Donald Trump’s TV Show Failed to Make an American Car Brand Great Again
The Pontiac Solstice represents General Motors’ last-ditch effort to revive its floundering Pontiac brand. To promote the sports car, GM partnered with NBC to feature the Solstice on The Apprentice during the 2005 season. Unfortunately, the car’s appearance on Donald Trump’s reality TV show couldn’t save Pontiac or keep the little two-seater on the market.
What did GM expect to get out of putting the Pontiac Solstice on ‘The Apprentice’?
The Apprentice was a popular NBC reality show hosted by Donald Trump. Young professionals competed for a chance to be Trump’s apprentice and join his companies. The then-new Pontiac Solstice starred in the last several episodes in 2005.
The show’s six competitors, divided into two teams, were charged with developing a promotional brochure for the car. This stylish Pontiac roadster was aimed at young professionals.
However, the show wasn’t enough to save the car or Pontiac from its eventual demise. Tasking this tiny car with bolstering the brand was a big ask — Pontiac sales were down more than 17% when the Solstice rolled onto the set of The Apprentice, the UPI reported.
What did the Solstice offer?
The Pontiac Solstice was a two-seater with a convertible or targa-style roof. It rode on GM’s new Kappa platform. Pontiac produced the Solstice for five years, beginning with the 2006 model year and ending with the 2010 version.
Although this sporty and fun car could have been a contender, it never reached the sales success of the Mazda Miata. GM built only 65,000 units of this Pontiac sports car. That was nearly twice as many as its less familiar corporate twin, the Saturn Sky.
The Pontiac Solstice base model had slightly less power than the Saturn Sky, but the souped-up Solstice GXP harnessed 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It could zoom from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds with the manual transmission.
Why did GM kill Pontiac?
The global economic crisis of 2008 caused GM to file for bankruptcy and require a government bailout. As a result of the auto giant’s Chapter 11 reorganization, GM killed its Hummer, Saturn, and Pontiac brands. That meant the end of the Solstice and Sky. Pontiac finally shuttered in 2010, over eight decades after opening.
Only five years later, NBC abruptly ended its business relationship Donald Trump. It had nothing to do with General Motors, though.
Trump’s larger-than-life personality and celebrity status had likely earned him a long leash with the network. However, in June 2015, NBC cut ties with the real-estate magnate during his time on The Celebrity Apprentice. Reportedly, Trump had made demeaning comments about Mexican immigrants, leading the network to cancel the airing of the show and the Miss USA pageant.
“Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBC Universal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump. At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” a statement from the network read.