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Donald Trump Is Losing His Touch. So Is the TV Producer Who Shaped His Image.

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Did you catch Steve Harvey’s “Funderdome” on ABC? How about “The World’s Best” on CBS, “The Contender” on Epix, or “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge” on Amazon Prime? Or the Christian-themed dramas “A.D. The Bible Continues” on NBC and “Messiah” on Netflix?

No? Well, you’re hardly alone. And the man behind the string of flops is Mark Burnett, the legendary TV producer who shaped Donald Trump’s image from “The Apprentice” through his 2016 inauguration. Like his greatest creation, Mr. Trump — who sought and then lost an idiotic television ratings war on Thursday night with Joe Biden — Mr. Burnett seems to be struggling to keep his grip on the cultural moment.

Mr. Burnett’s story has been told often, and until 2016 he was eager to help tell it — how he reshaped American television with “Survivor” in 2000 and how, with the 2004 start of “The Apprentice,” he “resurrected Donald Trump as an icon of American success,” as The New Yorker put it. He’s been in Mr. Trump’s ear ever since: He held a planning meeting for the 2016 inauguration in his Ritz-Carlton apartment, the event’s planner, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, wrote. His associates produced the Republican National Convention this summer, Michael Grynbaum and Annie Karni reported for The New York Times. When President Trump took the presidential helicopter from the hospital to the White House this month, panicked Twitter commentators compared an official video of his triumphal return to the work of the Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. But Mr. Burnett was the artiste whose influence really shined through on the video, though a spokeswoman said he did not consult on it.

“The level of production coming out of the White House is something we would have appreciated having,” Bill Pruitt, a producer on the “The Apprentice,” said of the video’s specific camera angles and its particular obsession with helicopters, a longtime favorite prop of Mr. Burnett’s dating back to “Survivor.” “As is customary for this, the reality TV version of a presidential campaign, it seems they’re not striving as much for ‘four more years’ as they are ‘Season 2.’”

But that style may have fallen out of fashion. Mr. Burnett, 60, the defining TV impresario, salesman and deal maker of the aughts, hasn’t put his stamp on a bona fide hit since the debut of “The Voice” in 2011. He shaped reality TV’s bombastic, gimmicky and sometimes cruel early years. But the genre has matured and shifted in the streaming age to what are sometimes sweeter and more positive productions, like Netflix’s “Floor Is Lava” and “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”

And Mr. Burnett, until 2016 one of the most prominent figures in Hollywood, has gone dark. His Trumpian gift for telling his own story — about his triumphant reinvention of a once-great studio, MGM, and his plan to bring Jesus Christ to entertainment — has foundered on the reality of corporate infighting, creative struggles and a religious streaming network that never got off the ground.

“The impact that he was going to have on the film and Christian community has kind of gone bust,” said Peter Bart, who was a top executive at MGM before a long run as editor in chief of the trade newspaper Variety. “If that’s your main mission and your legacy is Trump and maybe the failure of the next MGM — that’s not a good chapter in his life.”

The current chapter of Mr. Burnett’s career began in earnest when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the once-great studio that had recently emerged from bankruptcy, bought out Mr. Burnett’s production company in 2015 for $120 million, consummating an earlier $400 million deal. That put him in charge of the studio’s television division. MGM got his stake in long-running shows like “The Voice” and “Shark Tank,” and the promise of more of his magic. MGM’s chief executive, Gary Barber, blessed the acquisition in high corporate gobbledygook: “We believe this synergistic transaction will be very accretive,” he said in a statement.

But with Mr. Burnett inside, Mr. Barber now had a charismatic rival for the affection of the chairman of the company’s board, Kevin Ulrich. One source of tension between Mr. Burnett and his new boss, two former executives said, was the enthusiasm of Mr. Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, for faith-based programing. The couple are outspoken Christians, and in 2013 they had produced “The Bible” for the History Channel, with Ms. Downey cast as the Virgin Mary. They then founded Lightworkers Media, which MGM now controls, and had hopes that MGM would turn it into a powerhouse.

But MGM never invested enough in Lightworkers to turn it into more than some scattered programming and a little-watched television channel, Light TV, showing family-friendly reruns. MGM’s biggest bet through Lightworkers, the $100 million 2016 film “Ben Hur,” lost money. Repeated promises of a high-powered streaming service never materialized.

Mr. Burnett’s relationship with Mr. Trump has also shadowed his run at MGM. He had long been part of a kind of media industry kitchen cabinet for the developer, along with CNN’s chief, Jeff Zucker, who had put “The Apprentice” on NBC, and the talent agent Ari Emmanuel. He and Ms. Downey had typically supported Democrats (Ms. Downey wrote a check to Marianne Williamson’s 2014 California congressional campaign), and he said in 2016 that he wasn’t actually supporting his friend’s White House bid.

But although Mr. Burnett promised associates that his friendship with the president would be great for business, he was also intensely sensitive to criticism of his old friend. He objected in particular, two people present at the time said, when an MGM board member, Jason Hirschhorn, began sharply criticizing Mr. Trump in his newsletter, REDEF in 2016. Katie Martin Kelley, MGM’s spokeswoman, said Mr. Hirschhorn’s “public statements at the time caused friction for many people at MGM,” and Mr. Hirschhorn, who left the board in 2017, declined to comment.

Since the 2016 election, Mr. Burnett has gone to great lengths to keep a public distance from Mr. Trump, batting away suggestions that he helped with the Republican National Convention. “They are not in communication and he had no involvement with any of the president’s public activities around his hospitalization for Covid-19,” Ms. Kelley said in an email.

Mr. Trump is just one thread in the internal tension at MGM involving Mr. Burnett. He’s always been a difficult boss, and even before the pandemic, he was a man-about-town deal maker — not an office-bound manager. He’s had so little input in the successes of the company’s scripted division, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Fargo,” that the division’s leader, Steve Stark, was recently forced to clarify to The Hollywood Reporter that he still reports to Mr. Burnett. He played a role in the messy 2018 ouster of Mr. Barber, which has left the company operating without a chief executive. Now, MGM is subject to perennial acquisition rumors and dependent on factors it can’t control: It is hoping theaters will be packed for the release of a new James Bond film next year and that the culture will be ready for the return of “Live PD,” a Burnett acquisition that was canceled this summer amid the wave of revolt at police violence.

After Mr. Barber’s ouster, Mr. Burnett announced that he and Ms. Downey would raise $100 million to start a Lightworkers subscription service. But those plans, Ms. Kelley said, have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, though “conversations have and are expected to continue.” For now, Lightworkers is just producing content for MGM, and recently completed production on a feature film called “Resurrection.” It also scaled back its digital presence in July, taking much of its content off the internet, including articles by Charlotte Pence Bond, the daughter of Vice President Mike Pence. (One had the headline, “Are You Narcissistic? Let’s Find Out.”)

Mr. Burnett didn’t respond to interview requests directly or through an MGM spokeswoman. After years in the headlines, he is keeping his profile low, and his name didn’t even appear in a recent, gloomy Wall Street Journal assessment of MGM’s finances. Some of his old partners, like Les Moonves at CBS and Paul Telegdy at NBC, have been forced out of their positions, and a new generation of network executives doesn’t jump quite so quickly at his calls. But if he’s not quite the producing star he once was, he’s still closing deals. In 2018, Amazon Prime resurrected a show called “Eco-Challenge,” which Mr. Burnett started producing in the 1990s, though Amazon has dropped plans for a second season, MGM confirmed. When I asked MGM’s chief communications officer, Ms. Kelley, about the perception that Mr. Burnett had lost his creative touch, she responded with a litany of his long-running shows.

“In his capacity as an executive producer, he has produced more than 70 seasons of shows for ABC (‘Shark Tank,’ 12 seasons), CBS (‘Survivor’ 40 seasons), Fox (‘Beat Shazam,’ 4 seasons), NBC (‘The Voice,’ 19 seasons), and the most recently launched ‘World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge’ on Amazon Prime,” she said. “Combined, programs where he serves as an EP have generated 18 Emmy wins, and 150 nominations. Burnett’s TV division is consistently amongst the most profitable divisions of MGM.”

But the last great question for Mr. Burnett, of course, is Trump TV. Journalists often imagine that Mr. Trump will start a 24/7 news channel to the right of Fox News should he lose the presidency. But the best move of Mr. Trump’s career, tax returns obtained by The Times showed, was in reality, not news — his partnership with Mr. Burnett in “The Apprentice.” My colleague James Poniewozik wrote once that Mr. Trump’s problem is that “now there’s no Mark Burnett to impose retroactive logic on the chaos.”

People who have worked with Mr. Burnett say they can’t help imagining that he’s working all the angles on the final, realest reality show of all, following a former president back into the real world.

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Money is love too: 5 lessons from immigrants to manage your wallet

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October 24, 2020 5 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Adina Chelminsky’s grandfather left Poland when he was just 13 years old and unable to speak a single word of Spanish. However, when he arrived at the port of Minatitlán in Veracruz, he had no money, but he began to work tirelessly until he managed to open a tlapalería that, believe it or not, continues to operate in Corregidora in Mexico City.

“The most important thing I know about finances I learned from my immigrant grandparents who came to Mexico with nothing,” said Chelminsky in her participation in MoneyFest 2020 . “My grandfather was a true entrepreneur because he knew that entrepreneurship was 50% sweat and not just having a ‘millionaire’ idea”.

Adina Chelminsky is not only an accomplished economist and entrepreneur, she is also the author of the popular finance book Cabrona y Millonaria . However, despite his academic training, he points out that the best lessons he has had on money management always come from immigrants ”.

“People like my grandparents who came to Mexico in search of opportunities understand better than anyone how to handle money in a crisis, because they know how to face adversity and prosper in a world they understand,” said the expert.

Image: Money Fest 2020

5 love lessons told with money

Adina’s two paternal grandparents, both immigrants, taught her five basic universal financial principles. “They not only left me with an unpronounceable last name [he says laughing], but also strategies that can be applied always and by everyone.”

1. There is no asset more valuable than education: Whether for one or the children, education is one of the smartest investments that can be made because it is a portable instrument that does not lose returns over time.

“When I was born, my grandfather opened an account for me to pay for a master’s degree. No BA, a MASTER’S DEGREE . This so that there would be no doubt about what I could achieve ”.

2. “Whoever has a store to attend to it”: And in the same way, whoever has savings and investments, keep an eye on them.

“My other grandfather was the smartest person to make investments because he was always informed. It taught me never to go into a business that I didn’t understand or to sign a contract that I hadn’t read.

3. Don’t screw your kids and plan your retirement: “My grandparents came to Mexico and they knew they wanted to die in it. At that time there were no Afores or retirement plans, but month after month they saved for that moment, even if it was at the cost of a luxury ”.

Adina pointed out that her grandparents always knew that they did not want to be a burden for their children when the time came and on the contrary, they always made an effort to have a dignified old age.

4. Finances are ALWAYS a family affair and especially a couple: Sometimes talking about money with your partner can unleash a pitched battle, but it is about being a team.

“There wasn’t a time when my grandmothers didn’t have a say in financial discussions because they ran the house. In those times, my grandparents had the last word, but they always decided between all of us ”, Adina recalls and points out that especially in times of crisis, her grandparents were precisely a COUPLE , partners.

“Today there is a lot of financial infidelity, individual debts, hidden problems and half truths. It makes me think that my grandparents were ahead of their time ”.

5. There is nothing more patriotic than building well-being for others: Adina’s grandparents lived committed to Mexico and providing jobs was always one of their most active priorities.

“As an immigrant you want to help the country that made you its own. There is nothing more patriotic than building well-being for others ”.

It doesn’t matter where we come from, Adina noted, whether from immigrants, born savers, born profligates, or parents who simply did what they could with what they had. “Learning from the past and the financial history that shaped us is essential to build your future.

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Learn to read the news to earn money

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It seems that the economy is going crazy, but as an entrepreneur you must be aware of what is happening in the world. Journalist Isabella Cota tells us how to understand those numbers and trends that we see every day.

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October 24, 2020 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

“Where were you when you realized that the pandemic was going to change your life?”

For Isabella Cota , a journalist specializing in macroeconomic issues, that moment of cold drop came when she was attending a wedding at the end of February and a friend involved in the health industry told her that at some point in the year the stock markets were going to collapse, large amounts of infections would occur and that, if the government did not act soon, a health crisis like no other would occur.

Just a few days later, the National Healthy Distance Day would begin, which practically stopped the country’s non-essential economic activity.

Perhaps the force of the spread of COVID-19 took many by surprise, but Cota asserts that “many people who were used to reading the news saw the pandemic coming and were able to take protective measures even before the authorities.”

For the journalist, information is the best tool that people can access for free to make critical decisions for their health and finances.

“If you want to invest your money well, you have to understand money and for that, you have to read news about economy, finance and yes, science,” said the expert in her participation in the virtual MoneyFest festival.

However, in Mexico we have a stigma with numbers and it is the job of the media to explain to the reader how economic news affects their daily life.

“If the medium does not land that information, it is the MEDIA that is failing the public, not the other way around.”

Image: MoneyFest 2020

How to read the news to help you earn more money

Isabella Cota gives us a three-point checklist to consume financial news to make better decisions.

1. “Cure your fright” with curiosity: You have to ask yourself questions, but don’t panic. “If there is something that the pandemic has given us all, it is fear. Fear of getting infected, losing a job, saying goodbye to a loved one, etc. ”, says Cota. “We must approach the information without fear and not let ourselves be carried away by alarmist news.”

Given this, it is drastic to remember that the headlines do not report and you have to look for different sources.

2. Google is your friend: “The media are like great libraries of stories,” says Isabella. “Before making any financial decision, you have to ask Google what the media says about a brand or investment opportunity that they advertise, what information the bank can ask you by law, what are your rights before collectors, etc.”

3. You don’t have to believe everything: One of the most unfortunate effects of the pandemic has been the spread of false information that is sold as news and is not. “A study says that there are already 800 people in the world who die because of the fake news about the coronavirus.”

So how can we identify real news?

Isabella offers this “accordion” to quickly identify credible information:

  • When the notes or links come without a real or reputable source, do not open them .
  • If the information comes from a medium that you don’t recognize, don’t read it .
  • Finally, if what the article says does not seem true or reasonable, do not share it .

“The media fails, but they also offer fascinating stories. These stories are important and they teach us something. The information that is consumed with calm, curiosity and an open mind, is the best tool for our money ”, concludes Cota.

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The world has already changed: How to design a new professional and personal reality

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Silvia Singer, general director of the Interactive Museum of Economics, gives us the keys to transform ourselves into this new normal that, like it or not, is here to stay.

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October 24, 2020 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

“The world stopped and I feel so bad that I don’t want to talk to anyone. It’s a feeling that we’ve all had in the last few months, ”said Silvia Singer , in her talk at Money Fest , Mexico’s interactive personal finance festival. “However, if there is a crisis, I am sure there must be an opportunity.”

With this phrase, general director of the Interactive Museum of Economics (MIDE) , told us that this is the time to make a change to face the new normal.

“Every museum is due to its public, but what happens when people cannot go?” This was the challenge that MIDE faced in March when Sana Distancia measures began to stop the spread of COVID-19 .

“We had to acknowledge that there was a crisis that was going to last, we needed to make changes and restart,” Singer explained when presenting how MIDE had to transform its strategy to focus on the digital public. “Now the museum is beyond Tacuba 17 in Mexico City; now it is for anyone inside and outside of Mexico who understands Spanish ”.

The MIDE has already opened its doors, but this digital strategy allowed them to transform.

In this regard, Silvia gave us the strategy to replicate the success of the MIDE in our businesses.

Image: MoneyFest 2020

How can we design a new professional and personal reality?

Pablo Picasso used to say that when the muse of inspiration visits you, she has to find you working.

“Entrepreneurship is a creative and at the same time critical act. There are no magic formulas to transform and there are many paths. Which is the best? Yours ”, indicated the general director of MIDE.
To generate your own strategy, according to the expert, it is required:

Being able to observe the environment: “First of all, you have to see the opportunities that are outside, understand what is happening and identify what things or situations require a different solution that works better in this new normal.”

Understand that change is constant: “It sounds obvious, but you have to remain agile and have an open mind to innovate.”

How I reinvent myself

Silvia Singer pointed out that you have to learn to think with a certain structure in order to transform yourself. A simple model that you can follow in your person and your business is:

1. Think about something that you have dreamed and imagined, but with some alternatives on how to achieve it: “I need a clear objective, to know where I want to go and what alternatives I have.”
2. Write down these alternatives honestly in a notebook with the advantages and disadvantages of each one: “Find realistic dreams with goals within reach and agree to be flexible in the method to achieve them.”

3. Be informed to be able to choose an alternative and take the step: “In order to be successful, you must be yourself, but reflect on what you can improve.”
4. Commit to what you have chosen and move on: “We all have huge desires, but our resources are limited. So you have to make a decision and commit to it ”.

In the end, the MIDE director gave great advice for all entrepreneurs who are looking to transform themselves: “You don’t have to suffer the process, you have to enjoy it. I’m sure that in the end everything will be fine ”.

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