In early December, news broke that President-elect Donald Trump would remain an executive producer on The Celebrity Apprentice, making him the first commander in chief to earn reality TV royalties while in office. Of course, this isn’t the first time Trump has thrown caution/national security to the wind. Trump is also slated to be the first president who will announce policy via Twitter, and the first president to treat his daughter like his wife. But long before Trump rode American nihilism all the way to the Oval Office, he was already making history as the first major party candidate to have bragged about his history of sexual assault to Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush.
In an explosive audio recording leaked during his campaign, Trump outlined his sophisticated methods of nonconsensual seduction—step one: Eat a Tic Tac; step two: Grab her by the pussy. When concerned constituents astutely pointed out that the Republican candidate was describing sexual assault, team Trump countered that the tape was merely “locker room banter,” the kind of casual conversation that married men often engage in while wearing microphones at their place of work. This scandalous story proceeded to take a turn for the entirely expected, with over a dozen women coming forward to allege that Trump had, in fact, committed the crime that he openly confessed to.
From journalists to colleagues to Miss USA contestants, no woman was safe from the audacity of Donald’s grope. Despite this avalanche of allegations, Trump stood his ground, arguing, for example, that one of his accusers was too ugly to be sexually assaulted. He also tried to pull an “I don’t know her,” which doesn’t really work when the alleged victim interviewed you on the record. He went on to vow that “all of these women will be sued after the election.” Positively presidential!
But with The Donald positioned to translate his everyday misogyny into anti-women policies, Celebrity Apprentice is down one sexually deviant host. Seemingly set on finding someone with exactly as much disregard for physical boundaries as our president-elect, producers turned to Arnold Schwarzenegger. In addition to being one of the few politicians as unqualified for office as Donald Trump, the former actor and bodybuilder has allegedly engaged in the exact sort of sexual harassment that American voters apparently don’t give a shit about. The Arnold even sounds like The Donald. In a 2003 Esquire interview, Schwarzenegger opined, “When you see a blond with great tits and a great ass, you say to yourself, ‘Hey, she must be stupid or must have nothing else to offer,’ which maybe is the case many times. But then again there is the one that is as smart as her breasts look, great as her face looks, beautiful as her whole body looks, gorgeous, you know, so people are shocked.” The only way that quote could sound more like the president-elect is if it somehow managed to work in Hillary’s email server and Ivanka Trump.
While Schwarzenegger’s unseemly past didn’t become widespread public fodder until he ran for office in 2003, a 2001 exposé in Premiere Magazine is widely credited with bringing Arnold’s boorishness to light. In the article, aptly titled “Arnold the Barbarian,” author John Connolly ran through a litany of shocking anecdotes about the actor. He told the story of Anna Richardson, a female talk-show host whom Arnold worked with on a London publicity tour. Richardson claims that right after the cameras stopped rolling on their interview segment, Schwarzenegger “tweaked her nipple and then laughed at her objections.” She recalled, “I left the room quite shaken… What was more upsetting was that his people rushed to protect him and scapegoated me, and not one person came to apologize afterward.” Schwarzenegger’s team later went so far as to try and discredit the television personality, issuing a statement that the “outrageous fabrication” was merely Richardson’s attempt to get her “15 minutes of fame.”
Of course, when you’ve spent your entire life on a perverted mission to grab ’em all, it’s impossible to shut down every story—eventually, the allegations will start stacking up. For Schwarzenegger, who was married to Maria Shriver for 25 years, this type of behavior seemed to be the norm. While shooting Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a producer recalled watching Schwarzenegger approach a female crew member. Arnold allegedly proceeded to put his hands inside of her silk blouse and pull her breasts out of her bra. Another observer added, “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This woman’s nipples were exposed, and here’s Arnold and a few of his clones laughing. I went after the woman, who had run to the shelter of a nearby trailer. She was hysterical but refused to press charges for fear of losing her job. It was disgusting.”
Another producer on a Schwarzenegger film recalled to Premiere the time her ex-husband came to visit on set. When she introduced him to Schwarzenegger, the star joked, “Is this guy the reason why you didn’t come up to my hotel room last night and suck my cock?” Rounding out this terrifying trio is the story of a woman visiting the set of 1996’s Eraser. The woman’s friend, who worked on set, was tasked with fetching Schwarzenegger from his trailer. “He asked me if I wanted to meet Arnold, and I said sure. When we opened the door to his trailer, Arnold was giving oral sex to a woman,” she claimed. “He looked up and, with that accent, said very slowly, ‘Eating is not cheating.’”
While Schwarzenegger undoubtedly kept his team busy squashing stories and combatting bad publicity, his 2003 campaign for governor of California pushed these allegations, and many more, into the mainstream. In October of 2003, the Los Angeles Times took a well-researched stand against the aspiring governator, publishing three decades’ worth of allegations. The investigation centered on six women, all of whom alleged that the actor touched them without their consent. Three claimed that the actor grabbed their breasts—the fourth said that he reached under her skirt, and a fifth claimed that he groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth woman claimed that Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his lap and “asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.” “Did he rape me? No,” said one of the women, who described a 1980 encounter in which Schwarzenegger touched her breast. “Did he humiliate me? You bet he did.”
Schwarzenegger’s campaign spokesman responded defensively to the incendiary article, claiming that the allegations were part of a political attack. He insisted that the would-be governor would have no comment. On the heels of this denial, the Schwarzenegger camp did a complete 180, pushing the actor to make a public statement. What followed was a proto-Trump “apple-gy,” with a heavy dose of vagueness and deflection. In lieu of copping to sexual assault, Schwarzenegger admitted that he had occasionally “behaved badly” on set. “It is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right which I thought then was playful,” he said. “But now I recognize that I offended people. Those people that I have offended, I want to say to them I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize because that’s not what I’m trying to do.” He went on to promise that, if elected, he would be a “champion of women.” One day later, three more women came forward with allegations against the Republican front-runner, bringing the final count to 11 accusers. Three days after that, Arnold Schwarzenegger became the 38th governor of California.
Two terms, one divorce, and one revelation of an affair with the family housekeeper—and a love child—later, Arnold is set to usher in a new age of The Celebrity Apprentice on Jan. 2. Of course, given all the unflattering ways Schwarzenegger resembles his predecessor, it’s safe to say that the reboot will maintain its core male chauvinism.