http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/TV/0....ap/index.html

Wednesday, February 22, 2006; Posted: 8:36 a.m. EST (13:36 GMT)

Trump: Stewart's show 'a mistake for everybody'

NEW YORK (AP) -- The bleat goes on in the rekindled Donald Trump-Martha Stewart battle.

The two pop-culture icons spent much of Tuesday in a back and forth tempest over "The Apprentice."

First, the domestic diva took aim in an article in the current Newsweek; then The Donald blasted back in a letter to Martha delivered Tuesday; late Tuesday a stunned Stewart returned fire, and then later Tuesday Trump shot again in a TV interview.

In his biting letter, Trump wrote that Stewart's version of "The Apprentice" was "a mistake for everybody -- especially NBC."

The real-estate mogul was responding to Stewart's sniping to Newsweek that "Martha Stewart: The Apprentice" floundered last fall -- canceled after one cycle -- because Trump would not take his competing show off the schedule.

Her show was supposed to be the only "Apprentice" and was meant to start out with her firing Trump on the air, she told Newsweek, reiterating comments she'd made before.

"Having two 'Apprentices' was as unfair to him as it was unfair to me," she told Newsweek. "But Donald really wanted to stay on."

Trump's blunt response asks Stewart to take responsibility for her "failed show."

"Your performance was terrible in that the show lacked mood, temperament and just about everything a show needs for success," he wrote. "I knew it would fail as soon as I first saw it -- and your low ratings bore me out."

Ouch.

"Between your daughter, with her one-word statements, your letter writing and, most importantly, your totally unconvincing demeanor, it never had a chance -- much as your daytime show is not exactly setting records," he wrote.

Then he really told her what he thought.

"Essentially, you made this firing up just as you made up your sell order of ImClone," said Trump, who claimed NBC did not intend to fire him on Stewart's show.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Stewart, who lost an appeal last month that ended her criminal case for lying about a stock sale that sent her to jail for five months and nearly six months of house arrest, said she was bewildered by Trump's comments and tone.

"The letter is so mean-spirited and reckless that I almost can't believe my longtime friend Donald Trump wrote it," she stated.

"I am very proud of the work we did with Mark Burnett Productions and Mr. Trump, who was an executive producer, on 'The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.' Many young entrepreneurs learned so much from the show and enjoyed it. Many families sat their children down weekly to watch it. We are even more pleased with our excellent daytime show 'Martha' -- syndicated by NBC Universal -- which has just been nominated for six daytime Emmys (including best show and best host), was touted by The New York Times as one of the best shows on television, and has been embraced by our wonderful audience throughout the country."

Trump fired back on CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch," saying repeatedly that he is upset because he was "her number one advocate...and what does she do? She blames me for her show's failure."

As for the tone of his missive, he said, "Of course the letter was mean-spirited, but I think what she did was mean-spirited."

Asked about Stewart's comments that Trump was to be fired from "The Apprentice," Burnett, also appearing on "Big Idea," said, "Lots of ideas are bounced around, and Martha had lots of ideas. My job is to sit and listen to them, but, really, why would NBC ever do that?"

Stewart could not be reached -- later yet, Tuesday -- for comment.