Trump this, pal

April 15, 2004

FOR ALL who suffer imperious bosses, backstabbing co-workers, vicious gossip, mindless paperwork, cold-hearted performance reviews, impossible job demands, and incompetent subordinates, we can offer three words of advice:

Call your agent.

Turns out the slow torture of white-collar life translates into big ratings on television these days. Witness tonight's final episode of The Apprentice. Millions of Americans will tune in to see which of the two finalists culled from Donald Trump's original 16 contestants lands the plum $250,000 management job. Let the humiliation begin.

But wait, there's more. Hollywood has taken notice of the Donald's surprising popularity this season. British billionaire Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame has a fall reality show in the works, Branson's Big Adventure, where contestants scramble through a series of challenges. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is reportedly going to give a million dollars to one of the contestants on a show called The Benefactor. In The Partner, a bunch of recent law school grads will compete against one another in mock trials to win a coveted law firm partnership.

Even banality sells. One of the most critically praised comedy shows of the last two seasons has been a little BBC gem, The Office, a documentary-style look at 9-to-5 life in excruciating detail. Technically speaking, it's fiction -- but hey, television has evolved. They don't draw arbitrary lines between reality and pretend anymore.

So here's today's to-do list: Get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, turn on TV and watch other people get up, get dressed, go to work, come home and eat dinner. The next step in this entertainment evolution is obvious: a reality show where office workers sit around watching a reality show about office workers. It's certain to be a hit, particularly if we can find some self-aggrandizing billionaire to get involved.

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