Update with more comments from NBC panel: “People in the political world are looking for somebody who speaks their mind regardless of anything else. And he does that,” NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt said of former Celebrity Apprentice star/current GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump today at TCA Summer Press Tour.
The comments came as Greenblatt announced that Celebrity Apprentice will not air during the upcoming season, but will return for the 2016-17 season with a new host.
“Whether you agree with anything he says, he says it without any kind of filter,” Greenblatt said of Trump’s appeal. “You also get he sense he doesn’t have a big retinue of people who are messaging him and handling him and…there’s something refreshing about that,” Greenblatt acknowledged.
“I do believe that at a certain point you have to also look at the message, and make your own decisions, draw your own conclusions. But the world likes a star – and he’s a star.”
Asked about his working relationship with Trump on the show and the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, Greenblatt responded, “He is a lovely guy. He was very much of a collaborator, and worked with us closely on Celebrity Apprentice… and is a really effusive guy,” Greenblatt said. “We weren’t in any adversarial position. It was congenial, a really great relationship.”
But when asked whether he announced Celebrity Apprentice would not come back until the 2016-17 TV season in hope that Trump could return to host, Greenblatt responded, emphatically, “Absolutely not.”
“We’re looking for a host of that show who is going to make noise and has a big personality,” Greenblatt said of the series he’d announced will not be back this coming season as the network seeks its Trump replacement.
Asked if NBC would take Trump campaign ads, Greenblatt said this morning he did not know if “somebody who’s running for president and might possibly be the next leader of the free world” would be “completely banned” from the network, adding he had no idea if Trump “might want to be in business with us” in any form.
“I don’t know that we’ve even thought beyond The Apprentice and the pageant businesses,” the exec said.
“For now we’re sort of separated,” Greenblatt said of their relationship, after telling reporters NBC is “almost done with” the process of getting out of its co-ownership of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants with Trump.
Before taking questions from reporters, Greenblatt had announced that, “due to circumstances everyone here is aware of regarding the host … we will not be producing a new edition” of Celebrity Apprentice for this season,” but it will be back for the 2016-17 season “with a new host.” They’ve been overwhelmed with candidates to take Trump’s place as host of the show, but some of the names that have been cited in the press as likely replacements “simply are not true,” he added. As soon as NBC and producer Mark Burnett settle on someone, “we will get word out and something tells me that will be big news,” Greenblatt forecast.
In June, NBC said it was done with Trump as a result of his controversial campaign-announcement comments about immigrants coming over the Mexico border. NBC dumped the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant broadcasts and said it was taking steps to end its co-ownership with Trump on the franchises. Trump, in turn, said he’d see NBC in court.
“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” the company said then. “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump,” the company said back then. “To that end, the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which are part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump, will no longer air on NBC. In addition, as Mr. Trump has already indicated, he will not be participating in Celebrity Apprentice on NBC.”