Donald Trump, Martha Stewart
Credit: The Apprentice: Virginia Sherwood

Now that’s cold. Not only did Donald Trump dis Martha Stewart, suggesting that her low-rated Apprentice spinoff is dragging his NBC show’s numbers down too, but he did so on a rival network (ABC Radio).

I wanted to accuse Trump of being a fair-weather friend, not to mention a boss showing surprisingly little faith in an employee he hand-picked (since Trump is, after all, an executive producer of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart), but looking back through his statements about the spinoff over the past several months, I couldn’t find any that touted her show with the usual Trump braggadocio, or any boasts that her show would be as successful as his. In fact, if you read between the lines, whatever confidence Trump has displayed in Stewart has always been conditional.

When the spinoff was announced in February, Trump — a man not unfamiliar with hyperbole (“it’s YOOGE!”) — instead issued this carefully worded, lukewarm statement: ”I am thrilled to be able to offer my good friend Martha the opportunity to join me in the success of The Apprentice.” He added, ”As an executive producer, I’ll be rooting for amazing ratings, but most of all, I hope she has as much fun as I do with this venture.”

In an August interview with the New York Times’ Bill Carter, Trump noted that, given his financial interest in Stewart’s show, he wanted to see it succeed — ”Within reason, of course,” wrote Carter. However, Trump and Mark Burnett (producer of both shows) complained to NBC about the network’s plan to schedule the shows on back-to-back nights. Replied NBC entertainment president Kevin Reilly, ”I think there will be a core audience that watches both, but I also think they’ll attract different audiences.” Hmm, guess not. It’s not clear what NBC and Trump can do, in addition to the recent schedule-shuffling of the Stewart show, in order to stanch the bleeding on both series, but bad-mouthing your protégé to a competitor surely can’t help.

addCredit(“The Apprentice: Virginia Sherwood”)