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Steuart Martens experiences reality-stardom's diminishing luster

By The Reliable Source

Steuart Martens, 2010. (Dominic Bracco II/FTWP)

Pity the seventh-generation reality star: Steuart Martens, a lifelong Washingtonian, is on a total hot streak in the final weeks of NBC's "The Apprentice" right now -- and you probably didn't have a clue, did you?

Compare to the guy who won the first season of Donald Trump's reality competition before 28 million viewers in 2004: Bill Rancic now has his own reality show. Heck, the contestant fired midway through that same season spun off into perpetual fame as one-name-only Omarosa. Just as the first "Bachelorette" will be on magazine covers the rest of her life, the gal who didn't win the second "Survivor" now co-hosts "The View."

Now Martens, 27, is on "The Apprentice," showing off his business acumen by, you know, bathing small dogs and posing for shirt ads -- the classic reality TV gauntlet -- except that these days only about 4 million people are watching anymore. Is it really worth the hassle?

Martens isn't complaining; in fact, he refuted our thesis that the show is buzz-less these days.

"I have a hard time walking down the street without being recognized," he told us, on the phone from New York last week. "On the street someone will say, 'nice job' -- I think they're talking about the marathon, and they say, 'no, nice job last week on the show.'‚ÄČ" (We should mention: Martens had just run the NYC marathon, in three hours, 12 minutes.)

The unique spelling may ring a bell with Beltway old-timers. He's a scion of the Steuart and Martens families, which loomed large around here for much of the past century with their insurance, petroleum and auto-sales concerns. Martens -- a Walt Whitman grad and swimming champ at Purdue -- went on to start his own companies, including a wine distributorship, a fleet of food carts and a Taste of D.C. festival. Er, how're those going? After all, this season's "Apprentice" picked its candidates with an "economic downturn" theme. They're still afloat, he told us.

"I did shut down two companies this past year -- that was my story to get on the show," he said. "Certainly it was a tough year. Very few businesses can say they weren't affected by the economy." Could they survive losing their boss, though -- if, say, Martens goes on to win "The Apprentice" and a year-long job with Trump? Sure, he said casually. "I've got a great business partner."

By The Reliable Source  | November 17, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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There are a good amount of people who don't pay for cable, but instead download cable television shows from torrent websites. I'm sure some of the people who recognize Steuart on the street aren't part of the 4 million watching him on television.

I imagine you could also stream video of The Apprentice on NBC's website?

Posted by: steampunk | November 17, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

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