Entertainment & Arts

Donald Trump to stay as Apprentice executive producer

Donald Trump promoting The Apprentice in 2006 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Donald Trump, pictured in 2006, has stepped down as host of The Apprentice

Donald Trump is to remain as an executive producer on the new series of reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice after becoming US president.

Mr Trump helped create the show and starred on it until 2015, when his political career took over.

But he will keep an executive producer credit when the new series, which is owned by MGM and aired by NBC, begins in January with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

However, his involvement has raised questions about conflict of interest.

Mr Trump will be sworn in as US president on 20 January, 18 days after the new series begins.

Variety magazine, which first reported the story, said he would be paid at least "in the low five-figures" per episode. MGM declined to comment on the financial arrangements.

The president-elect's spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said: "Mr Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken over from Mr Trump as host

Some observers have questioned whether the connection will affect the reporting on Mr Trump by NBC's news division.

In June 2015, NBC said it had ended its business relationship with Mr Trump because of "derogatory statements" he made about immigrants during his presidential campaign.

After news of Mr Trump's continued link with the show emerged, the liberal Media Matters blog wrote: "NBC will invite scepticism into how NBC and MSNBC can fairly cover the sitting president when there is a financial incentive to protect his reputation and the ratings of the Celebrity Apprentice.

"Furthermore, Trump and NBC should address the conflict of interest concerns raised by the fact advertisers may help to personally enrich President-elect Donald Trump by purchasing ads during Celebrity Apprentice."

However, the new series was recorded in February, before NBC severed its ties with Mr Trump and before his election.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Culture Club singer Boy George is among the contestants in the new series

Mr Trump's supporters have defended the president-elect, comparing his Apprentice credit to royalties received by Barack Obama from his books.

An unofficial Twitter account for Republicans in Tennessee wrote: "Media freak out about Trump remaining an EP for Celebrity Apprentice. But hasn't Obama collected millions in book royalties as president?"

Mr Trump is due to hold a press conference next week outlining how he plans to leave his business "in total in order to fully focus on running the country."

The new series of Celebrity Apprentice features stars including singer Boy George, Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil and Jersey Shore personality Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.

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