Variety executive editor and New York Times bestselling author Ramin Setoodeh is writing a reported nonfiction book about “The Apprentice,” the TV show that single handedly changed the course of American history.
HarperCollins has signed a deal to publish the book about the reality TV series starring Donald Trump, which will feature exclusive interviews with everyone from producers who worked on the show to former contestants on “The Apprentice” and its offshoot, “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
When “The Apprentice” launched in 2004, NBC’s primetime lineup was lagging in the ratings, and the network was desperate for a hit. The reality series from Mark Burnett featured a simple premise: a group of ordinary people would compete in business-oriented challenges, until one winner was crowned with a cash prize and a job working for the Trump Organization.
“The Apprentice” became an overnight ratings success, reaching more than 20 million viewers an episode in its first season. And no one benefited from the show more than Trump, who was rebranded from a New York tabloid fixture into a towering national celebrity.
On the show, Trump was depicted as a decisive businessman with a singular acumen, who mercilessly fired subpar contestants in his boardroom. “The Apprentice” created an indelible image of Trump that would later be harnessed to fuel his rise to the White House. This book will offer the previously untold behind-the-scenes story of the invention of an American myth.
That mythmaking was not exclusive to Trump himself. Three of Trump’s children—Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric—served as judges on the program. Future first lady Melania made her debut during the first season as Trump’s girlfriend.
Setoodeh began his career as a reporter at Newsweek, covering “The Apprentice” for the weekly newsmagazine. He conducted many interviews with Trump over the years, and even went undercover to audition for “The Apprentice.”
Setoodeh’s first book, “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View,’” about the daytime talk show created by Barbara Walters, is now being adapted into a TV miniseries. The 2019 title became a New York Times best seller and social media sensation, with repeated mentions by Howard Stern, Andy Cohen and Wendy Williams, among others.
Noah Eaker, vice president and executive editor at HarperCollins, will be editing the book. Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn of Javelin represented the author in the sale.
Says Eaker: “In all the writing about Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, a deeply reported understanding of ‘The Apprentice’s’ role and of Trump’s complicated relationship with Hollywood feels missing. Ramin, with all he brings to bear as an acute reporter and observer of the entertainment industry and pop culture, is uniquely suited to fill in this gap.”