Schwarzenegger leaves ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ blames Trump for ratings drop

Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Friday that he will not be returning for another season of “Celebrity Apprentice” – and he blamed Donald Trump for the show’s declining ratings.

Schwarzenegger informed NBC of his decision Friday, and confirmed the news in a statement sent by his representative to the Washington Post:

“I loved every second of working with NBC and Mark Burnett,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said, referring to the creator of “The Apprentice.” “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.”

This “baggage,” he clarified in an interview with Empire magazine, referred to the show’s continued association with Trump.

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“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,” Schwarzenegger said in that interview. “It’s a very divisive period now and I think this show got caught up in all that division.”

Despite NBC’s best efforts to promote the show, “when people found out that Trump was still involved as executive producer and was still receiving money from the show, then half the people [started] boycotting it,” Schwarzenegger told Empire.

The actor-turned-former California governor has been embroiled in a growing public feud with Trump since January, when the then-president-elect took to Twitter to blame Schwarzenegger for the show’s suffering ratings, and mocked him for supporting Trump’s political rivals:

“Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got “swamped” (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT. So much for….”

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“being a movie star-and that was season 1 compared to season 14. Now compare him to my season 1. But who cares, he supported Kasich & Hillary”

Schwarzenegger swiftly struck back.

“There’s nothing more important than the people’s work”

“I wish you the best of luck and I hope you’ll work for ALL of the American people as aggressively as you worked for your ratings.”

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NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.