NBC has tapped Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace Donald Trump as host of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Schwarzenegger is a natural choice for the “CEO” role in the reality-competition franchise that challenges celebrities to prove themselves as entrepreneurs as they raise money for charitable causes. In addition to his credentials as an action-movie star, Schwarzenegger is a two-term former governor of California and has long had a range of business holdings, from restaurants to real estate development to sports franchises.
“I have always been a huge fan of ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ and the way it showcases the challenges and triumphs of business and teamwork,” Schwarzenegger said. “I am thrilled to bring my experience to the boardroom and to continue to raise millions for charity. Let’s get started!”
In fact, it will be more than a year before Schwarzenegger makes his debut on the show. NBC said “Celebrity Apprentice,” exec produced by Mark Burnett, will return to the air sometime in the 2016-17 season.
The host switch comes after Trump bowed out of the show that originated as “The Apprentice” in 2004 because of his decision to run for the GOP nomination for president. That meant he could no longer have a regular hosting gig on NBC’s air, otherwise the network have to make comparable opportunities available to other candidates under the FCC’s equal time rule. At present Trump has a commanding lead in the polls among the large field of Republican contenders.
“After leaving the show to run for political office, Donald made it clear that he wanted ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ to be able to continue to raise millions of dollars annually for worthy causes, and now NBC and I have found an amazing new leader to do just that,” said Burnett. “Gov. Schwarzenegger will use his vast and highly successful business, political and media experience to drive this hit franchise to new heights.”
Schwarzenegger’s move into the TV gig comes after he’s had mixed results in reviving his film career following his tenure in Sacramento. His most recent film, “Terminator Genisys,” opened July 1 and has earned nearly $450 million globally but was underwhelming at the U.S. box office.
Nonetheless, Schwarzenegger is an instantly recognizable and larger-than-life personality, which makes him a score for “Celebrity Apprentice.” Funnily enough, Schwarzenegger actually delivered the line “You’re fired” — which was Trump’s catchphrase for eliminating contestants — in his 1994 action-comedy “True Lies.”
“Arnold Schwarzenegger is the epitome of a global brand in entertainment and business, and his accomplishments in the political arena speak for themselves,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming. “It was Arnold’s personal passion for the format that Mark Burnett and Donald Trump built over the last decade, as well as his fresh take on how to take it to new heights for today’s audiences, that made him the man to hire. ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ … will be back!”
Schwarzenegger is repped by CAA and Patrick Knapp and Jacob Bloom of Bloom Hergott.