Influencer-in-Chief? Trump and ‘The Apprentice’

February 3rd, 2017

President Trump opened his first appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday with a diss at the expense of Arnold Schwarzenegger, his successor host on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” a spinoff of his original show:

They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out. The ratings right went down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster… I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.

Arnold was quick to issue a retort, posting a video on Twitter in which he offered Trump his old job back. In return, the former governor of California said he’d take over the presidency so that “people can finally sleep comfortably again,” tweeting:

It wasn’t the first time Trump tweeted about the show’s flailing ratings or its new celebrity host. After the show premiered on Jan. 2, the then-president elect not so humblebragged:

On Friday, following the prayer breakfast and the Apprentice’s Thursday night show, he kept it going:

And the media is eating it up. The feud between The Donald and The Terminator has spawned headlines such as “There’s a Trump and Schwarzenegger ‘The Apprentice’ Smack Down” and “President Trump Insults Schwarzenegger’s Apprentice Ratings at National Prayer Breakfast(?).” And of course the inevitable #PrayForArnold has ignited the Twittersphere.

What’s behind this feud? Perhaps it’s this: The ratings for the show have indeed been slipping. And as an executive producer of the show — a fact that many media outlets fail to mention in their reporting — Trump has something to gain if ratings improve as he noted in this tweet:

This made us wonder if the tweet storm is really just a free #ad for the show by both the host and ex-host, aka the Influencer-in-Chief. And as such, was it effective?  Not so much. Fortune reported low ratings for the show’s season finale.

Find more of our coverage on Trump here.

This story was updated on 2/14/17.

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