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Schwarzenegger, citing ‘baggage,’ will leave ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

John Koblin
Host Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Tyra Banks (C) and Brooke Burke-Charvet (L) participate in a panel for "The New Celebrity Apprentice" in Universal City, California, December 9, 2016.
Danny Moloshok | Reuters

Arnold Schwarzenegger's time as host of NBC's "The Celebrity Apprentice" will be a short one.

The actor — who spent some of his time as host jousting with President Trump — has informed NBC that he will not return. He confirmed the news in a statement.

"I loved every second of working with NBC and Mark Burnett," Mr. Schwarzenegger said, referring to the creator of "The Apprentice," the show that turned Mr. Trump into a reality-TV star. "Everyone — from the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department — was a straight 10, and I would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn't have this baggage."

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Mr. Schwarzenegger told the publication Empire on Friday: "It's not about the show 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!'"

Indeed, the show's ratings this year were bad. It averaged less than four million viewers, and in its final weeks, it had a paltry 0.89 rating among adults under 50, the demographic most important to advertisers.

This was a point that Mr. Trump gleefully underscored in the opening weeks of his presidency.

"The ratings went right down the tubes," Mr. Trump said at a National Prayer Breakfast in early February, with Mr. Burnett in the audience. "Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings."

Mr. Schwarzenegger responded in kind, posting on Twiter a video in which he suggested he and Mr. Trump switch jobs "so people can finally sleep comfortably again." But even that bit of unexpected — and unprecedented — publicity for the show did little to raise its fortunes. Mr. Trump was the original host of "The Apprentice" and retained an executive producer credit for the most recent season.

NBC did not immediately return a request for comment, but Mr. Schwarzenegger's departure is likely to throw the future of the series — already struggling because of its small audience this year — into further doubt.

Watch: Trump's remarks on Arnold's ratings

Trump: Schwarzenegger has been a 'total disaster' on 'Celebrity Apprentice'