×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mark Burnett on How Trump, Politics Hurt ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ Revival With Schwarzenegger

The bitterness of the nation’s post-election political and cultural divide doomed the revival earlier this year of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” with Arnold Schwarzenegger replacing Donald Trump at the helm. That’s the view of series creator Mark Burnett, who predicts the show will be back on the air in the U.S. in some form in the not too distant future — perhaps with a woman at the helm.

“ ‘The Apprentice’ is a great format,” Burnett told Variety during a wide-ranging interview last month. “Formats are hard to come by. It continues to be one of the top shows in the U.K. I believe we’ll carry on (in the U.S.) for many years to come. I’m sure sometime in the next year we’ll look at it again and figure out what we do now.”

The attention that the revival generated because of its past association with Trump put a burden on the Schwarzenegger edition that was hard to overcome. The outcry over Trump and allegations about his behavior toward women and minorities cast a cloud over the franchise that had given Trump the national profile boost that set the stage for his White House run. The fact that the Schwarzenegger rendition, dubbed “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” still carried Trump’s name as an executive producer was another flashpoint.

Burnett said the show also suffered because of its timing — it debuted Jan. 2, following Trump’s decision to enter the 2016 presidential race. “It came on at a time in our country when there’s a big divide,” Burnett said. “That didn’t help the show. Many people couldn’t look at it purely on the merits of the fun of the show. That certainly didn’t help.”

Burnett was quick to add that he thought the Schwarzenegger edition was “really well made” despite its modest viewership. “New Celebrity Apprentice” averaged less than 4 million viewers for its seven-episode run, a double-digit drop from the last Trump-hosted season. Schwarzenegger announced after the finale in February that he would not return to the show.

Burnett said it might be time to return to a non-celebrity format, as it was when “Apprentice” premiered in 2004. The U.K. has a successful version of the show with teenage contenders that could be a possibility. So is the prospect of having a woman run the boardroom for the first time since “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” went one season and out on NBC in 2005.

Trump remains connected to “The Apprentice” franchise as a profit participant who owns a piece of the show. Trump was publicly critical via Twitter of the Schwarzenegger version, but Burnett maintains the two have not discussed the future of the show.

“I’m sure he’s got more things on his mind,” Burnett said. “We’ve had zero discussion about what to do with ‘The Apprentice.’ ”

(Pictured: Mark Burnett, Arnold Schwarzenegger)

More TV

  • The Netflix logo is displayed at

    TV Roundup: Netflix Orders Ted Bundy Docu-Series

    In today’s TV roundup, Netflix has ordered a docu-series on serial killer Ted Bundy and “Love, Gilda” sets a premiere date on CNN FIRST LOOKS Variety has obtained an exclusive clip of “Into the Okavango,” the upcoming National Geographic film. Premiering Dec. 14 on Nat Geo, the film, six years in the making, follows a [...]

  • Amy Poehler Is Ready for a

    Amy Poehler Is Ready for a 'Parks and Rec' Reunion

    Is Amy Poehler just getting our hopes up? We hope not, because the funny lady tells Variety that she’s ready for a “Parks and Recreation” reunion. “I am technically available,” Poehler said on Monday at Smart Girls’ 10th anniversary celebration dinner. “I have like six of Leslie’s blazers in my closet, so anytime.” Related Ken Burns [...]

  • Liz Meriwether Lake Bell

    Lake Bell, Liz Meriwether Comedy 'Bless This Mess' Moves From Fox to ABC With Series Order

    “Bless This Mess,” the single-camera comedy co-created by Lake Bell and Elizabeth Meriwether, has been ordered to series at ABC, Variety has learned. The series had previously been in contention at Fox and is a co-production between 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios. Bell also stars in the series alongside Dax Shepard. In the series, a [...]

  • 'Get Shorty' Renewed for Season 3

    'Get Shorty' Renewed for Season 3 at Epix

    Epix has renewed “Get Shorty” for Season 3. The loose adaptation of the 1990 Elmore Leonard novel and subsequent film stars Chris O’Dowd, Ray Romano, Lidio Porto, Megan Stevenson, Sean Bridgers, and Carolyn Dodd. In the series, O’Dowd plays a hitman from Nevada who struggles to shed his criminal past after he moves to Hollywood to [...]

  • Goliath Season 2 Amazon

    Amazon Renews 'Goliath' for Season 3

    Amazon has renewed legal drama “Goliath” for a third season. “Goliath” centers on washed-up lawyer Billy McBride, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who has one shot at redemption after a client he successfully defended from a murder charge went on to slaughter a family. Thornton won a Golden Globe for his performance in 2017. “Our [...]

  • Selena Quintanilla

    Selena Quintanilla Scripted Series Gets Greenlight at Netflix

    Netflix has ordered a scripted drama series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla. The series is described as a coming of age story following Selena as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching and life-changing choices she and her family have to make as they navigate success, family, and music. “Selena [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content