‘The Apprentice’ Reveals Fresh Conflict Of Interest For Trump

As if the incoming administration couldn’t be any more of an American fever dream, Variety reported Thursday that Donald Trump will continue to collect a paycheck from the reality TV show that launched him to national notoriety, The Apprentice. Trump is still employed by NBC as an executive producer of the show. The Apprentice will relaunch in January after a 2-year hiatus, starring former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Guvernator will be The Apprentice while The Donald will be The President. Welcome to post-reality.

Variety apparently tried but couldn’t squeeze a solid figure out of NBC or incoming White House people as to how much Donald will actually be making. But their best estimate was,

“It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum.”

The arrangement raises new conflict of interest questions about Trump’s administration. How can he use the bully pulpit of the presidency in an impartial way when he will also be reported on by a network that is also paying him as an executive producer? It’s just one of his opaque list of business interests that could seriously undermine his ability to serve as president in an uncompromised way.

Trump last starred in an episode of the show as recently as February, 2015. He segued directly from an acting role as a no-nonsense business executive on reality TV to an American right wing populist demagogue, hellbent on privatizing everything he can get his cocktail hot dog fingers on with a team of retired generals who traffic in wacko conspiracy theories.

Last summer, NBC cut ties with Trump after he slandered Mexican immigrants as rapists, criminals, and murderers. In October, after an Access Hollywood video showed Trump clearly bragging about committing sexual assault, staffers for The Apprentice leaked hints to the media that there was a trove of raw footage of Trump being horribly crass backstage on the show’s set. One rumor held that there was footage of Trump dropping an N-bomb.

Trump’s partner and co-producer for The Apprentice, Mark Burnett, publicly distanced himself from Trump and his rhetoric at the height of the campaign. However, he also threatened to sue his staff if they leaked any damning footage of Trump. Burnett met up with Trump this week, Variety reported. Burnett has been brought into the transition to give Trump’s inauguration the old Hollywood glam treatment. The Apprentice really is Trump’s “executive experience” for becoming The President.

Image by Amanda Edwards, Getty Images Entertainment

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