Few could have been surprised when Donald snr, during the final episode at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday, wrapped things up with a cliffhanger. “Goodbye, we love you,” he said, with Melania, in funereal black, beside him. Then the teaser: “We will be back, in some form.”
What did he mean? A return in 2024? Before? With a new cast? With a podcast? As the world speculated, it might just be that the Trump family’s next move is, in fact, the most obvious one: they’ll launch the reality TV series they were always destined for.
It’s easy to see the argument from their side. Like the Kardashians, the Osbournes, and even the “F—ing Fulfords” before them, the Trumps could build a new brand by allowing cameras into their homes, capturing the banality of their domestic lives as they struggle to reassimilate into society in Florida.
Donald and Melania are set to stay at Mar-a-Lago, while Ivanka, who once showed a camera crew around her home for a documentary about inherited wealth called Born Rich, has bought a plot of land with Jared on nearby Indian Creek Island. And Tiffany is “actively looking” for a house in Miami Beach.
Think about it. A prime-time TV show would keep them in the public eye while they worked out their next political move, give Donald the platform he’s been denied by most social media sites, and leverage hundreds of millions of dollars – which they may need, if certain lawsuits don’t go their way.
Trump sounds as if he’s tempted. “In the past two weeks, the people familiar with the matter note, Trump has casually slipped into conversation lines such as, ‘How would you like to see The Apprentice come back?’ and ‘Remember The Apprentice?’” the Daily Beast reported last month.
Having reportedly profited to the tune of $197 million over 16 years from playing the “Suralan” role in the US version of The Apprentice, as well as generating a further estimated $230 million from the fame the franchise gave him, it must be food for thought. So must getting the rest of the family involved: the Kardashians reportedly earned $150 million for the final five series of their show, while Sharon Osbourne apparently demanded $20 million in salaries, a new home, expenses and dog therapy bills from MTV when The Osbournes took off.
Trump, remember, is a man who’s never troubled himself with realistic estimates of his own popularity, so he must look at the kind of deals Netflix has struck with the Obamas and Sussexes and assume he can do much, much better. “I made all that money from The Apprentice, which people loved, they said it was one of the greatest shows they’ve ever seen,” you could imagine his thinking going. “Imagine how popular ‘Keeping Up with the Trumps’ could be …”
Not for the first time he might be wrong, says Claire Enders, founder of British media analysts Enders Analysis. “There is no platform that would offer a financial inducement [to the Trumps], apart from an obscure one we don’t know about yet.
“There are a few giant cash machines in the world, and we know what they’re called: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Netflix. Trump isn’t going to get a $100 million deal from a broadcaster.”
And yet. He does have the ability to be morbidly fascinating, and a God-given ability to confound the world. Imagine channel hopping and stumbling upon “Go Trump in the Night”, a series about a family attempting to live a normal life under the cover of darkness. Or “Ivanka Says Thank Her”, following the former first daughter as she demands gratitude from the American people. Or “Tiff I Could Turn Back Time”, a spin-off series in which Tiffany tries to erase her past. You’d watch them all. Alas, these things may never be seen.
“I knew the Trumps in the ’80s,” says Enders, the daughter of a US diplomat under Nixon and Reagan. “They’re the most ridiculous people. They’re very secretive, they behave as if they are very special people. They will become recluses, they will see each other, with a tiny court. But I really don’t think they will be able to raise any money.”
The Telegraph, London