As the finale of The Apprentice approaches, Donald Trump is taking a break from the business focus of his two major bestsellers in the last two years, and instead is offering a compendium called Trump: The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received (Crown). That may leave some room for two biographers to get a word in edgewise, though it remains to be seen if books about Trump will sell anywhere near as well as his own.
The first authorized Trump biography, Robert Slater's No Such Thing as Over-Exposure: Inside the Life and Celebrity of Donald Trump (Prentice Hall/Financial Times; 200,000 first printing), may hold the greatest promise. Borders business book buyer Rich Delahunty expects it to do "very well," since Trump has agreed to promote it on his own syndicated radio show and to call in when Slater appears on Imus in the Morning. "He's obviously a fine business writer," Trump boomed via speakerphone from his New York office, explaining why he agreed to work with Slater, who wrote Jack Welch and the GE Way (McGraw-Hill, 1998). But despite a favorable PW review (Forecasts, Jan. 31), Trump said he's reserving final judgment until he's actually read the book.
Trump need not worry. When it comes to his bankruptcy filing last year—a prickly topic for the business giant who freely discusses the women in his life and revels in having a big ego—Slater downplays its significance. As this biographer sees it, the move boils down to a good business decision that was worth the bad press. The Donald is more critical of Gwenda Blair's Donald Trump: Master Apprentice (S&S, Mar.), an edited and revised hardcover version of her 2000 biography The Trumps, Three Generations That Built an Empire, but Borders's Delahunty expects the book to find a solid audience. And it doesn't hurt that ABC just greenlit a biopic based on the book.
Though biographies of the New York tycoon aren't a recent phenomenon, this is the first time they'll be released in a market with so many Trump-related books. But they may be helped by waning interest in Apprentice spinoffs, according to Bookazine business buyer Jason Chambers: "The show has become less 'show me what you can do' and more 'the blame game.' That alone makes the participants less compelling as experts in the field."
A look at past Apprentice tie-ins finds Trump staffer Carolyn Kepcher's Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from The Apprentice's Straight Shooter (Oct. 2004, Fireside) has been by far the most successful, with sales in the high five figures. First season winner Bill Rancic did second best, with sales in the mid-five figures for You're Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life from the Winner of The Apprentice (Sept. 2004, Harper Business). Meanwhile, the show's producer, Mark Burnett, is on the path to third place with Jump In! Even if You Don't Know How to Swim (Jan., Ballantine). Said Trump: "I blow them all away, though. That's very important, don't you think?"
As a result, booksellers have high expectations for Trump executive George Ross's Trump Strategies for Real Estate: Billionaire Lessons for the Small Investor (Wiley, Feb.). By contrast, Amy Henry, a first-season Apprentice contestant who was eliminated in the second-to-last episode, didn't do so well with What It Takes: Speak Up, Step Up, Move Up: A Modern Woman's Guide to Success in Business (Sept. 2004, St. Martin's).
But the world isn't through singing Trump's praises. Trump recently signed with NBC for two more seasons; Burnett is working on The Apprentice: The Musical; and former contestants Kwame Jackson and Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth are rumored to be working on books. And Trump has other books in mind: "I can tell you what I think Random House would really like me to do next: fiction." Random House senior v-p and editor-in-chief Jonathan Karp, who estimates the house has sold more than four million copies of Trump's titles so far, does nothing to dispel the claim. "We are looking forward to publishing a library of books by him."