On Tuesday, a few hours after billionaire Michael Bloomberg announced that he would promote his 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign with a $10 million, 60-second ad during the Super Bowl, President Donald Trump's campaign said they would be doing the same thing. But back in 2007, both men were involved in a different kind of wiener measuring contest, when then-New York City Mayor Bloomberg visited The Apprentice to crown the winner of the show's charity hot dog competition with a few casually sexist remarks.
During Bloomberg's mayoralty, the pair had a relationship based on "symbiotic exploitation," former Trump aide (and Apprentice contestant) Omarosa Manigault Newman told the Washington Post last year (Bloomberg's team denied this). Trump supported Bloomberg's controversial third term, Bloomberg cut the ribbon at Trump's taxpayer-subsidized golf course in the Bronx.
This clip of Bloomberg's second appearance on Trump's show, which was resurfaced by the Bernie Sanders-endorsing CPD Action group, is cartoonishly bizarre and chillingly prescient. Seen today, it's the President of the United States glad-handing his billionaire opponent. Both of them are saying things they don't really mean, to draw your attention.
“This is our great mayor,” Trump tells the women's hot dog selling team, who are decked out in blue jeans, white T-shirts, and red hats with white block lettering (an "all American" theme, Manigault Newman explains in the full episode, which is available to watch for free here).
“As the number one frankophile in the city, I’m supposed to see if you can cut the mustard,” Bloomberg tells the women, using a penchant for hot dog puns he would carry through to his last hot dog-related appearance as mayor in 2012, a year after Trump began telling cable news hosts that Barack Obama had forged his birth certificate. “I can’t tell whether these are better or worse than the one the men are selling until I have a hot dog with the men," Bloomberg said. "But I can tell you without seeing the men, you look better." There are cheers.
Now we come to the men's team, which includes Vincent "Big Pussy" Pastore, Stephen Baldwin, and yes, Gene Simmons.
"Meet Donald Trump everybody! Meet the mayor of New York, Mayor Bloomberg!" Piers Morgan yells into a megaphone, with a menace that conjures up a dystopian commons, a reckoning in the streets. (The CPD clip only includes Bloomberg's appearances, which are unedited. You can watch more of Piers screaming at female bystanders in the full episode, but why would you.)
“The question is, is this the best hot dog? Or is the best hot dog sold by all those gorgeous women at the last stand?" Bloomberg tells the men before taking a bite.
(Asked if Bloomberg regrets objectifying these women in front of millions of viewers on Trump's TV show, Bloomberg campaign spokesperson Julie Wood gave us the same statement she gave BuzzFeed last month when they covered the clip, including the same lame pun: "When Mike was Mayor, he appeared on many television shows that were made in New York City, because the television industry creates good-paying, union jobs. He also relished the fact that part of being Mayor of New York is eating a lot of hot dogs in public.")
"Very good," Bloomberg says, after taking a bite.
"And I'll bet you'll never reveal the answer," Trump interjects.
"OHHHHHHHH!" Baldwin idiotically brays. The camera cuts to a grinning Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump, before cutting back to Baldwin. "And that's why you're the mayor of New York!"
And why Trump is president.