According to Variety, President-elect Donald Trump will retain an executive producer credit on the new “Celebrity Apprentice,” which will feature Arnold Schwarzenegger:
It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum. NBC has ordered eight episodes of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC.
Variety pushes the idea that Trump’s executive producer credit is “another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump’s segue from private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief.”
In order to appear remotely fair, Variety notes that President Obama earned royalties for his third book while acting as Commander in Chief. However, they summarily dismiss any wrongdoing by stating that Obama’s didn’t profit from his royalties:
In the case of President Obama’s 2010 book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,” his profits from the Alfred A. Knopf publication were donated to a charity supporting the children of disabled veterans.
(Hold for fawning applause)
While Variety is quick to mention Obama donating the profits from his latest book to charity, they fail to mention the royalties he generated–and kept–from his first two books while he was president.
According to Forbes:
The President’s hefty book royalties from “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams From My Father,” a big source of his wealth, are decreasing at a faster rate than we had estimated. In 2009, Obama’s book sales peaked and he grossed nearly $5.7 million, according to his income tax statement; by 2010, gross book revenues had dropped to $1.6 million.
While there are numerous and legitimate conflict of interest concerns regarding Donald Trump’s business empire, this one seems like a stretch. That being said, with the recent Carrier deal, Trump has shown a capacity to engage in cronyism. It’s possible that the president-elect could pressure certain companies into participating with “Celebrity Apprentice” via coercion, or in exchange for favors. However, such a move would be wildly risky, and come with a negligible financial benefit.
Americans should train their focus on more pertinent issues, such as the president-elect’s Cabinet picks and policy decisions. Conflicts of interest are certainly important, but Donald Trump’s executive producer credit seems like a nothing-burger.