprepared for these sessions, with little grasp of who had performed well. Sometimes a candidate distinguished herself during the contest only to get fired, on a whim, by Trump. When this happened, Braun said, the editors were often obliged to “reverse engineer” the episode, scouring hundreds of hours of footage to emphasize the few moments when the exemplary candidate might have slipped up, in an attempt to assemble an artificial version of history in which Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip decision made sense. During the making of “The Apprentice,” Burnett conceded that the stories were constructed in this way, saying, “We know each week who has been fired, and, therefore, you’re editing in reverse.” Braun noted that President Trump’s staff seems to have been similarly forced to learn the art of retroactive narrative construction, adding, “I find it strangely validating to hear that they’re doing the same thing in the White House.”

There is a lot to unpack in this long article, including some nuance about Burnett’s dissatisfaction with the Trump candidacy and presidency. Nevertheless, Keefe leaves the strong impression of a titanic ego with strong whiffs of right wing idiocy. An acolyte of the Tony Robbins self-help cult, Burnett has also referred to himself and his wife as “the noisiest Christians in Hollywood,” hinting at a toxic sense of righteousness.

And check out this quote, which is the sort of thing you get from pompous libertarian assholes on Reddit:

Long before he met Trump, Burnett had developed a Panglossian confidence in the power of branding. “I believe we’re going to see something like the Microsoft Grand Canyon National Park,” he told the New York Times in 2001. “The government won’t take care of all that—companies will.”

Finally, nothing could possibly top the revelation that the British-born Burnett “later described himself as the quintessential immigrant” when he walked out of the airport in Los Angeles on a whim to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood: “I had no money, no green card, no nothing.” He eventually got a green card through his first marriage.

With all this wall-related government shutdown drama and refugee caravan hysteria, it would figure that Trump rose to his fake glory on the back of an undocumented alien.

I recommend that you read the whole thing here.

Featured image via JD Lasica Flickr / Gage Skidmore Flickr