Blaming Trump and his 'baggage,' Schwarzenegger bails on 'Celebrity Apprentice'

The first post-Donald Trump iteration of “The Celebrity Apprentice” needs a new star. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Friday that he will not be returning to the show.

The unscripted series, which still counts President Trump as an executive producer, had flagged in the ratings in its first season without its former star. That had not gone unnoticed by the president, who noted during a prayer breakfast event last month that the series’ ratings had “been a total disaster.” Trump then added with a laugh, “I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.”

The series didn’t exactly roar out of the gate when it debuted on Jan. 2, just a few weeks before Trump’s inauguration. It premiered with just under 5 million viewers, which marked a 27% drop from the previous season under Trump. The season finale, which aired on Feb. 13, finished last in its time slot among the four major broadcast networks.

The ratings difficulties were not lost on Schwarzenegger, who cited Trump as a reason for the show’s decline in viewers.

“When people found out Trump was still involved as executive producer and was still receiving money from the show, then half the people [started] boycotting it,” he told Empire magazine.

“I loved every second of working with NBC and [series creator] Mark Burnett,” the former California governor said in a statement. “I would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn’t have this baggage.”

Plans for the next season of the reality TV franchise have yet to be announced.

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chris.barton@latimes.com

Twitter: @chrisbarton

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