How to watch and enjoy The Apprentice even though Donald Trump is an ass

The Celebrity Apprentice is, without question, the most consistently awesome competition reality show airing right now. Nearly every minute of each two-hour episode is highly entertaining.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, is without question proving himself to be a complete asshole and hypocrite: On his maybe-real, maybe-publicity seeking exploration of a presidential campaign, he’s now joined with the lunatics questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, despite the clear, verified, hard evidence to the contrary–and hilariously failing to release his own birth certificate for a long time after he falsely claimed the president did the same thing.

Now, appearing on TV to disagree with policy is one thing. (I voted for Obama and there’s plenty about his work that I disagree with and complain about.) But denying a fact backed up by evidence is like disagreeing with the existence of gravity: you just look like a moron as you try even harder to prove that you’re right.

So, that brings us to The Celebrity Apprentice. How is it possible to enjoy the show once you realize that its host and producer is a stupid ass who you probably don’t want to support in any way?

Here’s the secret: Donald Trump has always been a stupid ass, and celebrating that is part of the fun of the show.

The Apprentice is basically an urban version of Survivor, and the major difference between the two besides the locations and challenges is that the show replaced democracy with dictatorship. Donald Trump and his famous “you’re fired” cobra get rid of candidates for any reason. He could pick a winner before the show even starts if he wanted to.

Over its 11 seasons, his rationale has been wildly inconsistent. Sometimes he values loyalty; other times he values honesty. That hypocrisy is super-frustrating, but part of who he is. (It takes an incredible lack of self-awareness for a man who has been married three times to oppose not just gay marriage but the rights of gay couples to receive equivalent benefits.)

All you really need to know about Trump happens after he fires someone. He stares blankly and says something like, I really had no choice; that was the only decision. The phrasing always eliminates the possibility that there are any other options; he’s convincing himself more than us.

He’s doing what stupid, ignorant, or intellectually insecure people do: Ignoring actual evidence and stubbornly sticking to beliefs that provide comfort. This is often frustrating and unbelievable and dumb. It can also be satisfying and entertaining when he makes a decision we agree with, just as it’s interesting when he does something totally random and unexpected that it’s shocking. The point is, though, that The Apprentice has always held Donald Trump up as a hypocritical, ridiculous reality show cast member who has more ego than self-awareness.

While the series pimps his brands and makes him money, let’s not forget all the good the show does in terms of raising money for charity. And the show certainly does not endorse him. It’s actually the opposite: it shows him for who he really is, and let’s us laugh at and mock him. Seeing that reality–never mind the entertainment from the majority of the episode that has nothing to do with him–makes it possible to watch and enjoy a show starring an increasingly big ass.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.