Unveiling ‘The Apprentice’: A Cinematic Journey into Donald Trump’s Rise

“The Apprentice: A Cinematic Journey into Donald Trump’s Rise” is a bold and unflinching biopic that delves into the early years of the 45th President of the United States. Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabe Sherman, the film paints a vivid picture of Donald Trump’s ascent in the real estate world of 1970s and 1980s New York. With a focus on his relationships, particularly with the infamous lawyer Roy Cohn, the film offers a unique perspective on Trump’s formative years. Premiering at the Grand Theatre Lumiere in Cannes, the film received an eight-minute standing ovation but also sparked significant controversy and legal threats from Trump himself.

Key Takeaways

  • “The Apprentice” provides a deep dive into Donald Trump’s early years, focusing on his rise in the real estate industry in 1970s and 1980s New York.
  • The film is directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabe Sherman, featuring Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump and Jeremy Strong as Roy Cohn.
  • Premiering at Cannes, the film received an eight-minute standing ovation but also faced legal threats from Trump, who accused it of malicious defamation.
  • The movie emphasizes Trump’s relationship with Roy Cohn, showcasing how Cohn’s influence shaped Trump’s tactics and strategies.
  • “The Apprentice” employs a unique cinematic approach, blending subtlety and shock to offer a fresh perspective on Trump’s rise to power.

The Apprentice: A Deep Dive into Donald Trump’s Early Years

The Apprentice: A Deep Dive into Donald Trump's Early Years

Setting the Scene: New York in the 1970s

New York in the 1970s was a city of contrasts, a melting pot of cultures and ambitions. The city was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, yet it was also a place where dreams were made. Amidst this backdrop, a young Donald Trump began to carve out his path in the real estate world. The hustle and bustle of the city, combined with its gritty charm, set the stage for Trump’s early ventures.

Meeting Roy Cohn: A Turning Point

One of the most pivotal moments in Trump’s early years was his encounter with Roy Cohn. Cohn, a well-known lawyer and fixer, became a mentor to Trump, teaching him the ropes of power and influence. This relationship would shape much of Trump’s future dealings. Sebastian Stan plays Donald Trump, and Jeremy Strong is the evil-eyed Roy Cohn, in a spirited docudrama that never penetrates Trump’s mystery.

The Upper West Side’s Le Club Encounter

In 1973, a 34-year-old Trump walked into the upper-crust establishment on the Upper West Side known as Le Club. He went there in an attempt to impress a young woman but ended up meeting Roy Cohn. This chance encounter would prove to be a turning point in his life, setting him on a path that would eventually lead to the presidency.

The Apprentice drops viewers into New York circa 1973, capturing the essence of a city and a man on the brink of transformation.

Behind the Scenes: The Making of The Apprentice

Ali Abbasi, known for his unique cinematic style, brings a fresh perspective to The Apprentice. His vision was to create a film that not only tells the story of Donald Trump but also delves into the delicate balance between ambition and morality. Abbasi’s approach is both subtle and shocking, ensuring that viewers are constantly engaged and intrigued.

Abbasi’s direction ensures that the film is not just a biopic but a deep dive into the complexities of Trump’s character and the world he navigated.

Gabe Sherman, the mastermind behind the screenplay, crafted a narrative that is both compelling and thought-provoking. His script captures the essence of Trump’s early years, focusing on key moments that shaped his rise to power. Sherman’s writing is sharp, with a keen eye for detail, making the story both relatable and bursting with historical intrigue.

Casting Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump was a bold move, but one that paid off. Stan’s portrayal of Trump is both nuanced and powerful, capturing the essence of the man behind the public persona. The casting process was meticulous, with the team looking for someone who could embody Trump’s charisma and complexity. Stan’s performance is a testament to the careful consideration that went into this crucial decision.

The casting of Stan adds a layer of authenticity to the film, making it a must-watch for anyone interested in the real-life figures behind The Apprentice.

The producers behind The Apprentice include Daniel Bekerman of Scythia Films, Jacob Jarek of Profile Pictures, and Ruth Treacy of Taylored Films. Executive producers are Grant S. Johnson, Sherman, and Amy Baer, in association with Kinematics as the financier.

Cannes Premiere: A Night to Remember

The 2024 Cannes Film Festival witnessed a glamorous gathering of stars, with Jacqueline Fernandez, Naomi Campbell, and Hans Zimmer making a striking appearance. The Grand Theatre Lumiere was buzzing with excitement as the audience eagerly awaited the premiere of The Apprentice. The atmosphere was electric, and the anticipation was palpable.

As the credits rolled, the audience erupted into applause. The film received a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes, a testament to its impact. Critics and attendees alike were quick to share their thoughts, with many praising the film’s bold approach and unique perspective on Donald Trump’s early years.

The night was filled with a mix of admiration and controversy, reflecting the complex nature of the film’s subject.

Despite the positive reception, the film did not escape controversy. Donald Trump, known for his litigious nature, threatened legal action against the filmmakers. This added a layer of intrigue to the already dramatic premiere, as discussions about the film’s portrayal of Trump and its potential legal ramifications dominated conversations.


  • Glamorous gathering of stars: Jacqueline Fernandez, Naomi Campbell, and Hans Zimmer.
  • Standing ovation: A testament to the film’s impact.
  • Legal threats: Donald Trump’s reaction added to the drama.

The Apprentice’s Unique Perspective on Trump

The Apprentice's Unique Perspective on Trump

Subtlety and Shock: A Cinematic Approach

The film masterfully balances subtlety and shock to create a compelling narrative. It doesn’t just focus on Trump’s larger-than-life persona but delves into the nuances of his early years. The shock comes from its subtlety and perspective, offering a unique bent for a film about an ex-President.

Historical Intrigue and Tonal Shifts

For a biopic about Donald Trump, The Apprentice is surprisingly concerned with other things. The film has exactly what you might expect and somehow a curiosity around every corner, a familiar historical intrigue firmly planted in a tonal shock. The historical intrigue is palpable, making the audience feel like they’re uncovering secrets from the past.

Focusing on Relationships Over Politics

Rather than diving deep into political controversies, the film focuses on Trump’s relationships. This approach provides a fresh perspective, showing how his interactions with key figures like Roy Cohn shaped his path. It’s a deep-dive diss of Donald Trump and the American soul, but it does so by highlighting the personal over the political.

The film’s unique perspective makes it more than just a biopic; it’s a cinematic journey into the complexities of Trump’s early years.

Critical Reception and Public Response

Cannes Reviews and Critiques

Another day, another lackluster reception to a highly anticipated Cannes title. Ali Abbasi’s Donald Trump film, The Apprentice, seems neither thrilling nor especially deep, with various comparisons to Wikipedia entries throughout naysayer’s reviews. At least, its cast got general praise, with highest honors to Jeremy Strong as Roy Cohn. Then again, it did receive one of the festival’s longest standing ovations yet, so make of that what you will.

Audience Reactions

The film, playing in the official Competition three years after Baker’s success in Cannes with the Simon Rex-starring Red Rocket, scored a 10-minute ovation earlier this week. It was one of a number of critically praised films this edition. Check out all our reviews below.

Political Implications and Discussions

To both earn his domineering father’s approval and carve out his own identity in the cutthroat world of corporate media. His portrayal has earned him widespread acclaim.

The Real-Life Figures Behind The Apprentice

The Real-Life Figures Behind The Apprentice

Roy Cohn was a pivotal figure in Donald Trump’s early career. Known for his ruthless tactics and powerful connections, Cohn became Trump’s mentor and legal advisor. Their relationship began in the 1970s and had a lasting impact on Trump’s business strategies and public persona.

Cohn’s influence on Trump cannot be overstated; he was the man behind the curtain, pulling the strings and shaping the future mogul’s approach to business and life.

Ivana Trump, a former fashion model, was Donald Trump’s first wife. They met in the late 1970s and quickly became one of New York’s most glamorous couples. Ivana played a significant role in Trump’s business ventures, particularly in the development of the Trump Tower and other high-profile projects.

  • Ivana was not just a wife but a business partner, contributing to the riches of Jason Newsted in 2024: a symphony of success and creativity. Jason Newsted’s journey reflects talent, tenacity, and a $66 million net worth.
  • Their marriage, however, was not without its controversies, including allegations of infidelity and a highly publicized divorce.

Donald Trump, the central figure of ‘The Apprentice,’ is portrayed as an ambitious and often controversial real estate mogul. The film delves into his early years, showcasing his relentless drive to succeed and his willingness to bend the rules to achieve his goals.

For 20 years, I couldn’t say what I watched the former president do on the set of the show that changed everything. Now I can. By Bill Pruitt. May 30, 2024 5:35 PM.


In the end, The Apprentice is more than just a biopic about Donald Trump’s early years; it’s a deep dive into the making of a controversial figure who has left an indelible mark on American history. Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabe Sherman, the film doesn’t shy away from the complexities and contradictions that define Trump. From its standing ovations at Cannes to the heated debates it has sparked, The Apprentice is a cinematic journey that challenges viewers to reconsider what they know about one of the most polarizing figures of our time. Whether you love him or hate him, this film offers a nuanced perspective that is both thought-provoking and timely.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ‘The Apprentice’ about?

‘The Apprentice’ is a biopic that chronicles the early years of Donald Trump’s rise to prominence in the real estate industry. Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabe Sherman, the film focuses on Trump’s relationship with lawyer Roy Cohn and his early attempts to make a name for himself in New York during the 1970s.

Who directed ‘The Apprentice’?

The film was directed by acclaimed Iranian-Danish filmmaker Ali Abbasi.

Who wrote the screenplay for ‘The Apprentice’?

The screenplay for ‘The Apprentice’ was written by Gabe Sherman.

Who stars as Donald Trump in ‘The Apprentice’?

Sebastian Stan stars as Donald Trump in the film.

How was ‘The Apprentice’ received at Cannes?

‘The Apprentice’ received an 8-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere, although it also faced legal threats and controversies from Donald Trump.

What makes ‘The Apprentice’ unique among biopics about Donald Trump?

‘The Apprentice’ is noted for its subtlety and unique perspective, focusing on historical intrigue and relationships rather than just politics. It provides a deep dive into Trump’s early years and the influential figures around him.

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