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Arnold Schwarzenegger is leaving The Celebrity Apprentice. He blames President Trump.

“With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste,” he told Empire magazine.

The Celebrity Apprentice
Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in the one and only season of The Celebrity Apprentice he hosted.
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

Arnold Schwarzenegger will no longer host The Celebrity Apprentice — if the show continues at all — due to the “baggage” associated with the show’s connection to President Donald Trump.

That’s what he revealed to Empire magazine in an interview published today.

“Even if asked [to do it again], I would decline,” Schwarzenegger told Empire. “With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don't want to participate as a spectator or as a sponsor or in any other way support the show. It's a very divisive period now and I think this show got caught up in all that division."

Schwarzenegger followed up on his Empire interview with a statement released to the press praising those who worked on the show:

I loved every second of working with NBC and Mark Burnett. Everyone — from the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department — was a straight 10, and I would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn't have this baggage.

Trump has mocked Schwarzenegger’s Celebrity Apprentice ratings publicly a couple of times, first on Twitter in early January and then at the National Prayer Breakfast in February. (Yep. You read that correctly.)

Schwarzenegger’s ratings were indeed down from Trump’s final season hosting the show (which aired in 2015), but the slide was largely comparable to most shows’ slides between 2015 and 2017.

With time-shifted viewership, the show averaged 4.9 million viewers per episode — not all that great, but better than plenty of shows. That audience skewed a little older than broadcast TV typically likes. Perhaps more importantly to NBC, however, the Wrap reported that The Celebrity Apprentice had lost more than half its sponsors because of the program’s affiliation with Trump. (The president remained an executive producer on the program.)

The show likely won’t be back — the ratings are low enough that it’s probably not worth it for NBC to put up with the headache of the president’s involvement — and the Hollywood Reporter reports that its staffers have been okayed to begin looking for other work (a typical sign of impending cancellation). Still, Celebrity Apprentice is cheap enough to produce that an unexpected renewal wouldn’t be a total surprise.

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