11:28am PT by Michael O'Connell
Donald Trump Says 'Celebrity Apprentice' Is the No. 1 Show on TV
No one could accuse The Celebrity Apprentice of underperforming this season. NBC's reality competition, off the air for two years, premiered two weeks ago with a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 6.3 million viewers — despite decidedly low expectations for the delayed return.
Settling in subsequent episodes, it's still performing well … though not as well as host and executive producer Donald Trump seems to think.
"It's the No. 1 show on television," he exclaimed to a room of muffled laughs at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, before brushing off suggestions that NBC delayed the return because of his own controversial and alienating media persona. "They were calling me all of the time. I think NBC always liked it. I was always pushing it."
See More Watch Donald Trump Fire Keshia Knight Pulliam for Not Calling Bill Cosby
Confusion over how Trump reached the conclusion that his show was the highest-rated on television — it is not — prompted several more questions about the ratings. After conceding that it is just the highest-rated show on Mondays — it is not — Trump was informed that CBS sitcom Mike & Molly has topped Mondays for the last two weeks. "That's just what I had heard," he said with a shrug.
There was one moment during the discussion when ego seemed to take a backseat. Trump was asked about the late Joan Rivers appearing on the current season, having taped a guest spot long before her September death. "She was fantastic, she was strong, she was vibrant," he said. "She is so good on the show, and we had a decision to make. Do we leave her or not? We're doing it in memoriam, essentially. It shows how smart, how sharp, how incredible she was. I think people are going to see something really inspirational."
Not to be entirely flattering, Trump reminded reporters that her career was "not doing well" when he first put her on the show in 2009: "It went through the roof after she did Celebrity Apprentice."
When talk ultimately turned to politics, Trump brushed off the suggestion that he ever considered running for governor of New York in the recent election — despite the fact that the Republican Party "really wanted him to."
"I am very busy with major business deals all over the world," he explained.