The Apprentice (2024 film)


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The Apprentice
Directed byAli Abbasi
Written byGabriel Sherman
Produced byDaniel Bekerman
Jacob Jarek
Julianne Forde
Ruth Treacy
Louis Tisné
StarringSebastian StanJeremy StrongMaria BakalovaMartin DonovanCharlie CarrickMark RendallJoe Pingue
CinematographyKasper Tuxen
Edited byOlivier Bugge Coutté
Olivia Neergaard-Holm
Scythia FilmsProfile PicturesTailored FilmsKinematicsHead Gear FilmsMetrol Technology
Distributed byMongrel Media (Canada)[1]
Nordisk Film (Denmark)[2]
StudioCanal (Ireland)[3]
Release dateMay 20, 2024 (Cannes)
Running time120 minutes
United States[4]

The Apprentice is a 2024 biographical historical drama film directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabriel Sherman. Starring Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump, the film examines Trump’s career as a real estate businessman in New York in the 1970s and 80s. The film also stars Jeremy StrongMaria Bakalova, and Martin Donovan.

The film had its world premiere at the 77th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2024.


Set during the early years of Trump’s business career, the film focuses on the relationship of Trump and Roy Cohn, a New York City prosecutor known for working with Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Second Red Scare. The “mentor-protégé narrative … documents the start of an American dynasty” and discusses Trump’s use of “power, corruption and deception.”[5] Trump’s “decency [is] eroded as he learns the dark arts of dealmaking and tastes power”.[6]



The film was first announced in May 2018, with Gabriel Sherman slated to write the screenplay.[7] In October 2023, Ali Abbasi was confirmed to be joining the film as director and, as initially reported, co-writer.[8] However, it was later confirmed that Sherman would be the film’s sole writer. The film began principal photography in November 2023, where Stan, Strong, and Bakalova were announced as the lead roles.[5][9] Filming wrapped on January 28, 2024.[10][failed verification] In February 2024, it was announced that Martin Donovan had joined the cast portraying Fred Trump.[11]


The film was submitted at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, held from May 14 to 25, 2024.[12] It was included in competition for the Palme d’Or in April 2024, alongside 18 other films.[13] The Apprentice premiered on May 20, 2024, at the festival.[14] Prior to this, StudioCanal acquired UK and Irish distribution rights to the film.[15]


Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 76% of reviews from 33 critics have been positive, with an average rating of 6.7 out of 10.[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100 based on 18 critic reviews, indicating “generally favorable” reviews.[17] David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter praised Sebastian Stan and Jeremy Strong’s performances in the film with Stan “going beyond impersonation to capture the essence of the man”.[18] Beyond the portrayal of Trump and Cohn, Rooney writes that the film examines the rise of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ thinking in American life from the cynicism of the Nixon years to the rise of corporate greed during the Reagan presidency in the 1980s.[18]


AwardDate of ceremonyCategoryRecipient(s)ResultRef.
Cannes Film FestivalMay 25, 2024Palme d’OrAli AbbasiNominated[19]

Legal issues

Steven Cheung, the communications director of Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, threatened legal action against the film due to its depiction of a rape scene involving Ivana and Donald Trump[20][21][22] that was based on divorce records. In a deposition relating to their divorce, Ivana accused Donald of rape and of pulling out her hair by the handful when his plastic surgery to alter his hairline failed.[23] After the Trump campaign called the film “garbage” and “pure fiction” in a lengthy statement, director Abbasi offered to screen the film for Trump.[24] He also said that realistic movies need to be produced about the threat of fascism.[25]

Billionaire Dan Snyder, formerly the owner of the Washington Commanders NFL team, donated money to the production of The Apprentice with the impression that the film would be a positive portrayal of Trump. Snyder is a close friend of Trump who donated $1.1 million to his inaugural committee and Trump Victory Committee in 2016 and $100,000 to his 2020 presidential campaign. After seeing a cut of the film in February 2024, Snyder was said to be furious, and lawyers for the Kinematics production company sought to fight the release of the film.[26]

In May 2024, Trump’s legal team sent a cease & desist letter to the filmmakers.[27]


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