But the story—titled "How the Trump Show Gets Old" inside the magazine and on the web—isn't about what you may think it's about (the Mueller investigation or other existential crises facing the Trump adminstration). Rather, it's about the fact that, as the story's subhead puts it, "A big slump in season two is a hallmark of the president's entire career. This time the 'show' is the White House, and his response will affect the world. So what are we in for?"
Senior Staff Writer Michael Kruse intially does something that many others have done: He draws parallels between Trump's time on NBC's "The Apprentice" and his adminstration to date. For instance,
The theater of Trump's presidency is unmistakably borrowed from "The Apprentice." The show was built around a boardroom, with high-backed chairs, Trump's the tallest. "Thank you, Mr. Trump," the contestants said. The presidency has introduced a new and oddly parallel ritual, where cameras are invited for televised "meetings" with congressional leaders or Cabinet members. "Thank you, Mr. President," they say.
But Kruse's analysis goes deep and grows more fascinating, in part because he went back and closely watched "The Apprentice"—which suffered a massive ratings decline going from season one to season two—and also because he draws convincing paralells to other repeating patterns in Trump's history:
The relentless decline of "The Apprentice" reflects a splash-and-crash cycle that's been a hallmark throughout Trump's life—from his buildings to his casinos to even his brief stint as a sports team owner. His initial successes are often followed by reckless decisions to double down on his bet, just to keep the excitement going—with often disastrous results.
The second season of "The Apprentice" premiered in 2004—by which point, Kruse writes, "Trump's record of sophomore slumps was long and clear." What's also clear from Kruse's analysis is that Trump's way of dealing with his inevitable "splash-and-crash" tendencies also follows a pattern—one that's being eerily echoed in the behavior of Trump circa 2018.
Read Kruse's full feature here.