The Donald and the dealer’s son

A dealer connection hits reality TV tonight when a new season of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” debuts. One of the contestants is Steuart Martens from a longtime Washington, D.C., area dealer family.

The family still operates Martens Volvo-Volkswagen. It got its start in 1904 when L.P. Steuart and his brother started selling coal and ice from a mule cart. They opened a Ford dealership in 1916.

Steuart Martens, 27, apparently inherited the entrepreneurial spirit. He has operated several businesses in the D.C. area, including Tradewinds Specialty Imports, a wine-distribution company.

The twist on this season of “The Apprentice” is giving a second chance to candidates who have been battered by the recession. Martens had to close two of his companies, according to his bio on NBC’s Web site.

Contestants compete in an array of business tasks, with one eliminated each week. An NBC promo video shows Martens selling ice cream, washing a dog and doing push-ups in a candy-striped vest. “I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” he says in the video.

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