With Donald Trump’s explosion on the political scene, becoming the Republican nominee for president of the United States, how much of his rise to prominence is due to popularity gained from his reality shows “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice”?
That’s a question NBC, which aired the show and will relaunch it in January with Arnold Schwarzenegger as host, is asking themselves as the election draws near.
“We are happy to have a show that was doing really well with a guy that was a big TV star. It’s impossible to predict where it goes from there,” Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said at the summer TV press tour. “I think it surprised all of us that he would want to do this, but I guess that’s what great about this country.”
But even Greenblatt can’t dispute that “The Apprentice” raised Trump’s presence in the spotlight. “I think he’s been a prominent figure so many years that it’s not surprising that he would embark on this kind of journey,” he says. “But it is interesting that he did that kind of show for so long and now he’s on the national stage like he is.”
Still, Greenblatt doesn’t see “much of a correlation” between Trump hosting a reality show and running for commander-in-chief.
What if his run for president doesn’t work out, though? Would Trump be welcomed back at NBC with open arms?
“I have no idea. I have no idea what our response would be. With him, we’re taking it one day at a time and seeing where he ends up and sort of watching this unfold like all of you,” Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, adds. “We’re not involved in his life and we’ll evaluate these things as they come up in the future.”
As for whether Trump or his opponent Hillary Clinton will appear on the upcoming season of “Saturday Night Live” — the former hosted in November 2015 — Salke says there are currently no plans in the works to her knowledge.
“Not right now, that I’m aware of, but that’s not my jurisdiction,” she says. “So I’m not going to speak on behalf of them.”