One of Donald Trump’s greatest assets when he was running for the presidency was his gift for providing plot twists worthy of an experienced television entertainer. This was a gift that was consistently misunderstood and undervalued by his opponents in America and commentators in the US and beyond (me included). He had presented 14 series of The Apprentice and if its ratings had fallen away sharply in that time, the series one finale in 2004 did garner 28.1m viewers.

Let’s face it, in large part the dismissal of that achievement came down to media snobbery, and incomprehension that any viewer could take such a narcissistic person seriously. Surely it would be obvious to everyone that the gap between his blowhard claims of business brilliance and the reality off-screen is wide? Wouldn’t enough voters put him in a category marked TV entertainment and look instead for someone qualified with a grasp of the proper issues? Er… no.

This all ignored that Trump had, for a large minority of Americans, come to embody something vital, aspirational, energetic and quintessentially American. He got stuff wrong and could be downright vulgar and rude in his TV performances, but he talked to opponents like he talked to failed contestants on his shows. There was “little Marco” (Rubio) and “lyin’ Ted” (Cruz). This crude behaviour was at odds with the media’s idea of how candidates should behave, but many voters had had their fill of the old conventions and of the bossy and pompous news media too.

Fuse that group of fans of the Apprentice together with enough dedicated Republicans and Hillary-haters, and add in the most inept political campaign in US history – the Clinton campaign – and you have the formula for the narrowest, weirdest of wins. Trump in November produced a made for TV classic, mingling drama, pathos, comedy, tragedy, sudden plot twists and a big reveal that had the audience gasping.

All that being the case, and Trump being a TV entertainer at heart, it should come as no surprise that as he approaches the first 100 days landmark he is tearing up the script, marginalising producers and in fear of a flop rethinking the format to get better numbers.

Why? After the success of the “pilot” in the primaries and the general election, the first series of President Trump has been a humiliating disaster in public relations terms. His “muslim ban” on immigration was a shambles and his discovery that healthcare is complicated and difficult to reform was excruciating to watch. His approval ratings are below 40%. His administration is haunted by investigations into the sinister ties between Team Trump and Russia, before they started acting in recent weeks like they’re opponents. Double bluff, anyone?

It is also almost funny the way in which Trump can have his mind changed by five minutes of simple explanation. This is just what happened when the Chinese explained to him that they are not, they say, currency manipulators after all. The China North Korea relationship is complicated too, they explained to him. Oh, really? That’s fascinating, he responded. Y’know, I never knew that, said Trump, putting on his “I am thinking” face. Position changed. And what about obsolete old NATO? The vital alliance he scorned endlessly. It’s now great, so great. For a clever (cunning) man with such force of personality he appears astonishingly unschooled, ill-informed and sometimes downright stupid.

But Trump does know about TV ratings (even if he does exaggerate them brazenly) and about creating drama. This is what he thinks about when he gets up in the morning. He is the lead actor and tinpot Svengali in his own production. His appalled ghostwriter, along with former colleagues and brighter opponents, warned the American voters and the rest of us that he would do anything to avoid looking too bad on TV.

Series 2 of President Trump was unveiled a few weeks ago, and it makes for mesmerising if at times terrifying viewing. Out, into the departure lounge, goes the populist anti-moonbat Breitbartian Steve Bannon, one of the economic nationalist architects of the Trump victory. In comes the hallowed Ivanka, the daughter who can do no wrong, with an ever greater role for her husband Jared.

At their urging, Trump has moved in under a month from being a populist isolationist to becoming downright horny for intervention. The individual moves are driven by Mattis at defence and Tillerson at State and they may make sense (we’ll see, or we won’t other than for a few seconds if they go really badly wrong.) But Trump himself has flip flopped in a shameless fashion with no regard for his voters. His supposed drain the swamp administration is morphing into a standard, globalist outfit. There’s a chance he’ll even be at Davos next year.

The problem with this pivot and fundamental rewrite by Trump is so obvious that I feel daft saying it. Life is not a crap TV series, or it should not be. TV formats are not real life. They borrow elements of real life, and speed it up, or create cliffhangers and false binary choices for the purpose of entertainment, and sometimes enlightenment, but usually entertainment.

What is happening in relation to North Korea and Syria is deadly serious, and while American re-engagement is a positive development after the Obama years of drift and indecision, there is no getting away from how troubling it is that a TV narcissist such as Trump is commander in chief. Of course, Mattis and the rest are highly capable people who can guide and shape policy. But in an emergency or during an attack one person chooses. The President. That’s President Trump.

You’ll love the ending he’s got planned…