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Open letter to Donald Trump

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Mr. Trump:

First, let me say that I'm a fan. There are very few television personalities who are able to strut and fret across that small screen stage in quite the way you do. Possibly Regis in full dudgeon; Jane Kaczmarek, on "Malcolm in the Middle," is almost as threatening at times; occasionally Cartman from "South Park" gets up the sheer verve. But it is a small and select group, and you, Mr. Trump, may well be first among equals.

There were very few pleasures on television last year equal to the first season of "The Apprentice." An episode of the late, lamented "Wonderfalls" here or there; the odd "Scrubs" or "24"; most of "The O.C."; and possibly a sentimental vote for those last "Frasier" moments.

But when it came to the show you absolutely, positively, couldn't miss, the one that if you found your VCR had somehow refused to record it you'd sob softly to yourself like a small child, there wasn't anything that came close.

But, Mr. Trump - you don't mind that I call you that, do you? "The Donald" seems so impersonal - this new season of "The Apprentice" lacks the Trumptiousness, the Trumposity, the - dare I say it? - the Trumptasticness of the first season. It is, quite simply, not Trumpworthy. If it were an apartment complex or a casino, you'd be looking to sell it to a group of foreign investors.

I suspect you know this as well, Mr. Trump; in these last few episodes, you seem to have been phoning it in. Occasionally literally, like that time you dialed in from the private plane or when the Mars people called you from their conference room, but usually just in the metaphorical, "I'd really rather be canoodling with Melania" sort of way.

I bet you're as confused as I am. You're a builder by trade; work from the same blueprint two times in a row, you get two identical buildings. How could your two seasons turn out so differently? And what can you do to return "The Apprentice" to its former glorious heights, heights that were, if I may be so bold, almost as high as you claimed them to be?

I know that at the beginning of every show, you like to reduce the complexities of business to simple, basic slogans, so instead of attempting to grapple with these questions seriously, I'm going to simply fall back on what I like to call the four P's:


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