Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Trump Money Model

It is interesting that in a time when Donald Trump’s casino business is fully engaged in bankruptcy proceedings that he has actually found something better than a slot machine for making money. First there was the trademarked catch phrase, “You’re fired” followed once per season by the less than creative foil, “You’re hired.” Then, of course, there is all the merchandizing. Finally, if that isn’t enough, there is the fact that Trump is the Executive Producer of the show, meaning: muchos dineros para Trump!

So, it would be foolish to think that The Apprentice is even remotely about the hiring of a company President from a pool of qualified applicants; or, for that matter, even about giving a deserving young entrepreneur the opportunity to learn at the side of a well known businessman. Let us consider some thing about the show. If one were going to hire a company President for one of Trump’s business what would it take? Let’s look at the casinos, since they have been in the news lately. As President of Trump Hotels & Casinos, Scott Butera was making at least $1.5 million, and that was while he was still and E-VP. The $250,000 the “winner” of this game gets is 1/6 of that salary. Certainly, the project each winner works on is smaller than an entire casino operation, but Trump is also not paying anywhere close to top dollar for a top notch candidate.

If you were not able to tell before this past week’s episode, the formula for the show has finally matured and we get to see what this show is all about, product placements. At least ½ of an episode’s cost is deferred by a product placement. For the product placement and also the model to work, though, the company making the placement has to both look good and make the show/contestants looks good. As we saw last week, companies like Pepsi will do anything to make this model work. Let’s look at the two designs: bulbous semi-globes at each end for one team and a molding of a D&G into a bottle with the hole in the D actually cutout completely so that, according to the contestants, “promotional materials” can be inserted. Of course the first bottle described would fit into exactly zero currently manufacturer cup holders, a major problem for getting a product to market. If that weren’t enough this hideously ugly bottle is going to change the dimensions of the bottle as much, or more as the second design. SO, one bottle is going to be much shorter than a standard Persi 20oz bottle and the other, because of a loss of space, is going to be much taller. Yep, you guessed, it, we going to have to redesign the packaging and display racks for this new product. Furthermore, the with second bottle, I don’t have any hard numbers, but anyone even remotely familiar with the look of a 20oz bottle can tell the cost of the new bottle that Trump’s winning team designed with the cutout was going to be several orders of magnitudes more costly than the standard bottle, or even the losing bulbous bottle. In other words, if anyone at Pepsi had thought enough of either of these ideas to actually voice them, they would have been laughed out of the room.

In the end, Pepsi made Trump look good by not giving these contestants the berating they deserved and declaring them both losers and Trump made Pepsi look good as the were featured on a television show where he rewarded the “winning” team with the opportunity to drive Lamborghini’s on a closed track. Thus, the product placement on “reality” show model is proven effective and solidified. Welcome to the new reality show reality, all product placements, all the time.

All in all, The Apprentice may be one of the best comedies currently on the tube.


Post a Comment

<< Home