Like it or not--and if The Apprentice's flagging ratings are any indication, it's likely "not"--Donald Trump is going Hollywood.
The real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star has announced plans to launch a Los Angeles-based production company to oversee a host of upcoming Donald-centric small-screen projects, plucking a former Apprentice castoff to run the operation.
"There are so many things being thrown at me, a lot of them based in L.A., I just though it would be appropriate," he said at a press conference Wednesday. "It's a business I like."
Disgruntled viewers need not throw out their television sets yet, however, as Trump assures the trade mag that showbiz won't be his entire focus.
"I'm not giving up the real estate," he said.
He's also not going it alone.
Trump has enlisted the help of former Apprentice contestant Andy Litinsky, the baby-faced Harvard debate champ who found himself on the wrong end of a "you're fired!" during the reality competition's second season.
Litinsky got the boot after failing as project manager during a challenge in which teams were ordered to design an "exciting" new Pepsi bottle.
Apparently his deal-making prowess is better than his bottle-designing skills.
"He's a very talented guy, a very fine student from Harvard, and he's going to be terrific," said Trump, calling Litinsky's Apprentice flameout "a particularly bad night."
And despite his onair dismissal, Litinsky clearly made a good impression on the tycoon: For the past two-and-a-half years, Litinsky has worked for the Trump Organization's real estate sector.
"He's a very capable guy," Trump said.
Litinsky will head up the Donald's as-yet unnamed company--though there's only so many ways the words "Trump" and "Productions" can be transposed--which will actively develop TV projects for the 60-year-old mogul.
The development is good timing for Trump, who's currently filming sixth season of The Apprentice in Los Angeles rather than New York.
And while Trump will obviously be producing all projects that land at his company, he won't necessarily always take center stage.
His company's first project will be a reality competition based on the board game Monopoly. He's already teamed up with documentarian R.J. Cutler (The War Room, 30 Days) and game manufacturer Hasbro for the series, which will again pit wannabe moguls against each other to acquire dilapidated properties, fix them up and flip them.
It's unknown whether the unnamed show will film in Atlantic City, the city the classic board game is based on and one in which Trump has a strong real estate presence, or elsewhere. It's also unclear what, if any, starring role Trump will have in the show, though his screen time will likely be determined by which network picks up the show and whether The Apprentice is in production at the same time.
NBC just announced it was picking up a seventh edition of the show for 2008. The sixth season, now in production, is set to air in January.