In an epic mishmash of politics and celebrity, Donald Trump’s elevation from Celebrity Apprentice host to president-elect has created an opening for actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to become a reality TV star.
To further complicate matters, Trump retains a producing stake in The New Celebrity Apprentice.
But Schwarzenegger says viewers will find out who’s the boss when the revamped reality series debuts on NBC with a two-hour episode.
“The show is Arnold. The other one was Trump. I have a different personality and I do everything kind of lighthearted,” said Schwarzenegger, of bodybuilding, Terminator movies and political fame. He served as governor from 2003-2011.
He was sanguine about whether the Trump connection, past or present, may dissuade some viewers from tuning in after the bitterly divisive presidential election. (Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, said in an October statement that he wouldn’t vote for Trump, calling it a choice of “your country over your party.”)
“People always like to associate themselves with a winner, and he won, so I think that’s a big plus for the show,” Schwarzenegger said. Besides, he added, “I never concern myself over things I have no control over.”
“When we did the show, we didn’t do it thinking about, ‘Is Trump going to win? What does it mean he was the host of the show?’ None of it,” he said.
Contestant Laila Ali, boxing champ and daughter of the late Muhammad Ali, did consider whether some might vote against watching Celebrity Apprentice because of Trump.
“It’s definitely something I thought about, and I’m hoping that doesn’t happen because it’s a whole new show. But I could definitely see certain people feeling that way,” she said. “We shot the show a long time ago (last February) and things weren’t where they are now.”
She hopes viewers will “take it for what it is,” entertainment in which money won by its celebrity competitors goes to charity. In Ali’s case, that’s the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Other contenders include Boy George, Eric Dickerson, Vince Neil, Jon Lovitz, Carson Kressley, Carnie Wilson and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. Among the advisers: heavyweights Warren Buffett and Steve Ballmer.
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