Arnold Schwarzenegger said he won't return to The New Celebrity Apprentice, throwing shade at executive producer — and president — Donald Trump in the process.
In an interview and a statement, the former California governor said he's done after one season hosting Apprentice, which he joined after Trump's presidential ambitions precluded his continuing role. (Trump's final season ended two years ago).
Schwarzenegger's announcement may be a TV version of a political tactic, getting ahead of a story, since he (and perhaps the show) weren't likely to return anyway based on the NBC reality show's low ratings. It averaged 4.9 million viewers this season, which ended last month.
In a statement, Schwarzenegger said, “I loved every second of working with NBC and Mark Burnett. Everyone — from the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department — was a straight 10, and I would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn’t have this baggage.”
"This baggage" seems like a not-so-veiled reference to Trump, who belittled Schwarzenegger's TV ratings in tweets and even at the National Prayer Breakfast last month. The two have engaged in Twitter spats since the show premiered in January.
In a tweet Saturday morning, Trump claimed Schwarzenegger was fired from the show.
Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
And Schwarzenegger fired back against Trump by suggesting he add a fact-checker and joke writer to his staff.
You should think about hiring a new joke writer and a fact checker. https://t.co/SvAjuPdHfa— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) March 4, 2017
The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice became hits for NBC when Trump was star and executive producer, but ratings have declined in recent seasons.
NBC declined comment on Schwarzenegger's announcement.