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Donald Trump to Moderate GOP Debate in Iowa (Updated)

Trump and Newsmax are partnering for a debate in Iowa before the caucus

Updated 1:52 p.m.

Donald Trump wants back in the 2012 election circus.

Not as a candidate, but as a debate moderator.

The real estate mogul, reality TV star and hair piece is partnering with conservative magazine Newsmax to moderate a GOP debate in Des Moines, Iowa Dec. 27.

The New York Times first reported the debate, which Newsmax subsequently confirmed.

The company’s CEO Christopher Ruddy told the Times that his readers love the brash, birth-certificate-obsessed tycoon.

If you’ll remember – and how could you forget? – Trump spent the first half of 2011 weighing his own candidacy for the nomination. The centerpiece of his campaign seemed to be a tireless search for the “truth” behind Barack Obama’s origins, producing the uncontroversial birth certificate controversy.

Also read: Donald Trump Accuses Jon Stewart of 'Racist Rant' on Herman Cain (Video)

Trump later said he would not run, but his spokesperson told ABC News Trump would consider running as an independent if none of the GOP candidates impress him enough. That same spokesperson said Trump’s endorsement would decide the election.

Well, the Donald will get his chance to inspect the candidates up close and personal in Iowa, the site of the election’s first caucus. The debate will air just a week before the caucus, making this the last debate for that event.

There are three debates before this one – two on Fox News and one on ABC.

Also read: Donald Trump: The Rise and Flameout of a Presidential Run

Whether people will watch is another story since the debate will air on Ion TV, a smaller cable network. Yet given the ratings the debates have gotten on every platform from CBS to CNBC, one can only imagine that people will find a way to watch.

As the Times report notes, while Trump’s campaign may have seemed like a joke – and his spokesperson’s comments self-serving — this partnership with Newsmax is further evidence that Trump has both popularity and influence with conservatives.

He has met with a series of GOP candidates, like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, and also has a well-documented sit-down with one-time aspirant Sarah Palin.

Trump also gave a rousing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference where he lamented that American had become the “laughingstock of the world.”

So just one question for the man behind “The Apprentice”: Can you fire GOP presidential nominees?