The stakes got higher on The New Celebrity Apprentice when news hit yesterday that President-elect Donald Trump will retain his executive producer tag on the new iteration that premieres January 2 on NBC. During a press junket today for the upcoming eighth season, there were plenty of questions on Trump’s involvement that mostly were cleverly dodged by new host Arnold Schwarzenegger.

THE NEW CELEBRITY APPRENTICE -- "Press Junket" -- Pictured: (l-r) Tyra Banks, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrick Knapp Schwarzenegger -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)
THE NEW CELEBRITY APPRENTICE — “Press Junket” — Pictured: (l-r) Tyra Banks, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrick Knapp Schwarzenegger — (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)
NBC

When asked how he felt about Trump’s participation and concern with the public’s reaction, the former California governor said: “I knew from the beginning that he is an executive producer on the show. … It’s no different than when I was running for governor and became governor. My credit in starring in Terminator still said Schwarzenegger, and everything stayed the same. I continued getting the royalties and all that.”

On if he felt the Trump news would affect viewership: “People don’t judge you by your politics in the end,” Schwarzenegger responded, speaking on his experience as a politician and global movie star. “People went to go see my movies because there were good movies. It was nothing to do with politics.” He felt that Celebrity Apprentice should not be judged with a political eye “because it is not a political show, it is entertainment.”

Schwarzenegger was on his in when fielding Trump questions; executive producer Mark Burnett was absent without explanation despite his name being included on the roster in the press release. Earlier this week, Burnett met with Trump to go over inauguration plans.

The former governor remained neutral to the topic of Trump’s divisive campaign and instead lauded him for his work on Celebrity Apprentice. “[Trump] did a great job, that’s why I was attracted to the show. …  I hope I can match up to what he has done and continue on with a great successful show. In fact, I’m counting out all of you [press] to really promote the show because I want to have my ratings a little higher than his was … but don’t tell him that,” he zinged.

Schwarzenegger said he spoke to Trump after the election “to wish him luck” and that hoped for a successful presidency, urging constituents to give him a chance. “You can’t judge anything after one month,” the new host said of the old one. “Let’s watch him go and get started before we start judging.”