When Disney's (NYSE:DIS) ABC announced plans for Mark Cuban's reality series, The Benefactor looked as though it was simply trying to cash in on the success of Donald Trump's The Apprentice on General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC. Well, it seems as though being rich and doling out a beefy prize isn't enough to ride Trump's coattails, as ABC will be canceling the show by month's end.

Don't cry for Cuban. He's got his Mavericks, his maverick attitude, and his billionaire status -- the latter acquired when he sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) just before the dot-com bubble got sudsy and started stinging eyes.

And you really shouldn't cry for Disney either, because the reason it is calling off the show -- quite simply -- is because it can. Disney's performance in reality television has produced a mixed bag. While shows such as The Bachelor and Extreme Makeover have fared well, you have some pitiful losers in there such as Am I Hot? and I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

But now that Disney appears to be shaking the ratings cellar disease this season on the strength of popular new shows such as Desperate Housewives and Lost, it has every reason to pull the plug early on what just isn't working.

With ABC bouncing back so strongly on Sundays and Wednesdays, the last thing it needed was a weak show sharing Monday Night Football's spotlight -- which meant that it was preempted in some local markets for additional sports coverage or has been running after the unpredictable lengths of the weekly football contests out on the West Coast. In other words, Cuban and the show never really had much of a fighting chance.

So does this mercy killing make Disney the ultimate benefactor? For a company whose network has spent the last few years looking for a lifeline before this season's early success, it can finally afford to be cruel by smoking a Cuban.

Putting out the fire at ABC doesn't mean that the coast is clear for Disney. It will still lose Pixar (NASDAQ:PIXR) and quite possibly the Miramax minds of Bob and Harvey Weinstein by the end of next year. But question marks are what ultimately drive the entertainment industry to keep you on the edge of your seat until the next cliffhanger.

And the next time Cuban wants to give away some prize money, there's always Foolanthropy.

Were you watching Mark Cuban's show, and will it matter whether the show is being truncated? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been watching more of ABC lately -- but Cuban's show was preempted in his Miami market. He owns shares in Disney and Pixar.