August 4, 2015

Will Trump’s reality TV chops propel him in the debate?

Reality TV expert says he’ll be hard to overlook


Donald Trump’s unique mix of candor, confidence and conflict, largely honed during his time on his reality television show “The Celebrity Apprentice,” has helped him corner media coverage in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign – and surge ahead in the polls.

Now comes the first Republican presidential debate this Thursday – the reality show of all reality shows – and Trump is likely to feel right at home, although viewers aren’t likely to hear, “You’re fired!”

The similarities of reality TV and politics – especially with The Donald on the debate stage – are the topic of this bonus episode of the DecodeDC podcast. Host Miranda Green talks with Robert Galinsky, president and coach at the Reality TV School of New York, who sums it up this way:

“Politics has always been reality TV, even before reality TV existed. You can take a lot of qualities of the candidates and look at them like contestants. In reality TV we have people campaigning all the time, saying, ‘Pick me I want to stay in the house, I want to stay on the island.’”

Trump, Galinsky says, already knows how to work the audience and, as a result, raised the bar for his competitors in the process.

“Everything a person does on TV is in order to get more fans and followers, there’s an element of show business that you can’t avoid, and then you got a guy like Trump, who can whip this up in a second,” Galinsky added. “He’s not worried about losing a constituency that he may already have because he’s a business man, he’s a reality star—so he’s changing the rules for everyone.”

Trump has made no secret of his willingness to break the rules in order to get attention or make his opinions known – or both. He’s picked fights with many of his rival GOP candidates, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, who responded by challenging Trump to a pull-up competition. And don’t forget that cell-phone prank involving South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

How Thursday’s debate ends is anyone’s guess but if there’s one thing that’s easy to predict, it’s that viewers will be treated to a spectacle.

Alanna Haefner contributed to this story.