Last weekend NBC held open casting calls for a new, “unscripted” reality show, The Apprentice. The lucky winner will earn a six-figure salary for watching Donald Trump go about his business.
Trump will probably regale The Apprentice—and television audiences—with tales of his conquests (both financial and carnal). After all, he hasn’t been shy about detailing his exploits in Trump: The Art of the Deal, Trump: Surviving at the Top,and Trump: The Art of the Comeback. But The Donald’s oeuvre has omitted some of his less towering achievements from print. And it’s unlikely they’ll see serious airtime on television.
However, an exclusive “Moneybox” investigation has uncovered storyboards for some Apprentice episodes that didn’t quite make the cut. (Note to all parties concerned, including Mr. Trump, his lawyers, and NBC: While the historical events referred to occurred, all dialogue is fictional.)
Episode No. 15: How to win friends and influence analysts.
Trump (DT) and The Apprentice (TA) are having drinks at Whiskey Park. TA checks his Blackberry and sees that an analyst has issued a negative report on Trump bonds.
TA: “How should we respond?”
DT: “Let’s get the guy fired.”
TA: “Really, you can do that?”
DT: “Sure. Let me tell you about what happened back in 1990.”
DT launches into a description of how Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Marvin Roffman issued a negative report on the bonds of the Trump Taj Mahal, the just-opened Atlantic City casino. Roffman predicted the casino could easily go bust. Trump produces a copy of the letter he wrote to Janney Montgomery Scott’s CEO, calling for Roffman to be cashiered—or else a lawsuit would follow.
DT: “So this guy’s been working there 17 years, and they give him a choice: apologize to me, or go.”
TA: “So what happened?”
DT: “He goes.”
TA: “Cool. Then what?”
DT: “Well, the Taj went bust within several months of the report.”
Back at the office, Trump shows The Apprentice papers from the settlement he made with Roffman after Roffman sued both him and Janney.
DT: “When you settle like that, never disclose terms.”
TA: (nodding repeatedly) “So he, like, turned out to be right. Right?”
DT: “Yeah, but by then he was, like, out of a job.” (Hearty laughter)
Episode No. 12: Managing Debt
The Apprentice, looking distraught, walks into Trump’s office. The Donald is having his hair done.
DT: “Why the long face, kid?” (shouting, over the blow-dryer)
TA: “I’m having trouble managing my personal finances.”
DT: “Let’s have a look.”
The two sit at Trump’s desk and spread out a sheaf of papers. Camera pans to show outstanding mortgage on condo of $500,000, student loans of $136,000, and credit card bills totaling $47,000. Trump looks through them, and then calls up a spreadsheet program on the computer.
DT: “Your problem isn’t that you have too much debt.”
TA: “It isn’t?”
DT: “No. Your problem is that you don’t have enough. … Look, if these guys repossess your apartment, or just write off the loans, it won’t hurt them at all—a couple hundred grand won’t affect their balance sheet. But when you’re on the hook for nearly a billion dollars—well, you can bring down a bank or two if you default. Now you’ve got the power!”
Trump relates how banks were more than willing to extend credit to his growing empire—the Trump shuttle, office buildings, the Plaza Hotel—and to him personally, when times were good in the 1980s. But once the recession took hold, they started getting antsy. Trump’s empire carried a few billion dollars in debt, and he had personal liability of about $900 million. (Camera pans to headlines predicting the demise of the Trump empire.)
TA: “Wow. You could have lost everything.”
DT: “That was never in the cards. These guys are wussies. The last thing they want to do is force you into bankruptcy and into court. They’ll never get paid.”
TA: “So how did you get out of this mess?”
DT: “You’ve got to decide what you really want and what you really need. I didn’t really want the Trump Shuttle, or my 228-foot yacht, or 49 percent of the Plaza Hotel. So I turned them over to lenders in exchange for cutting debt. Good riddance to bad rubbish. I needed Trump Tower—it’s where I lived—and control of the casinos. And that’s what I got. In the end I came out better than OK, I came out spectacularly.”
TA: “And what about the bankers?”
DT: “They had to eat a piece of the loan. I was going to write a book about it: Trump: The Art of the Cram Down.” (High-fives The Apprentice.) Now let’s go buy you a real apartment—I’ve got a few at Trump Palace—and charge a few dozen suits at Armani.”
Episode No. 8: Corporate Governance
Trump and The Apprentice are preparing for the annual shareholders’ meeting of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc.
DT: “So we’ll have it at the Taj, like we always do. Just make sure we don’t send out too many invitations. Sometimes, we get negative people at these events.”
TA: “What will we put in the goody-bags? This year, McDonald’s gave out happy meals.”
DT: “How about $2 in gambling chips?”
TA: “That doesn’t sound like very much.”
Trump: (punching some figures on a Bloomberg machine) “Look, it’s more than a share of the stock is worth. Besides, it’s not like they’ve ever received a dividend.”
TA: “True. But didn’t the stock used to be worth a lot more?”
DT: “Well, we did go public in June 1995, at about 14. And then it went up as high as the 30s a year later. But lately? Not so good.”
TA: “I prepared some charts showing the performance of Trump’s stock vs. the S&P 500 over the past eight years.”
DT: “Yeesh. That looks like one of those ski slopes Ivana used to like so much.”
TA: “But aren’t you upset? I mean, you own 42 percent of the stock, and it’s lost, like, 90 percent of its value over a period when stock prices rose dramatically.”
Trump: “That’s just paper money. There are other ways to get paid. Here, look at our proxy. Check out the ‘executive compensation’ section.”
TA: “Wow. It looks like in the past three years you’ve received $4.5 million in salary, 1.5 million options, and $8.7 million in ‘other compensation.’ What’s that?”
DT: “For several years, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts paid major consulting fees to another company that I owned.”
TA: “Is that kosher?”
DT: “Totally. We disclose everything. The Donald has no secrets. Listen—one thing you should learn about life at the top. They’ve got to give you a lot more than your salary and a bonus to show up for work.”
TA: “Awesome. I’ve got to get NBC to give me some of that ‘other compensation.’ Hey, look. By my calculations you’ve received cash compensation of about $22 million from the company since 1996, not counting options. But the whole company is only worth about $42 million.”
DT: “Pay for performance, baby. Did you go to Wharton, too?”
TA: “So the house always wins.”
Trump: (puts his arm around The Apprentice) “You’re learning fast.”