Donald Trump to Remain Executive Producer on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Donald Trump Celebrity Apprentice

Donald Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” which is returning Jan. 2 after a two-year hiatus with new host Arnold Schwarzenegger.

MGM confirmed to Variety that Trump has retained his EP credit on the series. The president-elect’s status on the 15th season of the reality series that made him a household name has been a question since Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015. In the credit sequence, Trump’s name will air after that of “Apprentice” creator Mark Burnett and before Schwarzenegger, who is also an exec producer of the new incarnation along with Page Feldman and Eric Van Wagenen.

The larger issue for MGM, NBC, and the White House is the payment that Trump will receive for the series. It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum. NBC has ordered eight episodes of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC. MGM declined to comment on the financial terms of Trump’s deal.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed that Trump has maintained a financial interest in “Apprentice.”

“Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett,” Hicks said. Trump has scheduled a news conference on Dec. 15 in New York to discuss his plans for separating himself from his vast array of business interests after he is sworn is as president.

As has often been recounted, Burnett created “Apprentice” with the idea of recruiting a new CEO every season to preside over the elimination of contestants vying to impress with their entrepreneurial efforts. Burnett had long been a fan of Trump’s brash showmanship, and he has cited Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal” as an influence on his own development as a producer. Trump was Burnett’s first choice for the CEO to launch the show.

Trump was so good early on the first season that Burnett quickly decided to make him the permanent “Apprentice” frontman. “Apprentice” was an overnight success in its January 2004 debut on NBC. Burnett owned the franchise outright until he sold his One Three Media company to MGM in 2015.


Donald Trump

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But Trump is also a profit participant on the “Apprentice” franchise, which has been sold as a format in various markets around the world since 2004. Trump bowed out as frontman of the show as he launched his political career. His last episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” aired in February 2015. NBC wound up cutting its business ties to Trump in July 2015 amid the outrage stirred by Trump’s assertion that many Mexican illegal immigrants are criminals and rapists.

Although Trump has no role in the production of the show, the fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump’s segue from private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief. However, past presidents have published books during their time in the White House, so there is precedent for a president earning royalties while in office. In the case of President Obama’s 2010 book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,” his profits from the Alfred A. Knopf publication were donated to a charity that aids the children of disabled veterans.

As of Thursday, NBC had yet to post the final credits for “New Celebrity Apprentice” on its press website. The show is hosting a press event in Los Angeles on Friday with Schwarzenegger and Burnett.

Trump’s tenure on “Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” came under scrutiny earlier this year when former staffers and participants on the show came forward with allegations of inappropriate and crude behavior by Trump during the production. The revelation in October of a hot-mic discussion between Trump and Billy Bush on a 2005 segment of “Access Hollywood” — in which Trump now famously bragged about being able to grab women “by the pussy” because of his celebrity status — led to calls for MGM and Burnett to release outtakes from “Apprentice” that might have captured such conduct by the then-Republican nominee for president. Burnett and MGM resisted that pressure, saying they were contractually unable to do so, nor was it feasible to comb through 14 seasons’ worth of footage.

In October, Burnett distanced himself from Trump’s political campaign with a statement asserting that he disavowed “the hatred, division and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign.” Burnett has been a supporter of Democratic candidates, including President Obama, in the past.

However, Burnett met with Trump in New York this week, and a knowledgeable source said he is contributing to the Trump inauguration planning effort led by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the veteran New York event maven known for presiding over the glitzy Met Ball for a decade.

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  1. James says:

    Unfortunately for The Donald, because he is so divisive, anything that he comments on will drive people in two distinct directions. His fans will agree with everything he says or copy what he does, whereas his critics will immediately disagree. If he truly thought that Arnie’s version of Celebrity Apprentice was bad, then he should have kept quiet about it- because by critisizing Arnie he has given the show so much more attention that the viewing figures were bound to rise (in the short term)!

  2. Me says:

    Oohhh my LORD! how ever will this show continue on without all 50 of you watching it? This show will go under for sure. Thank God for all you loyal haters, whatever would we do without you. GIVE ME A BREAK! Please, tell me you don’t believe your opinion matters for even a second? If you truly believed it does, you need more help then anyone realizes. Get A Frigging Life Already, try doing something productive, helpful, kind ANYTHING!!

  3. JP says:

    I love Arnold, but I will only watch when Donald is removed from the payroll.

  4. Nino says:

    I am watching CNBC and wondering why I am seeing the sitting president in a marathon of rebroadcasts of the Celebrity Apprentice. In teasers during commercial breaks they refer to president trump as a reference to his current title. I believe that this is in direct violation of his promise to not be involved in the show. He and the show is profiting from his status as the sitting president as they are using that fact to advertise the show. Please forward this email to the proper channels to get this information into the publics ears so that we may put an end to this clear violation of a conflict of interest


    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Pat Michaels says:

    I just watched Celiberty Apprentice because Trump said it was bad and I never agree with him. I liked the show, but will not watch again because he’s not pocketing from me in any way. I wonder if other people feel the same, and that’s why ratings are low.

  6. David Thor says:

    Obama kept the royalties to his book property and therefore Trump can keep any royalty from being an executive producer, which is typically a title reserved for those who may have had something creative or financial to do with the content or other property in question. If he spends any time working on the content, however, it should be logged as if it was in lieu of vacation time, for example.

  7. megconway16 says:

    I didn’t think any station could make Fox look better. NBC just accomplished new ethics low.
    Completely understand why Lauer soft on Trump.
    Have decided to name Trump, Conway (no relation), Bannon…as the “ConElite”
    No one comes close to a con like this group.
    NBC joining them..they’ve become supporters of the “ConElite”.
    They now have their own Versilles and their own version of “Let Them Eat Cake”-

  8. Ann Alford says:

    I will no longer watch the Apprentice
    Donald will not make money off me

  9. Sabrina Bertch says:

    So how much is he allowed to have to take his focus away from his job of the President. He should not be allowed to have any conflicts of interest or any other jobs. He is going to be the president (yuck, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit) that should be his only job. What is wrong with him?

  10. Ratings are everything. VOTE WITH YOUR REMOTE!

  11. Linda Clark says:

    This is disgusting! He doesn’t have enough to do being our president elect!!!
    Does it ever end. Won’t be watching NBC anymore !!!!!

  12. Dan Darnell says:

    Does the man have no shame? Is he even capable of, or understand the concept of, embarrassment?

  13. Joel Stegner says:

    Time for NBC to say “Donald, you are fired!” And this would be for Donald’s own good and the good of the country. If NBC executives don’t understand that country comes before profits, stockholders also need to send them their walking papers.

  14. Andrea Taylor says:

    It didn’t seem like any of the Kennedy’s or Bushes had any problems with all their outside interests.So why should Trump?

  15. “In October, Burnett distanced himself from Trump’s political campaign…the hatred, division and misogyny…”
    “Burnett met with Trump in New York this week…he is contributing to the Trump inauguration planning effort led…”
    Say, is Burnett part of the entertainment business? Smells like it.

  16. fjdlafjl says:

    EP, notice there are two at least mentioned in this article. Trump will be on the payroll because he helped “conceive” the show. One EP will be functional and one will be honorary for helping “conceive” the show.

  17. Matthew Wood says:

    Why should Trump give up ownership of anything he created, controls or built. George Washington didn’t. neither did Jefferson or any other President who had a business or written a book before taking the Presidency.

    The Constitution never mandated that the President can only come from the political class. And thank God for that. We finally have a world class businessman and negotiator as Commander in Chief.

    In a world full of sharks, America finally has its own shark. And he’s the biggest alpha-male shark of all.

    • dan darnell says:

      I realize this is the image he successfully put forward, however, you may want to know that his face is never seen on any society page, nor is his presence ever welcomed at any high function in our town.

      This cringe-worthy man is so isolated in the world’s leading city, that he had to build his own restaurants and hotels in order to be welcomed anywhere.

      As Michael Bloomberg has been quoted, and I paraphrase; “Look, I’m from New York, and I know a con when I see one”.

  18. Greg Ramirez says:

    But still no tax returns from Trump.

    • Debbie T says:

      Tax returns are required for anyone that is already elected to their position. Since Trump was a private citizen he is not required to show them. But when he runs again, for any office, he will be required to show them.

      • kezia says:

        Wrong. They are not “required,” as in mandated, for anyone to make public. However, politicians have set a precedent over the past 30 years or so by presenting their tax returns. It doesn’t matter if they were previously pols or not. They do this for transparency. While Trump may insist the public will learn nothing from his returns, that is another lie. There is plenty to ascertain by what a person puts on their income tax returns. And no, auditing doesn’t prohibit him from making them public.

  19. Destin Judy says:

    it appears he only did it for the money, without having any acting role, so the only acceptable reason is that he wants to donate his salary to a charity that is not corrupt. right? but that doesn’t excuse the show for letting him back in after gloating about grabbing women “by the pussy”. staff are even recently offended. should the show be held accountable for letting him back in? so sad. this is supposed to be a man we can admire

  20. Brian MacDougall says:

    Grifter-in-Chief. It’s a fire sale! Discounted dignity and decorum, yours for the asking. Stateliness? Hell, we’re giving it away. Kleptocrats welcome! No offer refused! Your money goes farther in the Trump White House than in any other White House. We speak Russian! Have you always wanted your own warhead? Don’t wait; make an offer! Thousands to choose from; all payloads! Free delivery!

    And yet, this is all very fitting. I suspect Trump will be the presidential equivalent of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. God help us all.

  21. Carol Ottinger says:

    I guess if an emergency comes up, he’ll have to wait until his show is over and he can drive back to the WH?

    • Debbie T says:

      He will not be producing the show! They are just keeping his name. Whatever $$ he makes is ONLY for use of his name. He refused $400,000 a year as his pay for President to keep from using taxpayer money. He will probably donate the pay from the station to a non profit. Give him a chance. He has done more in weeks than Obama in years for jobs but you all don’t even want to see that! I regret voting for Obama, he had dragged this nation down, set back race relations decades and never acted presidential. Trump has already surpassed Obama for jobs. For the first time in 8 years jobs are coming back to the USA. Get a grip people!

      • kezia says:

        By law, he cannot “refuse” the $400k. He can donate it to charity, if he chooses but he must take the $.

      • Jon S says:

        So, 8.3 million jobs created in 28 months is less than 800 that Trump gave Carrier (United Technologies) $700k each year for 10 years to keep in US. Let’s not mention the billions we are going to give United Technologies in government contracts; so that little Mr. Trump could have a photo op.

  22. Jacques Strappe says:

    Since NBC News is supposed to cover their “star” objectively, the only ethically appropriate action for NBC to take is to cancel the show before it airs. Let Twitter stream it. The a-hole in chief is great at provoking but not so ready to lead the free world.

  23. Ben Figg says:

    LA Times had the story a week ago.

  24. Dunstan says:

    Yet another conflict of interest. What a prick.

  25. Trump is taking the presidency as a sideline

  26. He’s taking the oath of office, not an oath of poverty…quit with the jealousy …

  27. Not BillUSA says:

    Both Trump and NBC Universal are making a complete mockery of American Politics. All of NBC’s posturing about being outraged by Trump’s statements was always just that… posturing. Show the public the face it wants to see.

    I knew there was no way NBC Universal and Trump were parting ways, and they’ve proven me right. Dig deeper than the surface, conventional media. These people are playing you like musical instruments.

  28. Alex Potter says:

    Mr. Trump, if you didnt want to actually BE president you shouldn’t have ran

  29. Mary Carter says:

    The world is watching and the United States is one big bad reality show.

  30. Every American says:

    Donald Trump is a child who feels he needs to defend himself to trolls instead of giving the losers their time to vent and get over themselves. I am a Mexican American who happens to be a Republican and pretty much disagrees with the president elect on every front but he is still my president and I will respect him as such but drop the twitter account drop the late night snl criticism. You’ve won, we’ve won this is not going to help the nation or our cause. Stop saying your working for a change and prove it. Thank you.

  31. may says:

    I knew he would turn the Presidency into a reality show and get his entire family in on the plot…The world is watching this debacle transpire into utter lunacy…

  32. Martin Edwards says:

    Jeff Zucker while chief at NBC Entertainment was responsoble for signing Donald Trump for the reality show The Apprentice. Mark Burnett and Mr Trump conceived the show and Zucker signed them. Was Zucker supplying questions to Hillary while signing Trump?

  33. bolo1950 says:

    Pretty sure it’s time for a boycott! This country just HAS to be the laughingstock of the entire world.

  34. Judypk says:

    I thought that NBC/Universal had separated themselves from this POS. Way to go you money grubbers. I hope that ratings tank BIGLY!!!

  35. Gene Tillock says:

    i would love to see a celebrity apprentice with all popular political candidates in the same room vying to be number one again- with hillary rummey the mummy christie to the brinkly wasserman-smith bernie sandman pacman fiorina and a couple of journalists too rachel madcow as the beaver kelly ayatch scream queen in hammity horror picture show james washington carville all david duking it out drunk one night stand too and mixing it up in the board room to be excommunicated after the show one by one two if by sea on and on all getting fired up and then refired as roled and then fried by sir donald as ronald trump himself for a good board room laugh or too or that may just be happening in the trump towers right now even or a unreasonable fascimile such as he had 10-15 years planning preluding it to his audience all along

  36. 1neuman says:

    How the Electoral College can in clear conscience confirm the presidency of this clown is beyond me.

  37. Oksana Yonan says:

    Trump’s greed knows no bounds.

  38. Andrew Masset says:

    OK..Enoygh..This asswipe is just pushing our Government laws and moral boundaries right over the cliff. He must be charged with Rape of a minor, Breaking Emolument clause, and impeached the second he takes the oath which he is perjuring that very moment. C’mon America..This is a perverted sexuall assaulter who has no standing as President of our country when he doesn’t abide by our laws.

  39. I think he’s picking his cabinet with the next season in mind.

  40. Because running the good old USofA is a part time job.

  41. The presidency is a full-time job, 24/7, 365 or 366 days/year. Donald is either in it, the presidency or he is not in it.

  42. Ruth Deutsch says:

    Have you made another notch on your Trump Tally of Terrible Tales of Conflict of Interest? SNL will have so much to work with, NBC will have to launch a “SNL-Trump” primetime show, maybe following “Celebrity Apprentice”? And he hasn’t even taken office yet, oh my…

    How is this LEGAL?!?!?!?!

  44. Laura says:

    Nope! Not gonna watch it!

  45. Matthew says:

    “Trump bowed out as frontman of the show as he launched his political career.”

    No, Trump launched his racist campaign, and NBC responded immediately.

    Trump of course claims it was he who gave them the elbow. But he’s a pathological liar, so I’ll apply Occam’s razor on this one, I think.

  46. Amanda says:

    Arnold endorsed Kasich and spoke out against Trump.

  47. zac says:

    Nothing shocks me about this ego maniac anymore. He will do nothing with the exception of his “tweets”…which is the good news. He is so busy replying to every insult he wiil NOT have time to do REAL prez’ biz. We can only hope that his personality prevails and he is the man he claims–self-proclaimed narcissist. This is a man/child who wants to be KING, Czar or Emperor or already believes he is. I can only hope for the “State of the union” that he resigns before he is “drummed out” after ONLY two years. He is an embarrassment. He is the President of the most powerful nation in the world–et he wants his name on a TV show. Someone explain it to me…or better yet justify it.

  48. Michael Anthony says:

    ANOTHER conflict of interest. Trump is treating POTTS as hisone year making machine.

    And NBC? You fire Billy Bush, but allow Trump to remain EP, and that notorious manhandled Arnold, to host. Surely, you’ll have to say “sorry” again, and go back to your ludicrous ways.

  49. See Me - Feel Me says:

    Wow, what a guy. Mark Burnett showing all the signs of a born again christian, to hell with principles, “show me the money!”

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