Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” has topped NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” with Arnold Schwarzenegger for three-straight weeks after trumping the president’s former show on Monday night.
Monday night’s edition of “Factor” averaged 4.5 million in total viewers, compared to 3.5 million viewers for “Celebrity Apprentice.” The episode featured an exclusive interview with Trump, but O’Reilly has shown he doesn’t need POTUS to beat Schwarzenegger.
On Jan. 30, O’Reilly averaged 4.4 million viewers compared to 3.7 million for “Apprentice.” The Fox News veteran also prevailed on Jan. 23, when he averaged 4.97 million viewers compared to 3.9 million for the NBC reality program. Trump did not appear on those episodes of “Factor,” which finished 2016 as the most-watched show on cable news.
The two programs are direct competitors on Monday night at 8 p.m. ET, but have more in common than just when they air. Trump was famously the original host of “Apprentice,” and has taken shots at Schwarzenegger for the show’s ratings decline with its new host.
Last week, Trump used his time speaking at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast to mock the former governor of California despite the fact that he remains an executive producer on “The Apprentice.”
“When I ran for president, I had to leave the show,” Trump said. “They hired a big, big movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger to take my place and we know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes.”
Meanwhile, O’Reilly’s ties to Trump go way back, and they often appeared at Yankee Stadium together to watch baseball before the former reality star decided to run for president. Despite their friendship, O’Reilly hasn’t shown favoritism and was recently critical of the way the Trump administration rolled out the controversial travel ban against citizens of several Muslim-majority nations.
As Trump continues to mock Schwarzenegger and call non-Fox News media the “opposition party,” it is fair to wonder who POTUS would root for on a weekly basis. Despite a financial incentive to want “Apprentice” to prevail, we have a feeling he would prefer O’Reilly’s streak to continue.