Now, this is a different kind of political revolving door.
As Donald Trump, the first Celebrity Apprentice host, heads to the Oval Office, his successor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is six years removed from serving as California’s governor.
Schwarzenegger, an immigrant bodybuilding champ who became a top movie star, will preside over The New Celebrity Apprentice (Jan. 2, 8 ET/PT), as NBChas retitled the 15th edition of the business competition series, and the eighth featuring famous contestants.
Schwarzenegger, who returned to acting after exiting politics in 2011, and the 16 celebrity competitors met with reporters last January in Los Angeles just before the filming started.
The new host, who shares his predecessor’s savvy promotional sense, wouldn’t comment on the then-presidential candidate, “because that will be the news tomorrow.” Instead, he wanted to focus on his latest role.
NBC severed ties with Trump in 2015 after he made disparaging remarks regarding Mexican immigrants, though he hosted Saturday Night Live later that year and remains credited an executive producer of the reality series.
And Celebrity Apprentice drew controversy during the presidential campaign.
After a 2005 Access Hollywood clip surfaced, in which Trump made sexist and predatory remarks in a conversation with then-host Billy Bush, reporters requested unedited Apprentice tapes alleged to contain off-color remarks. Executive producer Mark Burnett, who wouldn’t confirm or deny the existence of the remarks, said he couldn’t release any tapes because he didn’t have control of them.
Asked in January if he had a signature dismissal line, à la Trump’s ‘You’re fired,’ the star of True Lies, Predator and the Terminator films said he had plenty of good choices from his famous roles, including “Hasta la vista, Baby,” “Get to the Chopper” and an altered version of “I’ll be back”: “You won’t be back!”
“There are so many ideas,” Schwarzenegger said, suggesting his choice would remain a secret until the premiere.
The new host also has a new setting in Los Angeles’ so-called Silicon Beach,home to many high-tech firms.
“This is where I started in Gold’s Gym,” Schwarzenegger said, recalling his bodybuilding days.
This season’s competitors include boxing champ Laila Ali; actress and host Brooke Burke-Charvet; NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson; singer Boy George; American Ninja Warrior host Matt Iseman; TV personality Carrie Keagan; stylist and fashion designer Carson Kressley; WNBA star Lisa Leslie; comedian Jon Lovitz; Mötley Crüesinger Vince Neil; Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi; Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Kyle Richards; former UFC star Chael Sonnen; Dish Nation co-host Porsha Williams; Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams; and singer Carnie Wilson.
Iseman joked about Schwarzenegger’s star power. “The hardest part for me so far is not quoting Arnold to Arnold,” he said before the competition began.
Schwarzenegger has long been involved in business. He said he sold ice cream as a 10-year-old in his native Austria, and made his first $1 million from a construction business, not entertainment.
“I always had a business mind,” he said, along with the curiosity to try new projects. “I’ve done so many different things, and I’m always looking for challenges.”
by Bill Keveney