Trump lashed out first. While speaking at the White House, he said that Schwarzenegger had “died” at NBC, after taking over reality competition The Apprentice from him.
“MSNBC, they’re stone cold crazy,” Trump said. “I made them a lot of money with The Apprentice, and I gave them a top show when they were dying on NBC. But they don’t like me too much. They wanted a big extension. They used Arnold Schwarzenegger instead. Big movie star. You know what? He died. He died. I was there 12 years, 14 seasons and then they pick a movie actor and he dies on us.”
The former governor and Predator star didn’t take kindly to Trump’s words. In response, he wrote, “I’m still here. Want to compare tax returns, @realDonaldTrump?”
The reference to Trump’s tax returns is noteworthy, because he is the only president since Richard Nixon who hasn’t released them. On July 2, Democrats from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means sued Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., over the issue.
Trump starred on The Apprentice from January 2004 to February 2015. The network announced that it was cutting ties with the then-presidential candidate after he made derogatory comments about immigrants. However, Trump had already said he planned to leave the show and run for president.
Schwarzenegger hosted a revived version of The Apprentice for a single season in 2017. When he left, he blamed Trump’s longtime association with the franchise.
“It’s not about the show,” Schwarzenegger told Empire in March 2017, “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.”
Schwarzenegger cited boycotts of the show because of Trump’s credit as an executive producer.
Ratings for The Apprentice declined steadily after its blockbuster first season, when it ranked as one of the top 10 most popular shows on TV.
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