President-elect will not be actively involved in NBC series moving forward

By James Hibberd
Updated December 10, 2016 at 02:44 PM EST
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Credit: Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic

Donald Trump is slamming reports about his ongoing Celebrity Apprentice producing credit as “fake news.”

Tweeting early Saturday morning, the president-elect criticized stories that made it sound as if he will be actively involved in the reality hit going into its 15th season on NBC. As first reported on Thursday, Trump is retaining his executive producer credit on the show he departed.

“I have NOTHING to do with The Apprentice except for fact that I conceived it with [Mark Burnett] & have a big stake in it. Will devote ZERO TIME!” he wrote. The president-elect added in a second tweet, “Reports by CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are rediculous [sic] & untrue — FAKE NEWS!”

Trump later deleted that follow-up tweet (screenshot above), and reposted it with the correct spelling of “ridiculous.”

EW’s initial story on the matter actually made it clear that Trump wasn’t likely to have any creative involvement on the show. Typically when a founding executive producer exits a TV show, they retain their credit and residuals even while having no active involvement — so Trump keeping this credit is not unusual at all for a producer. It’s only raising an eyebrow in this case because the president-elect is under some pressure to divest in any business enterprise that could be seen as a conflict of interest while he’s in the White House.

The idea Trump might continue working on the show while he’s president, however, was actually suggested by his own prominent spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, who inspired a flurry of headlines on Friday, including on EW, when she told CNN, “The fact is, he is conferring with all kinds of experts to tell him what he is allowed to do and not to do as the President of the United States. And if this is one of the approved activities, then perhaps he’ll consider staying on … Were we so concerned about the hours and hours and hours spent on the golf course of the current president? Presidents have the right to do things in their spare time or their leisure time. Nobody objects to that.”

Celebrity Apprentice returns Jan. 2 after two years off the air, with Arnold Schwarzenegger taking over the boardroom.

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