Arnold Schwarzenegger is already sounding a lot like Donald Trump when it comes to the new Celebrity Apprentice: He wants his ratings to be yuuge.
When addressing the press for the first time Friday, Schwarzenegger — who is taking Trump’s place in the boardroom when the NBC show returns Jan. 2 — said he’s hoping everyone roots for the new iteration because “I want my ratings a little higher than his was.” And in case you were wondering, he doesn’t expect the reality competition to take a hit in viewership simply because Trump has retained an executive producer credit on the show.
“It’s not a political show. We make no comments about politics,” said Schwarzenegger, who said he’s always known about Trump’s above-the-line involvement in the show. “When I was building a career in Hollywood and I was a Republican, everyone said, ‘Arnold you are going to fail because Hollywood is a very liberal town.’ My beliefs are my beliefs. And you know what? They don’t judge you by your politics in the end. People went to see my movies because they enjoyed the movies.”
Schwarzenegger and the cast of Celebrity Apprentice — which includes Laila Ali, Jon Lovitz, Kyle Richards and Nicole Polizzi — assembled in a Universal Studios soundstage to talk about the new season, but most of the questions were directed to the former California governor were about his relationship with the president-elect. When pressed about Trump’s involvement and whether he will call and give production notes, Schwarzenegger waved away the question. “I don’t get into hypotheticals if Trump calls or if he says this or if NBC says that,” said Schwarzenegger. “I don’t occupy thoughts with that kind of thing.”
He then reminded the media, “I am an executive producer too. That’s what I’m happy about.”
After trying to kid the entertainment media members over their sudden interest in politics, Schwarzenegger used the opportunity to show support for the president-elect, whom he admitted knowing for years.
“Donald and I did not start our first connection because of this show,” said Schwarzenegger. “I run into him the last 30 years. We’ve been at the same parties, he comes to some of my events, so we have seen each other and talked to each other many times. I think when it comes to picking his cabinet, we have to give him a chance. We cannot judge anything after one month. Let us watch him go and get started before we go and start judging all the little moves. I only know this because it’s exactly what happened to me [while governor of California]. Let’s just wait … and make sure that Celebrity Apprentice is very successful.”
Longtime executive producer Mark Burnett, who was supposed to attend the press conference, was missing due to a “scheduling conflict,” an NBC spokeswoman said.
Celebrity Apprentice debuts Jan. 2 on NBC.