Celebrity Apprentice is coming back on January 2 (after a two-year break), and when it does, President-elect Donald Trump will retain his executive producer credit on the NBC reality TV show. The long-awaited new season of the show that made Donald Trump a household name (along with the catchphrase “You’re fired!”) is going to come complete with a new host; Arnold Schwarzenegger will fill the role vacated by Trump and will also reportedly be listed as an executive producer of the program.
What the absolute hell?!— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) December 9, 2016
⚡️ “Donald Trump to remain Executive Producer on Celebrity Apprentice”https://t.co/QpcczniQLc
As Variety reports, Celebrity Apprentice sans Donald Trump (at least in front of the camera) will come complete with a new official title, The New Celebrity Apprentice. The show is slated for an eight-episode run, and the president-elect’s name is reportedly going to follow that of Mark Burnett (who created the series) in the credits. New host and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name will reportedly trail the other two men’s.
MGM (the Celebrity Apprentice production company) has reportedly confirmed that Donald Trump will keep his executive producer status on the popular show, which is now going on its 15th season. What MGM has not confirmed is precisely how much money Trump will be raking in for lending his name to the upcoming season of Apprentice. MGM will be cutting the checks to the President-elect, and some are calling the situation another potential conflict of interest for Donald Trump as he assumes his new role as POTUS.
While the amount of Trump’s executive producer salary hasn’t been disclosed, speculation is rampant that it will run in the low five-figures for each individual episode. On top of that, Donald Trump is also what’s known as a “profit participant” with regard to Apprentice. This arrangement means that he makes money on the series that has been sold (in franchise form) to markets across the globe.
MGM and NBC have both refused to comment on the potential Celebrity Apprentice financial arrangement that has been inked with Donald Trump. Trump’s camp has also yet to speak out publicly about the situation, or to answer questions posed by the media.
Donald Trump hasn’t appeared on an episode of the reality TV show he helped build since February 2015. That was when the former reality TV star opted to focus his energies on his political aspirations.
Despite no longer appearing on Celebrity Apprentice (which has been on hiatus throughout the Donald Trump campaign), Trump has been embroiled in drama with NBC, which has been the show’s network since its 2004 premiere. Comments made by Donald Trump in July 2015 (regarding Mexican immigrants being largely rapists and criminals) caused NBC to sever business ties with the man who would become president-elect.
@kurteichenwald Now he's just having fun giving us the finger. I wonder if, next, he'll experiment with shooting someone on 5th Ave.— janegray (@ms_sharims) December 9, 2016
@CNN The next season of The Apprentice will be in the WH w/ contestants answering to President Trump & him firing cabinet members.— Len Buysers (@EL_BEE) December 8, 2016
@mitchellreports President is just a 'side job' for Trump. An adjunct to make his other businesses more profitable. Trumpies, you are so had— J. Lang Wood (@woodjl68) December 8, 2016
@Variety Trump can be the EP of a game show but he can't be bothered to attend intelligence briefings...— Jason Elias (@Zebop) December 8, 2016
Donald Trump found his time on Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice under proverbial microscope to a large degree earlier this year. That was when it was alleged that the then-Republican presidential candidate had behaved inappropriately during the production of the show. During that same time period, a now-infamous conversation between Trump and Billy Bush was made public. It was recorded during a taping of Access Hollywood, and it featured Trump callously bragging about his ability to grab attractive women “by the p***y” because he’s rich and famous.
Billy Bush lost his job over the hot-mic tape, and Apprentice producer Mark Burnett was pressured to make outtakes of Donald Trump’s alleged crude behavior publicly available. Burnett and MGM refused, citing contractual obligations. However, despite refusing to throw Donald Trump under the bus with never-before-seen Apprentice outtakes, the Celebrity Apprentice creator disavowed Donald Trump and his politics in October.
“[I disavow] the hatred, division and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign.”
Even so, Burnett reportedly met with President-elect Trump earlier this week and is even rumored to be involved with Trump’s inauguration plans.
Predictably, not everyone is applauding Donald Trump’s decision to remain on the Celebrity Apprentice payroll, and some are questioning the legality of the situation, alleging that it creates a conflict of interest.
What do you think? Do you believe that it’s appropriate for a sitting POTUS to collect a paycheck from a production studio for a current TV show? Do you think Trump could be further muddying the waters of his presidency with this decision? Would it have been more appropriate for Donald Trump to decline an executive producer nod on the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice?
[Featured Image by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP Images]