Arnold Schwarzenegger Says Trump "Has No Interest in Being Involved" With 'Apprentice,' Would Still Take His Advice
The former California governor joked about Trump mentioning the reality TV series at "every press conference" and that he got Mexico to pay his salary.
Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on NBC's Today show on Thursday morning to talk about the new season of Celebrity Apprentice, which the former California governor is taking over for the past host, president-elect Donald Trump.
But the sit-down with Matt Lauer was more about politics than reality TV. The recent revelation that Trump will remain a profit participant and executive producer on the NBC reality show has generated controversy and raised new questions about the businessman's potential conflicts of interest.
Trump insisted he'd spend "zero time" on the show, and it seems unlikely that he'd be involved in the current season, even if he wanted to, as filming wrapped in March and postproduction is largely completed.
Schwarzenegger said last week that he knew "from the beginning" that his predecessor would be an "executive producer" and compared Trump's relationship to the show with him receiving royalties while he served as governor of California.
On Thursday's Today, though, Lauer pressed Schwarzenegger on Trump's involvement, asking the new host what he'd do if Trump called him midway through the season with some advice. The former governor said he didn't think Trump would offer it, but if he did, he'd listen to it.
"Well, I always like to get advice, but I don't think that he will have time. I think it's perfectly fine that he will have the executive producer credit because he created the show with Mark Burnett together. So why should his credit go?" Schwarzenegger said. "But he made it very clear that he has no interest in being involved. It is now my show. I am the host. I am the new boss, and I'm going to run this show. But any time I'm advised [by anyone], I would take [the] advice."
Earlier Lauer asked Schwarzenegger if it "sound[ed] right" for Trump to be both "president of the United States and executive producer of The Celebrity Apprentice," referring to the series as "a program that is owned and produced by MGM that airs on NBC."
The former governor made a joke that alluded to Trump's infamous comments about his much discussed border wall. "Well, what was great about it was part of the negotiation," he began. "I mean, I get millions of dollars for hosting the show, but NBC doesn't have to pay for it. Trump makes Mexico pay for it."
Lauer laughed, then added, "I set you up for that. That was my fault."
Later, though, Schwarzenegger ended a serious discussion about what he hopes Trump will do as president by deadpanning, "The other important thing is that every press conference he holds — very important here, Matt — that he talks about The Celebrity Apprentice and he says Schwarzenegger … is a stud. He looks fantastic on the show. That is the important thing."
"He may actually say that," Lauer said. "He at least will tweet it, I'm sure."
Although Schwarzenegger said after the audio of Trump's Access Hollywood conversation leaked that he wouldn't vote for the presidential candidate, the longtime Republican says he now supports the president-elect.
"Now he is elected, and it's very important that we all support the president, that we all come together and we stop whining and it becomes one nation. As Obama said many years ago, it's not blue states and red states — it's the United States of America," Schwarzenegger said, going on to reference former President George H.W. Bush's recently resurfaced letter to Bill Clinton in which he said that if the new president is successful, the country will be successful. "And this is exactly what I feel about Trump, and that's what I felt about Obama or anybody. When somebody is elected, you get 100 percent behind them and you try to help them shape the future of the country. … I'm also an environmentalist, so it's very important at the same time, and it's one of the reasons why I couldn't go with Trump is because I want to make sure that we're going into a clean environment and a clean future, because that's what we did in California."
Schwarzenegger, who shared some advice to Trump for transitioning from entertainment to politics, said he hoped the president-elect will be able to get Democrats and Republicans to come together and serve the public at large.
Watch Schwarzenegger's full interview below.