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Real-estate mogul Donald Trump.


TRUMP FIRES SELF: OK, it’s not the most clever headline you’re going to read on the subject in the next day or two, but you know that no one will be able to resist some variation on it when announcing the news that Donald Trump has left The Apprentice, apparently as a preemptive strike after NBC pointedly left the show off its schedule for the next TV season.

“It looks like viewers will have to wait to see what Mr. Trump plans for the future," Trump said in a statement reported by Reuters. "But if Mr. Trump's past TV success is any indication of the future, then one can anticipate that millions of Apprentice fans will be migrating to his new venture.”

The Apprentice was the top-ranked new show when it debuted in 2004, but it lost two-thirds of its viewership before ending its sixth season last month. NBC had until the start of next month to come up with a new deal for the show, according to a New York Daily News story last week, which quoted NBC entertainment president Kevin Reilly saying that Trump has “a certain magic,” and that “we love him, we want to stay in business with him." If love just wasn’t enough, according to the story, Trump could take the show to any other interested network.

Wisely, one hopes, Trump has left The Apprentice and NBC behind, in what looks like a face-saving move. Whether there are, in fact, millions of Apprentice fans hotly anticipating Trump’s next TV venture, it’s always fun to speculate on what that might be.

The Apprentice lost its lustre when the Donald started drifting from his core competency – real estate – and began exclusively presenting contestants with marketing and branding challenges. Cable networks are full of shows about real estate makeovers, trading up and flipping with small but devoted followings – Trump could supersize the concept, presenting teams of contestants with mansions, subdivisions and condo complexes to rehab and sell instead of apartments and broken-down bungalows.

Given Trump’s own signature style of home decorating, he could go head to head with Justin and Colin and Debbie Travis, and descend on some unsuspecting individual and their outdated décor, armed with a team of handymen and women and a tractor trailer full of marble, gilt, brocade and ormolu. They could call it The Donald’s Really Big Makeover, or more accurately, Trump’s Hapsburg Bordello Roadshow; hey, baby – I’d TiVo it.