From Apprentice to Nominee, Preparing for the RNC’s Trump Show

By Chris Ariens 

With less than two weeks until the Republican National Convention, crews are ahead of schedule preparing Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena for up to 50,000 visitors — including 15,000 members of the media — who will take part. The RNC has brought on a former NBC News producer to oversee the TV production. This is Phil Alongi‘s second time at the RNC rodeo, having overseen the production of the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa. In a Q&A in Adweek, we talked to Alongi to find out what’s different this time around. And it’s not just the nominee:

How’s it been working with the Trump campaign? He had criticized the shape of the stage, saying it “didn’t have the drama.”
They’ve all been fine. I’ve done a lot of political events and worked with a lot of campaigns, and there’s always a lot of give and take. And of course, we all understand what they’re trying to achieve. But I’ve had no real issues that I need to complain about with them. So far, it’s all gone well.

How are you preparing for any drama that should ensue on the floor?
One of the reasons why they hired me in 2012 was because this is a news event, and they wanted to take a harder edge and a news approach. So I’m going to approach this the same way I would as if I was in the control room at NBC. We’ll cover what’s going on. Transparency is very important, and if events warrant, you’ll see it on camera. It’s a different world. It’s not like stuff can happen and people aren’t going to see it. Everyone pretty much here is a quote-unquote photojournalist. All you have to do is hold your phone up and next thing you know, you’re putting it up on Snapchat, or you’re putting it up on Google, or you’re putting it on Facebook. So it makes no sense to say, “We’re going to turn the camera around.” So I’ve not been told to do anything different. We’ll be directing our cameras to follow action wherever it takes place.

Because you worked at NBC, where Trump made his name in entertainment with The Apprentice, have you ever worked with him?
I actually had a very minor role in The Apprentice finale many years ago—Season 1. We did it in the SNL studio, and the executive producer for the live broadcast asked if I would go up to the control room and work with him since I knew the building. So it was a very minor role.