NBC Reality Chief Credits Donald Trump Climb to 'Apprentice' Exposure

Chyna Photography for HRTS
HRTS’ "State of the Industry: Non-Scripted" panel

"Master television production created a phenomenal television personality," Paul Telegdy says of the former network star.

NBC may have been quick to sever ties with Donald Trump when he announced his bid for the U.S. presidency — but, just over a year later, the presumptive GOP candidate's subsequent rise does not seem to come as a shock to one executive.

Paul Telegdy, NBC president of alternative and late night programming, was pushed about the former Apprentice host and executive producer during a Tuesday panel for the Hollywood Radio and Television Society at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. And while his comments may have been brief, they were clear. "Of course not," said Telegdy, when asked if he felt Trump could have locked up a majority of the Republican primary votes without having appeared on TV for so many years. "On Celebrity Apprentice and The Apprentice before it, master television production created a phenomenal television personality."

Referring to the current scenario as "very, very peculiar," Telegdy was quick to note that while many of the people on his team are intrigued by the current scenario, they are not shocked: "[It's] no surprise to anyone who's worked closely with him."

Telegdy also said that he doesn't think that candidate Trump is any different that the one who spent over a decade with the Apprentice franchise. "His persona seems to have been in lockstep with his persona on the show," said Telegdy.

Trump was not the only former reality giant to come up during the panel, which also featured Warner Bros.' Mike Darnell and FremantleMedia North America's Trish Kinane. The latter, involved with American Idol's entire run between the two of them, talked about the Fox show's recent conclusion and the likelihood of future iterations.

"When you have a ship that big ... once it starts going down, there is no stopping it," said Darnell. "I thought it was still good, but it didn't matter. I think it was less people not liking it, but every year another group would catch up to the fact that it wasn't what it was five years ago. ... There's something to Fox letting it go out with dignity. Nothing lasts forever."

Forever might be a stretch, but American Idol probably is not gone for good — as Kinane, a former executive producer of the show, said in so many words.

"There were still 12 million viewers who would regularly tune in — those are not numbers to scoff at," she said. "Idol is finished for the moment, but who knows? That sort of classic format, there'll always be there in some form or another."

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