Like Tantalus, doomed forever to stand in a shallow pool, the branches bearing fruit above him just out of reach, the water below receding when he knelt for a drink, so too did viewers of NBC’s The Apprentice look in vain for signs of respectable human behavior. Donald Trump’s exercise in brand building was a series of competitions that largely required mature men and women (well, they almost all had M.B.A.s, so the maturity level is questionable) to act like middle schoolers jockeying for position at the cool kids’ table. Trump held court many floors above the contestants’ living quarters, presumably in an elevated chair to mask his Little Lord Fauntleroy-like appendages, vicariously deciding who to send home and who to “reward” with an extended stay in living conditions which we now know were roughly akin to Bachelor In Paradise, only without the beachfront property.
The Daily Beast got its hands on a contract from NBC’s reality series, and among the many weird aspects included—some of which, it’s noted, are simply the standard reality show tactics of trying to cover all possibilities in as broad a manner as possible—is a requirement that seems more suited to Big Brother, or possibly Sex Box. Contestants were required to be filmed, “whether I am clothed, partially clothed or naked, whether I am aware or unaware of such videotaping, filming or recording.” In short, if Donald Trump wants to install a camera in the bottom of a toilet bowl, and then broadcast those images to America, well, get ready for a true challenge to the idea of Must See TV.
Additionally, all contestants were tested for “HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HPV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes,” and were further informed, “Producer may impose one or more Series Rules regarding the type of sexual activity, if any, that participants will be permitted to engage in.” No word what “Series Rules” consisted of, but it’s fair to assume “dirty talk that disparages the size of Trump’s genitalia” was off the table. After a lengthy list of unapproved items that could not be brought with them (any technology, basically, or more than two suitcases’ worth of clothes and toiletries), contestants had to sign off on the addendum: “I further acknowledge and understand that the film, tape, audio and other recordings that will be made of me in connection with the Series might in other circumstances be considered a serious invasion of my privacy.” Show business is such a glamorous enterprise.
Lest you think this is par for the course for any reality TV show (especially for The Great British Bake Off), The Daily Beast checks in with a regular producer of reality TV. When asked if this was just standard contract language for these types of shows, they laughed and said, “Nothing that I’ve ever worked on,” and, “it does seem a little on the extreme.” Which marks the last time in history that language associated with Donald Trump could only be described as a little extreme.