"Let's make Trevor Slattery the REAL Mandarin!" There was something like that in the Marvel Transformer series from 1984. http://transformers.wikia.com/wiki/Donny_Finkleberg
A podcast review of IM3 said that Aldrich should have added a line like "I based the Mandarin on an old Cold War ghost story" or "There are legends the Mandarin existed, but I think they just read too many Sax Rohmer novels." Leaving things open enough that there might be a real Mandarin.
Keep in mind, for the most part, it looks like Aldrich is using Trevor's videocasts as cover every time an Extremis solider blows up. He SAYS he wants to control both sides, but anything about actually running the Ten Rings is VERY vague.