New “Celebrity Apprentice” host Arnold Schwarzenegger defends President-elect Donald Trump remaining as an executive producer on the popular NBC show.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 9, 2016) (REUTERS) – President-elect Donald Trump will remain an executive producer on the reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice,” new host Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Friday (December 9), defending the situation as similar to his own transitions between politics and entertainment.
Trump, who famously barked the catch phrase “You’re fired!” as he dismissed competitors on the “Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” programs, stepped down from the show last year when he entered the Republican presidential race.
“Celebrity Apprentice” returns to the air with Schwarzenegger, star of the “Terminator” films and former two-term California governor, as host on Jan. 2, 18 days before Trump is sworn in as president.
“Well I think I knew that from the beginning that he is executive producer on the show. That was on the credit when you watched the show and I would say I watched 60 percent of all the shows before I took on this challenge and so his credit was on there,” Schwarzenegger told reporters on Friday.
“It’s no different than when I was running for governor and I became governor. My credit for starring in ‘Terminator’ still said Schwarzenegger and everything stayed the same and I continued getting my royalties and all that stuff. So I think this is a contract that he had, it was great that he was part of it,” he added.
Variety, which first reported Trump’s decision to remain as executive producer, said his name would air in the credits before that of Schwarzenegger. The show is broadcast by NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp.
Variety said he was likely to be due a payment in the low five-figures per episode.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway did not confirm that Trump would retain the executive producer credit and said she did not know whether he would accept potential payments for the program.
“Presidents have a right to do things in their spare time or their leisure time,” she told CNN. “Nobody objects to that.”
Debuting in 2004, “The Apprentice” and its spinoff, “Celebrity Apprentice,” were ratings hits and boosted Trump’s popularity after he suffered a financial downturn in the 1990s.
“I have to say to all of you that it was big shoes to fill,” Schwarzenegger said of taking over the part made famous by Trump.