Created by reality TV super producer Mark Burnett, NBC’s The Apprentice began life as a reality competition series in 2004, and featured ambitious contestants competing to earn the chance to run one of the many companies owned by host Donald Trump. While real estate magnate Trump was already a very well-known figure in pop culture by that time, The Apprentice served to make him a true household name, thanks in large part to the series’ memorable boardroom meetings that saw losing contestants get told “You’re fired.”
The Apprentice would eventually morph from a series offering aspiring corporate executives a shot at glory into The Celebrity Apprentice, which featured various celebrities competing for charity. In total, both versions of The Apprentice ran for a combined 14 seasons, last airing in 2015. With host Trump eventually opting to run for president, NBC initially decided not to pick up a 15th season, before ultimately bringing legendary action star – and former California governor – Arnold Schwarzenegger on to host the newly revamped New Celebrity Apprentice.
Alas, the Arnold era of The Celebrity Apprentice will be a short one, as the former “Governator” tells Empire Magazine that this time, he won’t be back. While Schwarzenegger has nothing but praise to offer the cast and crew of New Celebrity Apprentice, he feels that the series comes with too much baggage, especially considering that the now incredibly divisive President Trump is still attached as an executive producer. Here’s his full comment on the matter:
“I loved every second of working with NBC and Mark Burnett. Everyone – from the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department – was a straight 10, and I would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn’t have this baggage. Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline. With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or as a sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period now and I think this show got caught up in all that division.”
Of course, there was already reason to suspect that NBC would cancel The New Celebrity Apprentice, as Arnold’s debut season failed to recapture the ratings earned by Trump’s tenure as host. Whether or not one believes that Arnold is right to blame this decrease on the show’s relationship to Trump the politician, Trump did indeed bring public attention to the ratings issues via a social media argument with his successor a couple months back, and it’s hard to imagine that helping viewer perceptions of the series as a failing enterprise.
While NBC could very well opt to bring back The Celebrity Apprentice with yet another new host, one wonders if it would really be worth it at this juncture. Perhaps it would be advisable for NBC and Burnett to put the brand on ice for awhile, in the hopes that its former face will one day cease being such a lightning rod for controversy.