On Wednesday afternoon, Variety published a scoop: President-elect Donald Trump will stay on as executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice on NBC, the hit franchise he created with reality TV mogul Mark Burnett from MGM. The show returns to air on January 2—hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Trumps spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed the president-elect “has a big stake in the show.” Trump won’t be involved in actually producing the show, but his fee per episode is likely to be in the low five figures, according to Variety. According to the Hollywood Reporter, this fee will be paid by MGM Television, the studio responsible for the production—not by NBC.
All this is raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest. As the Huffington Post explained:
Trump’s role is rife with potential entanglements. While his paycheck will come from MGM, the program airs on NBC, a major broadcast network with an influential news division (which employs reporters Trump has personally attacked). It’s also the same network that airs Saturday Night Live, a show Trump has criticized on numerous occasions for its unflattering depiction of him. And NBC is owned by Comcast, a corporation that was recently slapped with a hefty fine by the Federal Communications Commission—an entity that will soon be under Trump’s control.
Today, Trump adviser and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN’s New Day to defend the decision. According to Conway, whatever Trump does in his “spare time” is up to him, much in the way that Obama liked to play golf. “Were we so concerned about the hours and hours and hours spent on the golf course of the current president?” Conway said. “I mean presidents have a right to do things in their spare time, in their leisure time.” Watch the entire exchange above.
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Conway: It’s Cool for Trump to Be Apprentice Executive Producer Because Obama Golfed