Firing offensive

April 02, 2004

TRUMP, you're fired.

Sorry. Couldn't resist. Surely the entire TV-watching universe has been exposed to the catch-phrase Donald Trump has popularized with his reality show, The Apprentice. Turns out his own peculiarly coifed head is on the chopping block these days - his Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts are so burdened with debt that a planned refinancing through Credit Suisse First Boston would require him to take the ax as chief executive.

We'd like to gloat. Mr. Trump is, after all, the '80s poster child for tasteless excess and self-promotion. The success of his television show has thrust him back in the public spotlight in a big way - the perfect match of vulgar man with vulgar enterprise.

But here's the thing. He just loves that kind of talk. The Donald has no dignity. That's what makes him The Donald. He's the living embodiment of the notion that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Give The Apprentice's creators some credit. They understood their man. Each week, he forces a group of ambitious Trump-wannabes to pursue some humiliating assignment - last week they had the near-impossible task of recruiting gamblers at his Taj Mahal in Atlantic City (giving some insight to why his casinos are failing). Ultimately, the losers have to grovel in a fake boardroom in front of The Donald, who then contemplates which to fire.

Lowbrow? You bet. But darn if it isn't entertaining.

Maybe The Donald will lose a few bucks on his casinos, but he's still got another billion where they came from. And wouldn't you know it, somewhere there's a boorish man doing the gloating - we just gave him a free ad.

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