Donald Trump and Elmer Gantry

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Shefali O'Hara
4 min readMay 29


Trump and Homer Simpson —

Elmer Gantry was a fictional, narcissistic cult leader created by Sinclair Lewis. Donald Trump is a real life narcissistic cult leader whose on-screen persona is largely fictional. He has been portrayed in many works of actual fiction, such as his cameo appearance in Home Alone.

The most bizarre of these? An episode of The Simpsons that aired in the year 2000. It shows Trump being elected President.

However, until The Apprentice, he was known as just another limousine liberal whose name often appeared on Page Six of the New York Post and who, with his wife at the time, Ivana, often showed up at exclusive soirees.

He had no real political convictions — he went with what was convenient. While claiming to be a Republican as a young man, he switched party affiliation several times, donating more to Democrats and inviting the Clintons to his wedding when he married Melania.

He had an unsavory reputation prior to The Apprentice. There was gossip that he’d paid former lovers to have abortions, though no proof was every produced. His active sex life, which included adultery, was easier to find evidence for. So were his shady business dealings and multiple bankruptcies.

Mark Burnett, the producer of Survivor, was responsible for recreating his image. He was cast on The Apprentice as the largest real estate developer in New York City. He was portrayed with a private jet, lavish hotels, and his own line of products. Viewers assumed the fantasy was reality and that Trump was a fabulously wealthy real estate mogul whose business instincts were unerring.

According to Jonathon Braun, the show’s editor, “it was like making the court jester the king.” Bill Pruitt, one of the show’s producers, reminisced about taking what he described as a “crumbling empire” and making it seem like it was thriving.

Trump was a narcissist, he had a natural ability to manipulate people, and he also had high natural charisma. Even before he ran for office, he’d established a cult following among the gullible. Many had shelled out thousands to Trump University, for example.

When he entered the 2016 Presidential race, he used these characteristics to create…



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.