In addition to his new title of president of the United States, Donald Trump will still be called executive producer as well — of his former reality series, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” when it returns to television on Jan. 2, according to reports.
But the producer credit does not mean the incoming president will be an active participant in the show. As half of the team that created the series and made it a success, it would be far stranger for the president-elect to receive no credit at all.
“Terminator” star Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking over the host seat. Trump will retain a stake in the series, which is also produced by Mark Burnett. Some have raised flags about the potential conflict of interest, since the series is aired by NBC — the same network that houses “Saturday Night Live,” a show Trump has criticized.
It’s also the same network that cut business ties with Trump due to his public statements while running for office in July 2015.
Despite these concerns, Trump’s interest in the show is through production company MGM, which will pay his royalties — not NBC. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed that Trump is retaining the executive producer title for the series, saying, “Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett,” according to a report in Variety.
“The Apprentice” debuted in 2004 and went on to have fourteen seasons, all hosted by Trump. The series went on a two-year hiatus when Trump decided to run for president and is now returning with Schwarzenegger, a public critic of Trump, taking on hosting duties. The newest incarnation of the show, officially titled “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” will include such names as Boy George, Jon Lovitz, and “Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.
Trump’s remaining an executive producer on “Apprentice” may sound odd, but it is not without precedent for a sitting president to be in such a position. Barack Obama published the 2010 book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughter,” while in office and was in a position where he was receiving royalties for the work. The money was donated to a charity working to help disabled veterans and their children.
It remains to be seen what will happen in regard to Trump’s royalties from his show, which Variety reports to be in the low five figures for each episode; but a determination will likely be revealed on Dec. 15 when Trump will have a news conference to discuss his separation plans from his many business interests.