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‘The Apprentice’ Is Responsible for Donald Trump’s Success in Presidential Race, NBC Exec Says

According to NBC’s head of reality television, Donald Trump’s political success can be traced back to “The Apprentice.”

When asked on Tuesday if Trump would have become the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee had it not been for “The Apprentice,” Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming, said: “Of course not.”

Speaking at a lunch for the Hollywood Radio and Television Society (HRTS) at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., Telegdy — who spoke alongside panelists Charlie Corwin of Endemol Shine, Mike Darnell of Warner Bros., FremantleMedia North America’s Trish Kinane and WME’s Sean Perry — admitted that NBC staffers who worked with Trump on “Apprentice” are taken aback by the former reality star-turned-politician’s place in the race.

“We’re so wrapped up in what’s been going on the last few months, as you can imagine,” Telegdy said, prodded to speak about Trump by Michael Schneider, IndieWire’s executive editor and Variety’s editor-at-large. “It’s all very, very peculiar. The guy is walking around getting a load of votes.”

Trump became host of “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” after years as a successful business mogul, but the show earned him widespread exposure and even a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (which has been vandalized during campaign season).

“What’s going on demonstrates, if nothing else, the enormous amount of responsibility that goes with the job of putting out the version of someone that we do in a TV show,” Telegdy said, calling “The Apprentice” a “master” that “created a phenomenon television personality.”

Telegdy added, “I think his persona seems to be in lockstep with his persona on the show… I don’t think where Donald is in this campaign is any surprise to anyone who was close to him.”

During the panel conversation, the British exec couldn’t help but offer his own opinion: “It’s your country,” he cracked. “I’ve got somewhere else I can go!”

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