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Did reality TV help Donald Trump win the presidency?




Donald Trump attends a
Donald Trump attends a "Celebrity Apprentice" red carpet event at Trump Tower on February 3, 2015 in New York City.
Andrew H. Walker

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Next month will mark the new season of NBC's show "The Celebrity Apprentice."

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be taking over the reins as "the boss," but the show's original star, Donald Trump, will remain an executive producer on the show while serving as the 45th president of the United States.

A recent TIME magazine piece called Trump the first "reality TV president." 

That title might not solely be a reference to Trump's duties on "The Apprentice." Some believe that reality TV played a huge part in Trump's election. 

Television producer Nina Tassler, former head of CBS Entertainment, joined Take Two to discuss the effect of reality TV on American culture and politics.

Interview highlights:

On the "villain becomes the hero" theme that was born on CBS's "Survivor," which some consider the first reality TV hit:

"The psychology behind 'Survivor' was almost Darwinian. The idea was 'survival of the fittest,' and that you would take a group of people from very disparate backgrounds and subject them to nature's harsh climates and weather as well as putting them through a series of competitions and it was survival of of the fittest. But what also emerged was a very interesting form of gaming strategy... and that is where the villains sometimes became the heroes, became the winners. In that case it was Richard Hatch, and you saw that bullying, in terms of certain contestants' behaviors, became an effective gaming strategy."

On the ripple effect of reality TV on our culture:

"I think what happens is we begin to look at the shiny bright object, and you begin to look at the individual, in many cases, in many different shows, who sort of makes the most noise, who's got the best slogan, who's got the biggest brand, and he or she calls the most attention to themselves... And we kind of look to them and say, 'well look, that particular person or character has represented a form of winning a way of achieving that I can replicate.' And I think sometimes we do make the mistake of [forgetting] that these are just television programs, this is not reality."

On the connection between Donald Trump's reality TV background and his winning the presidency:

"I [can't] help but think about an article that Timothy Egan wrote for The New York Times back in January, talking about our eight-second attention span... the idea is that the true scarce commodity of the near future will be human attention, and the fact is, we're so used to sort of listening for the first eight seconds and then everything just becomes a wall of noise. And the people who are the most effective and the most impactful are those that sort of grab your attention in those first eight seconds."

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue media player above.