Ivanka Trump Makes Donald Even Scarier

Ivanka and Donald Trump

Ivanka Trump achieved her status as the best reality television character the genre has ever produced on her father’s NBC program Celebrity Apprentice. This was an arena in which the likes of Tom Green, Dennis Rodman, Andrew “Dice” Clay, and other reanimated wax figures from the Museum of Déjà Vu would vie to create a winning entry for the Schwan Food Company’s LiveSmart frozen food line or the catchiest jingle for Chicken of the Sea, and where Melissa Rivers might be spotted screaming “Whore pit vipers!” at her fellow female contestants. And there would be Ivanka, as grave, groomed, and expertly briefed as a dignitary at a disaster site, checking in on how a team’s dog food commercial was coming along or gently arbitrating a screaming match between Lisa Lampanelli and Lou Ferrigno or smiling gamely as a shirtsleeved Piers Morgan tried to flirt with her. No matter how grisly the post-celebrity carnage at her feet, Ivanka radiated warmth and star wattage—but her charisma was a protective force field, not a beckoning flame. She evinced a holographic ability to be in her surroundings but not of them, fully possessed of her poise and glamour even when forced to dress down Gene Simmons, her throaty boarding-school voice and diction in service of a gleaming mental apparatus that never misfired. Imagine watching old WrestleMania footage and suddenly realizing that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s corner man was Jacqueline Kennedy. That’s kind of what it was like to watch Ivanka on Celebrity Apprentice.

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Jessica Winter

Jessica Winter @ Adrian Kinloch

Jessica Winter is executive editor of newyorker.com and a former editor at Slate and Time. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Bookforum, The Believer, and many other publications. She lives with her family in Flatbush, Brooklyn.