November 15, 2005

"I thought I was replacing The Donald."

"It was even discussed that I would be firing The Donald on the first show." That's how it sounds to be Martha Stewart explaining why your TV show just ... didn't ... succeed.

Here's how it sounds to be The Donald: "I think there was confusion between Martha's `Apprentice' and mine, and mine continues to do well and ... the other has struggled very severely. I think it probably hurt mine and I sort of predicted that it would."

So what's your theory about why Martha's show was never nearly as good as Donald's? Mine is that she always cared too much about her image (and the image of her company, Omnimedia). If you're going to be a bitch, be a bitch. You can't be a please-like-me female at the same time. That's icky. Trump lets himself be a truly weird buffoon (even as he makes a lot of sense a lot of the time). Stewart can't bear to play into her own bizarreness.

Second theory: Trump has Carolyn Kepcher. Everyone loves Carolyn. And Martha had that guy that wasn't quite George. She needed better sidekicks!

Third theory: Trump's show has fabulously dramatic photography, editing, and music. It's just mesmerizing! By comparison, Martha's show felt flat and bland. Did they just not give her as much money, or were the aesthetic choices like her interior decorating choices? Beige, beige, beige.


Dave said...

The Donald cares very much about his image. He wants to be seen as someone who is confident, a quick wit, and caring. At the same time, the confidence that he exudes is probably genuine, and so he doesn't really care if people make jokes about his hair, or the way in which he fires people, etc.

Martha, on the other hand, is rather un-confident and insecure about herself, and it shows in the way she relates to people. Martha is the type of person for whom conflict is an endless source of worry, not amusement. Where The Donald sees conflict as a negotiating tactic, Martha sees it as hell.

Viewers see right through Martha's schtick and are not entertained by it. Instead we either pity or loathe it. The Donald, on the other hand, is endlessly entertaining and genuine. The Donald has stage presence; Martha does not.

Pete said...

Yessss! Apprentice-blogging! Thank you, Ann. Way better than that nutty, and confusing, Alito stuff. (Now, if we can just get some recipe-blogging. Please?)

I’m disappointed about Martha because I’m as obsessed with her shows as I am Trump’s. (I’d sworn I’d never watch another episode of Trump’s after last season yet here I am.) I agree that Trump cares about his image but I find him amazingly tone-deaf about it. Or maybe he truly isn’t bothered by his bizarreness. Or his bizarreness is part of his mad, mad plan to dominate the world. I dunno. But, yes, Martha seems overly concerned about her image and, despite what may be the real truth, I tune in because I find her, and what she’s selling me, more attractive and useful than anything Trump is pitching.

Plus, I can’t wait to see Jim get his comeuppance. Even though he’s been pretty good on the last couple of tasks.

Ron said...

Wondering aloud: Beginning of the end for Martha? Where will we get our decoupage?

SippicanCottage said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Ron: Read the article at the link. The show will play out the season and that's the end.

Pete said...


I don't watch Trump for his business advice. I'm well aware of how he got to where he is today and he really doesn't have much to teach as far as business sense goes.

No, the real reason why I watch his, and Martha's, show is the contestants. Or, more accurately, to see just how much a resume can be inflated then burst in the light of "real" tasks. Honestly, I don't see how many of these people got through the screening process but maybe that was intentional. Still, there's a certain comfort to be had watching these MBA types screw things up at least as bad as I could.

Yeah, these shows really bring out the best in me.

knox said...

Her daytime show doesn't work either. It's really uncomfortable to watch.

JodyTresidder said...

It's because Brand Donald IS Donald Trump and Brand Martha is her empire.
Deep down - in an appallingly delightful way - Donald just knows we are sobbing with envy over his gold taps and his pneumatic third wife. The fact that we're not is neither here nor there. He is the whole point of himself! Martha would never compare a gay relationship to preferring spaghetti over steak on a restaurant menu (as Donald did)because, ultimately, it would reflect awkwardly on her empire's image and not her own.
Though I have to say I am developing a cheerful hate fixation on Martha's sidekick - the one who is conspicuously Not George. The way he waves his supersized tycoon cigar around in his tiny little's so gorgeously awful.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Martha's bottom line seems to be: beauty; Trump's bottom line seems to be: profit. These themes run through all the tasks.

All else between the shows is very similar [blandly indistinguishable?].

Hey! Maybe The Donald or Mark Burnett can fire *Martha* for the last episode.

Adam said...

I think that Martha's show started with a bad pilot/lame task, and it's hard for people to give a reality show a second glance if the first episode isn't compelling. It's the rare show -- Project Runway, say -- that gains momentum as the season continues, but cable shows have the advantage of constant reruns and "catchup" weekends.

Dave said...

Martha's show is re-run on CNBC. At least here in NYC.

Rich said...

I have to disagree with the crowd. I like the Martha version a lot better than the Donald one, because Martha comes across to me as far more professional than Trump, the tasks are more interesting and have something to do with the field Martha is in (what does the endless sponsor-whoring over on the Donald's show have to do with real estate development) and she actually takes the "job interview" conceit with some level of seriousness, whereas Trump plays the whole thing for a game.

Paul said...

Oh, man! You really know how to hurt by even positing that third theory. Have a little mercy. She just got her ankle bracelet off, maybe she was a little rusty from having to compromise with her fellow inmates rather than getting a shank between the ribs or a foul piece of filet.

Paul Worthington said...

My wife and I have been avid watchers of Trump's 'Apprentice' from the beginning. I was looking forward to Martha's. I'm not surprised it's not going to be renewed - it's kinda lame.

Martha's show has two big things going for it that were proven successes in Trump's show: Manhattan, and candidates with wacky antics.

What Martha's version hasn't got are: character sidekicks - George and Carolyn are interesting while Alexis and Charles are boring non-entities from Nowhere.

And, Martha's version hasn't got, well, The Donald. Trump is a character, all right, and people tune in just to see what he's going to do or say next. While I really admire Martha's accomplishments, she comes across on 'The Apprentice' as extremely insincere, very much like she's self-aware all the time and playing a role for the camera. That role, like you pointed out, has a "please like me" factor. She's so self-conscious of her image at all times that she's very stiff and she seems unsure of how to act this part. Trump lets himself be direct and forceful on his show, even if that means rude and bizarre sometimes, while Martha confines herself to be 'proper'. I like Martha Stewart, but I won't miss her 'Apprentice'.

knox said...

Adam: Project Runway, Season 2 starts December 7!!!!!

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

Much of what Donald has in wealth has to do with really generous bankers and debt holders, who allow him a lot of flexibility with the debt on the books of his corporations. But it is his personal flair and outsized personality that makes that possible. He makes them WANT to be connected with him, and not always for the wisest business reasons.

As for the show, I watch both, and it is clear that Trump is not taking any of it too seriously. It is not his bread and butter, it lets him showboat a little. He can be weird or off kilter and play it loose because he has nothing to lose.

Martha, on the otherhand, has to keep her company in mind and the goal of rebuilding her image. I actually doubt she will be overly concerned about the ratings on this show. It has done its job, which was to get her back in the public eye and remove the immediate stigma of prison.

Further, her company has no financial interest in the show, so it's doubtful she would have continued anyway. I tend to feel she is a smart woman, and the main idea was just "Let's get the public used to seeing you again", ratings or not. Either way she wins.

PatCA said...

"He's just a self promoter. Barnum and Bailey sort of guy." Right, and that's what is fun about his show. It's a lark.

Martha's prim personality OTOH does not fit with that format. She needs something with less overt competition.

She acts like she actually would hire one of those people and is understandably worried. Jim?!!

I think she did it to convince people she was NICE--and she's overdoing it.

William said...
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