A few days ago, new Celebrity Apprentice boss and executive producer Arnold Schwarzenegger was front and center at a press conference to hype the shows Jan. 2 premiere date.
Executive producer Mark Burnett was allegedly on site, but didn’t appear with the cast members, or on the red carpet following the half-hour Q&A session, which took place a day after news broke that President-elect Donald Trump would retain an executive producer credit on the new season, in addition to earning royalties from the show.
When questions about Trump inevitably came up, the answers were short and well-rehearsed, as Schwarzenegger acknowledged that he knew about Trump’s producing credit from the start, pointing out that he also continued to make royalties from his previous projects while in office as Governor of California.
“I knew there was a credit when you watched the show. His credit was on there. Its no different then when I was running for Governor and my credit was starring in Terminator and everything stayed the same. I think this is a contract he had,” he said, reminding reporters that he is also an executive producer on the show.
On Monday, Trump postponed a previously planned press conference in which he was expected to address his business dealings and the potential conflicts of interest they might cause including his involvement with Celebrity Apprentice. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The Wrap that “the announcement has been rescheduled for next month.”
“I dont think hes going to be hosting with me. Maybe we have him as a guest adviser, if he has time. I dont think he has time,” Schwarzenegger joked when asked about potential conflicts caused by Trump’s producing credit. “For me, the important thing is, a little bit selfish answer, Im an EP too and thats what Im happy about because when youre an EP, you have decision-making power over the whole thing.”
Admitting he has “big shoes to fill” on the show, Schwarzenegger said he’s hoping that all of the publicity for the new season will ensure that “my ratings are bigger than his dont tell him that.
Schwarzenegger said he did speak to Trump when he got the hosting gig, and that he called the president-elect to congratulate him after his win (despite Schwarzenegger’s well-publicized decision not to vote for the Republican candidate).
Schwarzenegger, a Republican himself, said he was prepared to give Trump the benefit of the doubt when the president-elect takes office: “When it comes to picking his cabinet, I think we have to give him a chance,” he said. “We cannot judge anything after one month. Let us watch him go and get started before we go and start judging his moves.”
Was Trump involved with the new version of the show during production? Schwarzenegger said, Not with me. He may have been involved with Mark Burnett or with NBC but I dont know about that. But not with me.
Schwarzenegger was joined onstage by advisers Tyra Banks and his nephew Patrick Knapp Schwarzenegger, and celebrity contestants Porsha Williams, Laila Ali, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Kyle Richards, Ricky Williams, Matt Iseman, Jon Lovitz, Brooke Burke-Charvet, and Carrie Keagan.
Asked to comment about his allegedly gruff management style on the show, Schwarzenegger said with a laugh, “Good! I want them to be intimidated by me at all times. In fact, I wanted everyone hooked up to a heart monitor at all times because I want to see their heart rate when they walk into the boardroom and I look at them slowly. That was the idea, to be intimidating.”
The New Celebrity Apprentice premieres Jan. 2 on NBC.