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How much Donald Trump earned from The Apprentice and his name

How much Donald Trump earned from The Apprentice and his name

The New York Times has published an investigation revealing President Donald Trump’s taxes, and that includes details about his earnings from his NBC reality show The Apprentice—and the fame that the show’s popularity brought to him.

While he earned $427.4 million from The Apprentice and “licensing and endorsement deals that flowed from his expanding celebrity” between 2004 to 2018, the paper reports that he managed to “escape nearly all taxes on that fortune.” That’s because “collective and persistent losses he reported from [his own businesses] largely absolved him from paying federal income taxes on the $600 million from The Apprentice, branding deals and investments.”

An interactive “timeline of Trump’s finances” breaks that $427.4 million down: Trump’s taxes show that he earned $197.3 million from The Apprentice between 2000 and 2018, while “endorsement and licensing deals” were $230 million from 2000 to 2018. That’s close to what Trump’s campaign said in 2015, which was that, “[d]uring the 14 seasons of The Apprentice, Mr. Trump was paid $213,606,575” by NBC.

In the 18 years, Trump’s investments earned him $178.7 million, while the companies he ran—and that The Apprentice was promoting as wildly successful—lost $174.5 million. The Mark Burnett-produced show “changed [Trump’s] fortunes dramatically” because, in the early 2000s, he “was in financial trouble,” but in 2005, the year he earned the most from the show, it brought in $47.8 million.

During his presidency, he’s continued to earn money from the show: less than “$10 million in 2017 and to $2.9 million in 2018,” the Times reports.

The Apprentice was also used to help offset his tax liability, directly and indirectly. He used income from it “to buy more than 10 golf courses and multiple other properties. The losses at these properties reduced his tax bill,” the report says.

The expenses Trump’s claimed include “more than $70,000 paid to style his hair during The Apprentice,” the paper reported, while “nine Trump entities have written off at least $95,464 paid to a favorite hair and makeup artist of Ivanka Trump,” who served as an adviser on The Apprentice.

President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday, Sept. 24
President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday, Sept. 24. (White House photo by Tia Dufour)

The New York Times analyzed 18 years of tax returns, finding Trump paid no income tax 11 of those years. Trump paid $750 in taxes in both 2016 and 2017. Yes, that’s exactly seven hundred and fifty dollars each year.

During a 2016 debate, when Hillary Clinton referred to Trump not paying federal income taxes, he said, “That makes me smart.”

In a summary of the revelations from the documents, the Times reports that income from The Apprentice did generate income tax, but he got most of it back in a refund:

“Mr. Trump did face large tax bills after the initial success of The Apprentice television show, but he erased most of these tax payments through a refund. Combined, Mr. Trump initially paid almost $95 million in federal income taxes over the 18 years. He later managed to recoup most of that money, with interest, by applying for and receiving a $72.9 million tax refund, starting in 2010.”

That $72.9 million refund is what’s being audited by the IRS.

Three years ago, when part Trump’s 2005 return was leaked to a journalist, Yahoo! Finance obtained Apprentice data from 2004 through 2007, finding that Trump “earned $65 million in ‘participations,’ which are like royalty payments based on the amount of revenue the show took in for product placements and international distribution,” plus “millions more in salary during that time, for total earnings during those 4 years that likely neared or exceeded $100 million, or $25 million per year, on average.”

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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