Arnold Schwarzenegger is not returning to Celebrity Apprentice, he announced to NBC on Friday, citing the show's "baggage."
President Donald Trump, the show's former star and an executive producer, on Saturday claimed Schwarzenneger did not leave voluntarily, but was "fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me."
In turn, Schwarzenegger suggested Trump hire "a new joke writer and a fact checker."
This all comes after Trump has been criticizing Schwarzenegger's ratings for months. At the National Prayer Breakfast in February, Trump asked religious leaders to pray for Schwarzenegger "for those ratings."
Here's what Trump said:
He’s a special, special friend, Mark Burnett, for the wonderful introduction. So true, so true. I said to the agent, I’m sorry. The only thing wrong, I actually got on the phone, fired him myself, because he said you don’t want to do it, it’ll never work, it’ll never, ever, work, you don’t want to do it. I said, listen. But I really fired him after it became the number one show. It became so successful, and he wanted a commission … that’s what I really said. But we had tremendous success on The Apprentice, and when I ran for president, I had to leave the show. That’s when I knew for sure I was doing it. And 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. It’s been a total disaster. And Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings, okay? But we’ve have had an amazing life together, the last 14, 15 years. An outstanding man, and thank you very much for introducing me. Appreciate it. It’s a great honor.
And in response, Schwarzenegger posted a video suggesting he and Trump switch jobs:
Schwarzenegger recently told Empire magazine that Trump as to blame for the lagging ratings, saying, "When people found out that Trump was still involved as executive producer and was still receiving money from the show, then half the people [started] boycotting it."
Talking to Schwarzenegger about his role in upcoming drama Aftermath, Empire mentioned the ailing reality show and a recent report by The Wrap that both viewers and sponsors have been departing in droves. Schwarzenegger confirmed the story and claimed that Donald Trump is to blame.
"It's not about the show," he explained. "because everyone I ran into came up to me and said 'I love the show... but I turned it off because as soon as I read Trump's name I'm outta there!'"
"NBC did everything they could to promote the show and [producer] Mark Burnett did a fantastic job. No one really knew that this was going to happen and I think that everyone was caught off guard."
"When people found out that Trump was still involved as executive producer and was still receiving money from the show, then half the people [started] boycotting it."
Social media campaign #grabyourwallet appears to have been a factor, imploring consumers and sponsors alike to ditch Celebrity Apprentice in direct response to the US President's continued involvement. The boycott's success may well be reflected in the show's viewing figures and the hasty retreat of commercial backers.
"Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline." Said Schwarzenegger. "With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don't want to participate as a spectator or as a sponsor or in any other way support the show. It's a very divisive period now and I think this show got caught up in all that division."
Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.