On Friday, Empire published an exclusive interview with the Terminator star and new Apprentice host. At one point, the reporter asked Schwarzenegger about a recent Wrap report that said viewers and sponsors have bailed on the Donald Trump-associated reality-TV show.
Schwarzenegger confirmed the Wrap story—and then proceeded to vent about President Trump.
“I don’t want to do it again,” Trump’s Apprentice successor told Empire. “It’s not about the show, because everyone I ran into came up to me and said ‘I love the show… but I turned it off because as soon as I read Trump’s name I’m outta there!’ … When people found out that Trump was still involved as executive producer and was still receiving money from the show, then half the people [started] boycotting it.”
“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,” Schwarzenegger continued, bluntly. “It’s a very divisive period now and I think this show got caught up in all that division.”
Schwarzenegger also released a brief statement following up, citing The Apprentice’s “baggage”:
The White House did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, and NBC had no comment on the matter on Friday afternoon. As of press time, President Trump has not weighed in on the news of Schwarzenegger’s self-firing, though the two have tussled on Twitter recently.
Schwarzenegger—who is no stranger to scandal and “baggage,” either—has continued to be a critic of the president during his short time in office. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, was critical of—and said he would not vote for—Trump during the campaign.
In what appears to be Schwarzenegger’s sole season on the show, however, the former California governor and current American president were forced to enjoy a business partnership.
In 2015, NBC made a big deal out of severing ties with Trump over his bigoted presidential campaign, only to get back in bed with The Donald when it was announced in December that Trump would keep an executive-producer credit on the new version of Celebrity Apprentice.
Trump also maintained a continued financial stake in the show, paid through the production entity of MGM, the media company that acquired Apprentice creator (and Trump pal) Mark Burnett’s production company for upwards of $500 million.
Shortly before Trump stepped into office, the then president-elect began needlessly hate-tweeting Schwarzenegger, mocking him for having “supported Kasich & Hillary” in 2016 and for having inferior Apprentice ratings when compared to Trump’s.
Still, what the president didn’t mention was that, despite superior ratings, Trump’s reign as host of The Apprentice was marked by scandal, humiliation, pervasive foul and sexist comments behind-the-scenes, and at its very worst allegations of sexual assault, as The Daily Beast reported in a month-long investigation last year.
“[Trump] is and always has been a joke—I can’t believe anyone now is taking him seriously,” a female Apprentice employee, who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Celebrity Apprentice contestant and actor Gary Busey, told The Daily Beast in October. “He’s a monster.”
It was an alleged attack that, as The Daily Beast previously reported, Trump knew all about and then proceeded to do worse than nothing about it: Trump laughed it off and kept Busey on his TV series working with the alleged victim.
Last year during the campaign, Summer Zervos, a contestant on Season 5 of The Apprentice, became one of many women to come forward to accuse Trump of sexual assault or misconduct. Zervos claimed that he “thrusted” his “genitals” on her.
This is to say nothing of the fact that, as The Daily Beast reported in October, during one season of Celebrity Apprentice Trump repeatedly mocked deaf Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin as being mentally “retarded.” In a subsequent season, Trump repeatedly called rapper and contestant Lil Jon an “Uncle Tom,” a racial slur, even after several producers begged him to stop.
Schwarzenegger is now bailing on a series with this kind of legacy. It is unclear if the reality-TV series will return for another season following Schwarzenegger’s departure.