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Arnold Schwarzenegger is headed for the boardroom.
The Celebrity Apprentice has named the actor and twice-elected California governor as the new host of the reality competition, NBC announced Monday.
Schwarzenegger replaces longtime host Donald Trump, who parted ways with NBC shortly after he announced his presidential campaign in June.
The network first said it planned to “re-evaluate” Trump’s role on the reality competition — which stems back to its 2005 debut — in June when Trump announced he was running for president. At the time, NBC’s stance was due to the strict rules networks must abide by in giving equal screen time to all presidential candidates.
However, NBC severed all ties with Trump in July after he made what NBC deemed to be “derogatory statements” about Mexican immigrants. In a June 16 speech, he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and as people bringing drugs and crime into the U.S. in a speech announcing his presidential campaign.
In addition to cutting him from Celebrity Apprentice, the network also dropped the Miss USA pageant — which aired on Reelz Channel on July 12 — as well as the Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pageants. WME | IMG announced early Monday that they had purchased the Miss Universe Organization.
Celebrity Apprentice has continued to be a solid ratings performer for NBC. The most recent season averaged a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49 despite the nearly yearlong gap between the start of production in early 2014 and the season’s debut in January 2015. The show was renewed in February. However, NBC announced at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that the series would not return until the 2016-2017 season.
At the tour, network chief Bob Greenblatt said that the network had been “overwhelmed by a number of really exciting people” hoping to fill the host spot left vacant by Trump. “As soon as we settle on someone, we will get the word out, and something tells me it will be big news,” he said.
Despite their summer separation, Greenblatt praised Trump as “a lovely guy” and spoke highly of their “congenial, really great relationship.” Trump appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show on Friday — his first late-night appearance since announcing his presidential campaign.
Trump congratulated his successor on Twitter shortly after the news broke.
Congrats to my friend @Schwarzenegger who is doing next season’s Celebrity Apprentice. He’ll be great & will raise lots of $ for charity.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2015
Schwarzenegger joins Celebrity Apprentice for the upcoming 15th season of the franchise. “I have always been a huge fan of The Celebrity Apprentice and the way it showcases the challenges and triumphs of business and teamwork,” he said in a statement. “I am thrilled to bring my experience to the boardroom and to continue to raise millions for charity. Let’s get started!”
Wow. I’m blown away and honored by all your tweets. I can’t wait to bring my experience to the board room & raise millions for charity.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) September 14, 2015
Since leaving office in 2011, Schwarzenegger has recently appeared in Terminator Genisys and The Expendables films. On the small screen, his credits include the series finale of Two and a Half Men and the Showtime docuseries Years of Living Dangerously, which he produced. Additionally, Schwarzenegger was one of the early investors in the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain.
“After leaving the show to run for political office, Donald made it clear that he wanted The Celebrity Apprentice to be able to continue to raise millions of dollars annually for worthy causes, and now NBC and I have found an amazing new leader to do just that,” said executive producer Mark Burnett in a statement. “Gov. Schwarzenegger will use his vast and highly successful business, political and media experience to drive this hit franchise to new heights.”
Added Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of late-night and alternative programming: “Arnold Schwarzenegger is the epitome of a global brand in entertainment and business, and his accomplishments in the political arena speak for themselves. It was Arnold’s personal passion for the format that Mark Burnett and Donald Trump built over the last decade, as well as his fresh take on how to take it to new heights for today’s audiences, that made him the man to hire. The Celebrity Apprentice … will be back!”
Schwarzenegger will also serve as an executive producer on The Celebrity Apprentice with Burnett, Page Feldman and Eric Van Wagenen. United Artists Media Group will produce.
Schwarzenegger is repped by CAA and Bloom Hergott.
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