Programming

LEFT COAST BIAS: Jim Cramer Joins Apprentice, Vows to 'Mutilate' Fox Biz

CNBC Analyst Heads for Sister Network NBC's Game Show, Takes Shots at Competitor Fox Business Network 10/28/2007 01:35:00 PM Eastern

Jim Cramer

could save The Apprentice. He’s just more interested in crushing

Fox Business Network

.

Jim Cramer

Rumors circulated recently that CNBC’s beloved nut job would be a contestant in the upcoming celebrity edition of the show. But NBC will soon announce a deal for Cramer to join The Donald and daughter Ivanka in the boardroom as a judge for an early episode.

As of now, Cramer’s appearance is just a one-off. That’s a mistake. His bombastic persona as a regular could breathe new life into NBC’s aged franchise.

The Mark Burnett competition is a long way from its days as a massive hit in 2004. It had a nice run, but the franchise had seemingly run its course before NBC put the paddles on.

In fact, had NBC’s primetime schedule been in better shape, Ben Silverman probably wouldn’t have pulled it from the scrap heap and brought in the cliché celebrity edition that will probably launch sometime around January. With a strike looming, it’s a nice asset to have.

Enter the guy who puts the “mad” in Mad Money.

The concept of Mad Money -- a balding guy in his 50s making stock picks -- ain’t exactly riveting. But throw in a frenzied host who screams “Booyah,” sweats profusely and slams things for an hour. Suddenly, you have an informative show and the added excitement of wondering if its host will have a cardiac episode while you’re watching. NBC needs to find other ways to use this guy.

Turns out Cramer doesn’t really have time to do The Apprentice or much else. He is way too busy plotting to murder the upstart Fox Business Network.

“We have a competitor now in Fox and it is really important to destroy and mutilate them,” he says with typical subtlety.

While Cramer says he likes and respects Fox’s Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes -- he worked for Fox in 1999 -- he wants no part of a friendly tussle.

“This is not the NFL where people mingle at the end of a game,” he says. “I’m not collegial. It’s personal.”

To prove his point, Cramer drops the word “turncoat” when referring to Liz Claman, who jumped ship from CNBC to Fox Business this month. I was actually a little scared to ask if he’d ever do the same thing. I’ve heard the stories from his trading days.

Cramer calls himself a “suck-up” to NBC and parent company General Electric. He claims GE shouldn’t spin off the network -- a move many expect could happen after next year’s Olympic Games.

Cramer also has more opinions about Fox Business. He had the new network on when I called him late last week. He says he gets what they are trying to do.

“The babe model has always intrigued me, too,” he says.

Yes, but will it work?

“If you want to lose half a billion, in the end, someone will watch,” he says. “If your orientation is not to make money and you are as stupid as wood, you’ve got your station.”

Being the upstanding journalist I am, I called Fox Business to get their side.

“That’s amazing -- that’s exactly what Jim used to say about CNBC before we fired him,” said a Fox Business spokesperson. “If you’re already unstable, scratching in the ratings apparently makes it worse.”

Cramer is nothing if not a team player. While he’s busy looking for ways to kneecap his new rival, he says he’d happily come running if Trump ever wanted him back on The Apprentice.

“I’d do anything,” he says. “If they wanted me to carry a sign on the set, I’d do it.”

Then he’d probably throw the sign through the window of the Fox Business offices. Booyah!

E-mail comments to ben.grossman@reedbusiness.com

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