Celebrity Apprentice

NBC is breaking its silence about Celebrity Apprentice.

The veteran reality series still hasn’t been announced to return in midseason, and we’ve been hearing the show has been casting for a rather long time. Now NBC has released this statement from its reality chief Paul Telegdy: “We are on track to produce The Celebrity Apprentice as always planned, coordinating among New York City weather conditions, sponsor needs, and celebrities’ schedules.”

Perhaps your brow furrowed slightly while reading that too. Sponsor needs? Weather conditions? What is NBC trying to tell us, exactly? Just announce the pickup already!

NBC insiders say the plan is indeed for the show to return for the franchise’s 14th cycle despite hitting some series-low ratings last season (the finale was only a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49, down 32 percent from last year). Casting is going “very well.” NBC points out it’s not unusual to shoot Celebrity Apprentice this late in the cycle, or to not have an air date yet given the Winter Olympics is coming up first. But make no mistake: A lack of an official announcement that the show will return this late in the year is rather unusual — last year the show started shooting in October, and is usually underway in

Follow-up question: What about Donald Trump?

NBC insiders say it’s indeed safe to assume he will return (if/when New York City’s humidity level and pollen count permits a greenlight announcement). But the executive producer/judge gets better known for his hate-tweets than his business acumen every year, and he has viciously attacked others in the media since last season, including NBC Universal figures (not to mention, you know, the president). See some samples below. It’s impossible to imagine the company choosing this 2013 Donald Trump to be a lead judge for a dog pageant special airing on Bravo if it were a brand new launch; it’s only Trump’s legacy with the Apprentice brand that seems to keep him a part of it. What do you think? Would you be more or less interested in Celebrity Apprentice if NBC got somebody new?