"A schoolboy's dream... a competitor's challenge. Donald J. Trump is the very definition of the American success story, continually setting the standards of excellence...." It's times like this that I wonder whether the TV-addled American public doesn't deserve every fleecing it gets at the hands of the world's biggest snake-oil peddlers.

Last year, more than 20 million Americans tuned in every week to witness this charade. So let the hype begin. As you can tell from that creepy, self-serving quotation from The Donald's online bio, The Apprentice is back for another season. Thursday, General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC will once again show us what happens when a gaggle of starstruck, attention-craving flagellants sign up for some supercilious, scripted abuse from America's favorite celebrity businessman. This season, the network's No. 1 show will gather us around the tube to marvel at... at what? The contestants' spooky-straight teeth? The Donald's gravity-defying comb-over? The hard-hitting world of lemonade stands?

There's one thing I'm sure viewers will not see, and that's The Donald's record as the leader of a publicly traded firm. After all, it would blow a pretty big hole in the show's main conceit. Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (OTC BB: DJTC) destroyed millions in shareholder value before finally pushing up daisies last month. But people who are more impressed by gilt initials than actual earnings will watch him anyway.

And that's all that matters. This show, of course, isn't about business. It's about the American dream. No, not that old-fashioned dream where a person succeeds through smarts and hard work and builds a business like Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B), Bill Gates' Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Michael Dell's Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), or Steve Jobs' Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Pixar (NASDAQ:PIXR).

No, The Apprentice is about the other American dream: shiny cars and big boats and enormous homes with glossy wood, plenty of sparkly bling for the Eastern European supermodel hanging on your arm, and -- best of all -- doing the bare minimum to obtain it.

Put up with a few days' humiliation to get a few hundred thou? Heck yeah! Do your job, live below your means, save, and invest Foolishly to retire a millionaire? Boring.

Listen, I know we all need our diversions. Go ahead and enjoy The Apprentice. Just realize that Trump is to business and investing as Anna Nicole Smith is to glamour and grace. All that is shiny and bloated is not rich, nor worthy of emulation.

Seth Jayson thinks Trump is still a chump. At the time of publication, he had no position in any company mentioned. View his Fool profile here.