Trump Will Keep Making Money Off 'The Apprentice,' and NBC Will Have a Business Deal With a President It Covers

Donald Trump isn’t letting his job as president force him to stop taking checks from his old job as executive producer of the reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.” Despite reportedly being so unprepared for the presidency that President Obama has to give him extra guidance on what the position entails, Trump will keep his role on the NBC show, for which he will be paid an undisclosed per-episode fee. Variety, which originally broke the story, suggests the president-elect will make a minimum of five figures per episode. 

Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” connection is yet another potential conflict of interest for Trump, who has ties to 500 businesses. The president-elect has still not provided a clear plan for how he will remove himself from his many business holdings. He tweeted in November that “legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations,” but considering his frequent lies and broken promises, it’s anyone’s guess if that will actually happen.

There are multiple problems with this arrangement, namely that Trump should probably focus on presidenting instead of trying to hold down multiple gigs. Campaign mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway suggested it’s no biggie that Trump, who has shown a startling lack of understanding around key policy points, will be keeping his reality TV role because "presidents have a right to do things in their spare time." That means one of the least qualified and unprepared president-elects of all time has no plans to pretend he’s focused on developing competency at his job. He’ll be doing president stuff here and there, but seems to plan on having a lot of spare time for other profitable and fame-boosting projects.

The deal also suggests that NBC, which has a news department that covers politics, sees no issue with continuing a financial relationship that may taint its reportage related to the Trump presidency. The network—which claimed to have severed ties with Trump after he launched his racist and xenophobic campaign last year—will have difficulty claiming impartiality considering it has a joint business venture with a president who will often be a part of its news.

Variety reports that the new “Celebrity Apprentice” (with Arnold Schwarzenegger taking on the role once filled by Trump) will be sponsored by Trident gum, Welch’s and Carnival Cruise Line. You may want to make note of the companies throwing financial backing into this whole problematic endeavor.

During the election, there were rumors of forthcoming leaks of videos depicting Trump doing and saying things that would do yet more damage to his image and potentially affect the outcome of the election. After the leak of the 2005 footage in which Trump bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy,” Bill Pruitt, producer of the first two seasons of “The Apprentice,” tweeted, “I assure you: when it comes to the #trumptapes there are far worse. #justthebegininng.” Fox News chief national correspondent Ed Henry said he had been told—by Ben Carson, no less—that there were “more revelations coming: ‘They have have more things & they will drip them out.’” There’s no way to be certain, but perhaps this deal offers some insight into why those tapes never came to light. 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.