'Apprentice' Cruise Steaming Ahead

They're like two ships passing in the Trumpian night.

Actually, they are ships. One is the Carnival Legend, sailing from New York on a cruise to the Caribbean this fall, with The Apprentice as its theme. The other is the Norwegian Dawn, whose owner is the focus of a lawsuit filed by a Miami lawyer last month. Two-dozen plaintiffs want to find out if Norwegian Cruise Line was so anxious for the ship to return to New York in time for a product-placement date with The Apprentice in April that the ship's captain ignored the threat of a violent storm—which produced a rogue 70-foot wave that slammed into the vessel, breaking windows, flooding cabins and slightly injuring four passengers.

Presumably Carnival's “The Apprentice Legend Cruise” in late September will be less eventful, but that's not to say the deck chairs won't be rattling when Apprentice fans get caught up in the delirium of actually being out to sea with more than a dozen former contestants, including the first season's last-gal-standing, Amy Henry, and Season Two's prince of style, Raj Bhakta. (Forecasts indicate that the cruise will not encounter Hurricane Omarosa.) No doubt fans will be hard-pressed to choose the most delectable of the many Apprentice-themed events over the course of the nine-day cruise, but we're betting on the “Grand Finale Event: Trump World Magazine's Masquerade Formal.” Per-person prices for the nine-day trip range from $699 for the sort of inside cabin that would make Donald Trump sneer, to $2,449 for a suite.

The Norwegian Cruise Line faces a rather stiffer price tag for its cruise: $100 million. That's what attorney Brett Rivkind is seeking for his clients' damages, including emotional trauma, in what he hopes will become a class-action suit that covers all of the Norwegian Dawn's 2,000 passengers. It's not clear if the lawsuit ever would have set sail upon the seas of justice if it weren't for a report in the New York Post soon after news of the giant wave made headlines. Knitting together information from Trump and “a source close to the show,” the Post posited that the ship was being rushed to New York, rather than being taken out of harm's way, in order to appear in The Apprentice in a “seven-figure” product-placement deal. Norwegian Cruise Line denies any wrongdoing in the matter.

The FTC's Lost Rule

Here's an outlaw gang that doesn't exactly strike fear in hearts of peaceable citizens: Sony, RCA, Best Buy, Circuit City… and just about any other TV manufacturer or retailer that has done business in the U.S. in the past four decades.

The misbehavior recently came to light only after the Federal Trade Commission, during a routine every-10-years review of its guidelines, looked into what is known as the “picture tube rule.”

The rule, which has been on the books since 1966, dictates how TV sets are advertised, and requires that the size of sets listed in ads, store displays and packaging be based on the screen's horizontal measurement. The FTC's intent was to ensure consumers had consistent specifications for comparing models. And they do—but the problem is that, for as long as anyone in the business can remember, sets have been consistently sold according to their diagonal measurement. So a 36-inch spec represents the distance between a lower corner and the upper corner on the opposite side. It also represents a more impressive-sounding sales tool: The horizontal measure on a standard-sized TV would be 28.8 inches.

The matter “is not something we've paid a whole lot of attention to,” says Julie Kearney, regulatory counsel for the Consumer Electronics Association. The CEA is asking the FTC to rewrite the rule and require diagonal measurements instead.

The association helpfully noted that both the FCC and the U.S. Trade Representative rely on diagonal measurements in rules governing technical specs and imports of television sets.

Reality Check

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