Donald Trump returns to the ‘Apprentice’ boardroom

NEW YORK – There is something Donald Trump says he doesn’t know.

Trump has welcomed a reporter to his 26th-floor corner office in Trump Tower to talk about “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.” And here in person, this one-of-a-kind TV star, billionaire businessman, ubiquitous brand mogul and media maestro strikes a softer pose than he has typically practiced in his decades on public display.

Relaxed behind a broad desk whose mirror sheen is mostly hidden by stacks of paper that suggest work is actually done there, Trump is pleasant, even chummy, with a my-time-is-your-time easiness greeting his guest.

He even contradicts his status as a legendary know-it-all with this surprising admission: There’s a corner of the universe he doesn’t understand.

The ratings woes of NBC, which airs his show, are on Trump’s mind at the moment, and as he hastens to voice confidence in the network’s powers-that-be (“They will absolutely get it right”), he marvels at the mysteries of the entertainment world.

“If I buy a great piece of real estate and do the right building, I’m really gonna have a success,” he says. “It may be MORE successful or LESS successful, but you can sort of predict how it’s gonna do. But show business is like trial and error! It’s amazing!”

He loves to recall the iffy prospects for “The Apprentice” when it debuted in January 2004. With show biz, he declares, “You NEVER know what’s gonna happen.”

Except, of course, when you do.

“I do have an instinct,” he confides. “Oftentimes, I’ll see shows go on and I’ll say, ‘That show will never make it,’ and I’m always right. And I understand talent. Does anybody ask me? No. But if they did, I would be doing them a big service. I know what people want.”