If Donald Trump fails to win the presidential election this November, what will become of the businessman-turned-reality TV star's coveted brand?
Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a symbol of the billionaire's fame and a salute to his success in the entertainment industry, was vandalized Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. A man dressed as a construction worker reportedly took a sledgehammer to Trump's plaque on Hollywood Boulevard, rendering it illegible. The star, which was dedicated to Trump in 2007, had been defaced previously during this election cycle, an incident that underscores the damage his bold rhetoric has done to his highly cultivated brand.
Trump has gone to great lengths to popularize his name for financial gain — "Trump" is adorned on numerous buildings on New York City's West side, not to mention ties, wines, magazines and colognes. His self-promotion has extended to his decade-plus foray into reality TV with the NBC program "The Apprentice," during which he increased his visibility in the growing multimedia landscape.
"I could say, 'No' [to television] and then I could advertise a project that I’m doing, like Doral or something, and spend a half a million dollars on it or a million dollars, or I can do the show and spend nothing and be on for a lot longer," Trump said in a 2014 interview with the New York Times unearthed Wednesday. "I’ve always felt it was a positive thing."
But while Trump's presidential bid has no doubt upped his name recognition even further and landed him on the global political stage, the effect on his business ventures and celebrity brand has not been entirely positive.
Trump's controversial rhetoric has alienated many former business partners, including NBC, Trump's hotels and golf courses have seen an uptick in reservation cancelations, the scrutiny of many of Trump's previous business ventures, such as Trump Steaks and Trump University, has popularized a skepticism about the Trump brand, and plans to boycott Trump's products, services and hotels have already been launched. Some analysts, as well as fellow billionaire Mark Cuban, are predicting financial ruin for Trump if he falls short of the presidency.
Trump's celebrity standing, as far as the entertainment world is concerned, is in free fall, too. It may be difficult for Trump to return to a reality show similar to "The Apprentice" after having insulted so many groups of potential viewers during the election. And many celebrities who Trump could previously count as friends have publicly turned their backs on him in response to the perceived racism and misogyny he has displayed on the campaign trial. Some, including Salma Hayek, have even added to the mounting sexual assault allegations against Trump.
But maybe Trump already has a plan for his post-election career. The Trump campaign launched a Facebook Live show Tuesday, presented as a news show, that is meant to counteract the alleged left-leaning bias of the mainstream media. The move follows rumors that Trump will launch an alternative media network, nicknamed "Trump TV" by the press if he loses to Hillary Clinton.