Donald Trump has said he won’t take a salary as president, but there’s another source of income the billionaire president-elect will keep: The paychecks from NBC’s reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump’s spokeswoman confirmed this week that the president-elect will retain his executive producer title and continue taking a “big stake” in the reality show, which he co-produced with super-producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Voice”).
How big? According to industry experts consulted by TheWrap, Trump is likely to make “mid-to-high five figures” per episode for his role as a passive executive producer, which typically involves limited to no work, at least on-set or in post-production. His total pay could wind up topping $1 million for the upcoming season of the new “Celebrity Apprentice” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which premieres Jan. 2. (NBC declined to comment.)
That’s a big improvement over the $400,000 salary earned by the President of the United States.
Trump probably made well in excess of $1 million annually just for the talent side of his deal, as “Apprentice” host, according to a reality TV agent who spoke on condition of anonymity. But he lost that lucrative arrangement when NBC parted ways with him in 2015, as Trump kicked off his White House bid. The executive producer title and fees, however, remained part of Trump’s contract with Burnett and the network — and those aren’t going away.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Schwarzenegger — himself an actor who turned to politics — depicted the arrangement as nothing new or unusual.
“I knew that from the beginning that he’s an executive producer on the show,” he said. “It’s no different than when I was running for governor [of California], my credit on ‘Terminator’ still said ‘Schwarzenegger, and everything stayed the same. And I continued getting the royalties and all that stuff.”
Trump’s deal, hammered out years ago, likely means that the “Apprentice” gravy train will keep rolling for years.
As executive producer, he is entitled to payments on “derivatives” of the show, which means money from international versions of the show, rebroadcasts and licensing for games, apps and the like. While “Apprentice” isn’t nearly the merchandising powerhouse it was 10 or 12 years ago, it could still spit out some serious cash.