It’s funny, I actually have a good answer to this question.
I’m 32. I didn’t live through the 80s (I mean, not in a culturally conscious sense - obviously I was alive) and I wasn’t paying attention during the 90s to Trump’s career. And I never watched reality shows, so I didn’t know anything about his persona on the Apprentice. There was one thing, and one thing only, that I knew about Donald Trump, other than how he looked and the fact that he was very rich and lived in New York:
I had a book as a teenager called “Get Strong”, one of many “teenage motivational books” given to me by my parents. The book was by a guy named Jake Steinfeld, who built a successful career selling fitness programs. And periodically in the book, he would provide quotations from other successful people interspersed with his own narrative. This is one of them, from Donald Trump:
“As I said earlier, I’ve always had a personal thing about cleanliness, but I also believe it’s a very good investment. For example, if you want to sell a car and you spend five dollars to wash and polish it and then apply a little extra elbow grease, suddenly you find you can charge an extra four hundred dollars— and get it. I can always tell a loser when I see someone with a car for sale that is filthy dirty. It’s so easy to make it look better.”
That quote actually really stuck with me - I think I was probably about 14 when I read the book - no, I didn’t know it by heart or anything, I did have to Google for it just now. But it did stick with me. I felt it was a very good point. During my teenage and college years I did actually sell numerous things on eBay, and every time, I remembered that quote, and made sure they were clean and that I took pictures of them that made them look good, and it did help them sell.
Today I am a real estate agent. Although I work primarily representing buyers, I have listed a handful of houses over the past three years. Every time, I made goddamn sure that the houses were as CLEAN as possible; that they were staged (had some attractive furniture and decorations set up - with the exception of one house that was already occupied and the owners had tasteful decorations) - and that the pictures of them were good (I worked as a freelance photographer before real estate, and currently work a second job as a photographer for a classic car dealership, so that part is easy for me.) But it’s not easy for others. I consistently see listings (when I search for homes for my buyers) with pictures that look hideous; dark, poorly composed, cluttered rooms or vacant ones that look dreary with no furniture; just awful in every way. And I’ll keep seeing those listings on the market for months, because they don’t move, because the presentation sucks.
Buyers, or agents looking for houses for their buyers, see large, bright, clear, high-contrast, well-composed photos of a property, and it gets them in the door to see it and potentially buy it.
All of this can be traced back to that initial quote from Donald Trump that I read (not even in a book that was written by him, just a quote.) It’s actually made a pretty substantial impact on my life. At this point, I think about it and it just seems like “common sense”, not something distinctively Trumpian. But if I hadn’t initially read that quote, I guess it’s possible that I could have wound up just not caring about presentation/salesmanship in that way.
But, still, until 2011 when the Birther shit started happening, despite taking that quotation to heart, I still didn’t really know anything about Donald Trump other than that he was a good salesman, lived in New York, and had weird hair. I just didn’t think about him.
I certainly never imagined that he was as obnoxious and generally unlikable as he has turned out to be. But again, I never watched The Apprentice, I knew next to nothing of his public persona.