The no-nonsense actor and former governor of California said he was leaving the show because of “baggage” associated with U.S. President Donald Trump. Of course, Trump is the former host of Celebrity Apprentice, and is still listed as an executive producer in the show’s credits.
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Ever since the show’s premiere in January, Trump has been dogging Schwarzenegger over the reality show’s poor ratings.
John Koblin, TV reporter for the New York Times, said that Schwarzenegger told American Apprentice network NBC that he wouldn’t be returning as host.
Speaking to Empire, Schwarzenegger reiterated his message.
“I learned a lot, I had a great time, it was a really great opportunity,” Schwarzenegger said. “But under the circumstances I don’t want to do it again. 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!'”
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Schwarzenegger went on to tell Empire that even if he was asked to return, he would “decline.” He also said he didn’t want to be involved in any way, shape or form in the future — even as a spectator or sponsor.
Celebrity Apprentice would have had a hard time getting renewed anyway, since its ratings plummeted over the course of the season.
The New Celebrity Apprentice premiered on Jan. 2 with Schwarzenegger at the helm, and Entertainment Weekly reports that the new iteration lost nearly half its adult audience (in the 18-49 demo rating) compared to its previous version two years ago. Overall, the show’s viewership dropped 44 per cent from the 2015 debut, when Trump was still host.
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There were some interfering factors on Jan. 2 that may have impacted the show’s performance: it was the day after New Year’s, rival network ABC aired its two-hour premiere of The Bachelor at the same time, and American college football’s Rose Bowl (which was a very exciting game) ended up going over its scheduled running time by an hour, drawing potential viewers away.
Schwarzenegger refused to endorse Trump’s presidential run and declared that he would not vote for him, despite being a Republican since becoming a U.S. citizen in 1983. He encouraged all other Republicans to do the same.