Monday, March 01, 2004

Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" is giving us an unwitting look at the reality behind reality TV.

A couple of weeks ago, the challenge was to fix up and rent an apartment in a couple of days. And even in New York, apartments have been known to go vacant longer than that. So it was a real streak of luck for what turned out to be the winning team when a prospect walked in just before they had to shut down, and rented the place for a very high markup over the assessed value. Or something like that:

Though [prospective tenant Deborah] Young appeared to enter the apartment just before the 5 p.m. deadline, she says she was actually there earlier in the afternoon to witness the circus of producers, camera crews and microphones parading through the one-bedroom space.

When she asked what the show was about, she said she was told that it was top secret and she would have to watch NBC to find out.

Young left without bidding on the apartment, but still homeless later in the day, she returned to the clutches of [Team] Protégé, who were only too willing to sign her to a lease.

However, before she signed the lease, she apparently obtained an off-camera promise from the landlord that he would rent her the apartment at the original price he had quoted--which he did.

This may not be a case of deliberate deception -- it's not clear that the show's producers knew about the off-camera agreement either. (Though they certainly could have followed up with the tenant later, regardless).

But at the very least, beware the editing. The most accurate predictions of votes on "Survivor" (produced, like "The Apprentice", by Mark Burnett) have generally come from people who just pay attention to which film clips the producers are choosing to show, which becomes particularly obvious on "Survivor" when people are clearly reacting to character traits of other contestants which haven't shown up on-screen...


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