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Series renewal, Siena poll trump The Donald's run

 By Alan Pergament

Regular readers of this blog know I have been more than a little skeptical of the idea that Donald Trump will run against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014.

About a month ago, I wrote that "I figure the chance that Trump will actually run against Gov. Andrew Cuomo is equal to the chance that President Obama was born in Kenya. But Trump certainly does know how to get attention."

I explained two weeks later after The Donald responded with an email that "I was being sarcastic by saying I wanted him to run so his show ("The Celebrity Apprentice") could be canceled. The line about the chance of President Obama being born in Kenya was a shot at Trump, who has foolishly pushed that idea."

I haven't moved from my skeptical position despite the increasing attention that a foolish Trump run has received from Western New York Republicans.

I also had to laugh this morning when I read on Huffington Post that Trump is now floating the idea that he might run for president in 2016. How's this as a sales pitch to be governor: "Vote for me in 2014 and I promise to leave in 2016."

But I digress.

At the time of my original blog item, I added that "NBC still hasn't officially announced that 'The Celebrity Apprentice' with Donald Trump is going to return for another season but it is expected to be back next spring or summer."

Now, the network has semi-officially confirmed the show is returning.

During the semi-annual Television Critics Association meetings in Pasadena,Calif., NBC's Paul Telegdy,  the head of reality television for the network, told a group of reporters last week that the series is returning.

"We’re going to shoot in the spring and it will be available as an option in the fall," he reportedly said after a press conference when reporters try to ask additional questions.

One of my old TV critic friends at the meeting told me that whether Trump would be involved wasn't discussed. If I had been there, I would have asked that question.

NBC had considered canceling the series, which a decade ago was No. 1 among viewers in the  demographic category of 18-49 when it was just called "The Apprentice."

Trump likes to say it was the No. 1 show on television, but that only pertained to demographics,  not overall ratings.

In the decade since, the ratings slipped to the point that the show was reinvented to feature celebrities in career decline. And the ratings decline led to speculation for months that it might be canceled last spring.

NBC finally made its semi-official announcement last week.

You would think it wouldn't have renewed the show without assurances from Trump that he would still be around to say "you're fired."

He couldn't be spending the time this spring on the show if he were running for governor and NBC couldn't carry the show next fall if he were running, either, because of equal time provisions.

However, this isn't the first time NBC has had to consider continuing the series without him.

When Trump supposedly considered running for president in 2011, NBC executives claimed the show could go on with his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, and without him

"It's such a strong franchise, not to minimize his presence in it because we love him, but I really do think it's all about the casting of that show and the challenges," NBC's chairman of entertainment, Robert Greenblatt told The Hollywood Reporter.

However, that was three years ago.

It isn't such a strong franchise anymore.

I'm no political pundit and I've been known to be wrong more often than Trump has considered running for office.

But add NBC's  announcement to the Siena Poll that suggests Trump doesn't have a prayer against Gov. Cuomo and I still say the chance he will run are equal to the chance that President Obama was born in Kenya.

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