Levi’s Takes an Apprentice

In its ongoing effort to stop its seven-year sales slide, Levi Strauss & Co. has hired and fired top-level executives, rolled out two major spinoffs of its iconic 501 blue jeans style and sought the advice of top-name, top-dollar consulting firms.

Now the San Francisco-based company is turning to a team of Donald Trump emulators.

Contestants on this year’s edition of the NBC reality show “The Apprentice,” who are fighting for a job with the real estate mogul, will face a lineup of tasks working on major American brands. Among them is a marketing assignment at Levi’s, the company and NBC confirmed. The episode with that task is to air in November.

A Levi’s spokeswoman declined to provide other details, citing a “super-tight confidentiality agreement.” She dismissed the idea that consultants from Alvarez & Marsal — hired by Levi’s as advisers in December — would be in competition with contestants from the show.

“One is an overall LS&Co. issue,” she said. “The other is the Levi’s brand. They are two very separate entities.”

In its fiscal year ended in November, Levi’s reported sales of $4.15 billion, off 1.3 percent from the prior year and down considerably from the firm’s 1997 peak of $7.1 billion. Through the first two quarters of this year, the firm has posted revenue growth, though executives warned in July that they expected the third quarter to be a tougher comparison.

Since one of the most popular parlor games in the jeans business is what-I-would-do-if-I-ran-Levi’s, executives said the appearance of the brand as a task on a reality show is likely to prompt a lot of eye-rolling among the denim set.

Overall, though, observers said outside of the insular jeans community, an appearance of the Levi’s name on a popular TV show will likely be a boon for the brand. The task given to the contestants is not expected to be a major corporate revamp, but a smaller marketing project related to the Levis’ brand, according to a source with knowledge of the project.

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