The following is a blog from RVing Examiner’s Julian Gothard offering commentary on Camping World President and CEO Marcus Lemonis’ decision to pull sponsorship from reality show “Celebrity Apprentice” following published photos of host Donald Trump’s sons posing with African game they had shot. To read the entire story click here. RVBUSINESS.com has also received several comments since posting a related story on March 15. To view that article and review comments click here.
Hunters are threatening to boycott Camping World’s 75 nationwide locations after company Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis ruled out future sponsorship of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice TV show. Lemonis who heads up the Good Sam Club (a season 12 sponsor of Celebrity Apprentice) as well as Camping World (a season 11 sponsor) was displeased by photos which pictured brothers Eric and Donald Trump Jr. – judges on the Donald Trump reality show – with their wild animal trophies on a big game hunting safari in Zimbabwe.
In a statement posted last week on the company Facebook page Camping World sought to clarify their position. “Camping World…believes in personal freedom. In this country, people are free to choose. This issue at hand is not about whether people should be able to hunt or not. Our company is neither for nor against hunting. We are for personal choice and having people enjoy the outdoors in whatever fashion they choose. However, if and when the hunting of endangered species occurs, whether in the United States or abroad, it is not acceptable to even the most avid of hunters. We remain strong in our conviction of preserving the outdoors, protecting our great country’s lands and the freedom to choose.”
Comments from the company’s Facebook followers seem almost evenly divided between those who support Camping World and those who believe in an individual’s right to hunt. The real bone of contention seems to be what constitutes an endangered species so the RVing Examiner turned to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species for guidance.
The IUCN also notes that “some community-based conservation programs in which revenue from the sport hunting of elephants reverts directly to local communities have proved effective in increasing tolerance to elephants, and thus indirectly in reducing levels of human-elephant conflict.” This statement tends to support safari organizer Hunting Legends’ contention that they play a crucial role in supporting the local economy. Indeed, however distasteful big game hunting may at first appear to be to an outside observer the most prudent course of action would be to reserve judgement until one has been fully apprised of the facts.
While the Trump brothers may be guilty of a serious PR faux pas they don’t deserve to be vilified for their chosen pastime. Similarly, Marcus Lemonis as CEO of Good Sam and Camping World made a decision that he thought was in the best interests of both companies, as is his right. Of course, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation it’s likely that NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” will be the real winner.