As yet another potential example on the long list of conflicts of interest facing Donald Trump, Variety reports that the president-elect will keep his executive producer credit for the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice on NBC, complete with payment. The news serves as one more reminder that the soon-to-be-commander-in-chief is a reality TV star first and political figure second, and will profit accordingly.
The New Celebrity Apprentice will debut on January 2nd — 18 days before Inauguration Day — and run for an eight-episode season. Trump’s name will appear in the credits with Apprentice creator Mark Burnett and new host and EP Arnold Schwarzenegger. MGM, the production company distributing the show, will handle payment to the president-elect. It’s not clear what kind of money Trump will make off the new season, but, according to Variety, his per-episode fee is likely to be in the low five-figure range. According to spokeswoman Hope Hicks, Trump’s team will announce more about his business interests in the show on December 15th.
Asked about Apprentice royalties, Hope Hicks says ‘Additional details regarding his business interests will be shared December 15th’ 2/2— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) December 8, 2016
It’s not likely that Trump will have any hands-on involvement in the show when it premieres in January. (That would be inappropriate.) However, the optics alone will certainly stoke criticism. Trump has already been roundly attacked for a whole host of conflicts, including his children’s presence on his transition team while running his companies, his meetings with foreign business people, and his refusal to disclose his tax returns. Meanwhile, NBC, which cut ties with Trump after he called Mexicans rapists, will almost certainly take a drubbing for this considering Trump’s appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Put another way: like so many of his properties, Trump may not have anything to do with The New Apprentice. But of course his name will be on it.