Apparently, the Donald Trump Apprentice TV show participation will not be coming to an end with his presidency. According to Kellyanne Conway – Donald Trump’s campaign manager – Trump will continue to receive a salary from NBC as executive producer on Celebrity Apprentice. As reported by the Associated Press, Conway asserts that the Donald Trump Apprentice job will present no conflict of interest – an assertion many people find difficult to swallow.
Executive Producer Donald Trump
Apprentice – both in its earlier form and its current “celebrity” edition – allowed Donald Trump to go from a moderately well-known building and casino owner to a TV personality representing seeming wealth and a somewhat unsavory version of success. And Trump’s division of people into winners and losers on the show certainly appealed to the bitter/angry demographic of his viewing audience.
Celebrity Apprentice is coming back in 2017 with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the host. However, Donald Trump will still be acting as executive producer on the series. Apparently, this may continue even while Trump serves as president of the United States, a decision many – even in his own transition team – view with concern.
As noted by the Associated Press, for both ethical and legal reasons, virtually all United States presidents have separated themselves from business activities during their presidency. This is usually done through the creation of a blind trust in which they place all of their business interests.
This usually entails the liquidation of their assets so that they can be invested in ways that the new president is unaware of. However, since Donald Trump owns properties, he is apparently concerned about capital gains taxes should he liquidate. In other words, he doesn’t want to do it.
Similarly, he doesn’t want to give up his television activities. According to Kellyanne Conway, Trump continuing to be paid as executive producer on Celebrity Apprentice will not create a conflict of interest. In fact, she suggested to CNN that it’s no different than President Obama playing golf on the weekends.
“I mean, presidents have a right to do things in their spare time or their leisure time… I mean, nobody objects to that.”
It is true that presidents do take time off to do things they enjoy. But on the other hand, Barack Obama didn’t get paid to play golf. It’s safe to assume Trump would get a hefty paycheck from every new episode of Celebrity Apprentice.
The Trump NBC Connection
The Donald Trump Apprentice connection is even more significant because – obviously – NBC is also one of the major news networks that will be covering the future Trump administration. This means that one of the news organizations covering Trump’s activity as president will also be sending him paychecks on a regular basis.
It’s almost inconceivable that if any Democratic president had done anything remotely like this, the Republicans would just let it slide. In fact, many of them would undoubtedly suggest that it was an impeachable offense. And it would be hard to argue with them if they did.
Other Trump Conflicts of Interest
But the Donald Trump Apprentice situation isn’t Trump’s only conflict of interest. For instance, Trump recently had highly questionable contacts with business associates in India, some of whom pointed out the advantages of having business ties to the president of the United States.
Trump also has directly interfered with the business activities of companies here in the United States he has indirect connections with. While Donald Trump doesn’t directly own stock in Carrier, the Wall Street Journal has reported that Trump at one point did have $250,000 invested in Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies.
And any decision to transfer Trump’s business interests to his children hardly seems like a sufficient measure to provide distance between Trump and said interests. Trump has also recently been accused of asking the president of Argentina to expedite paperwork for a Trump building project in Buenos Aires – an accusation the Trump transition team has naturally denied.
While on the campaign trail, Trump touted the catchphrase that he would “drain the swamp” when he came to Washington. But the ongoing Donald Trump Apprentice executive producer salary doesn’t exactly support this idea. Quite the opposite, in fact.
[Featured Image by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images]