Donald Trump insisted yet again that his continued executive producer credit on The New Celebrity Apprentice will not present any conflicts of interest. In an interview with Chris Wallace on today’s Fox News Sunday, the president-elect defended his arrangements for the Apprentice and his real estate operations by saying he’ll have nothing to do with the management of the businesses, and will instead focus on politics. “This is a calling,” Trump told Wallace. “This is a movement.”
Guests on other Sunday Beltway programs cast their Apprentice votes, of course, mostly, but not always, along partisan lines. The subject got a thorough going-over on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, with RNC chair Reince Priebus (he was also on NBC’s Meet the Press) saying, “Look, he’s not going to be sitting there producing The Apprentice, I can assure you of that. It’s something that he owns, it’s a title that he owns, but I’m telling you he’s going to be 100% focused in the White House. He’s not going to be sitting in the studio acting as the executive producer of The Apprentice. I think that’s Mark Burnett and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
“Weird,” offered Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, agreeing with Newt Gingrich’s prior assessment.
“It’s weird that he wants to be executive producer of a TV show while he’s president of the United States,” she told Stephanopoulos. “He doesn’t need to do that.”
But perhaps most colorful on the subject was Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota Law School professor and the former chief ethics lawyer for Republican President George W. Bush. Painter advised Trump to rid himself of any potential conflicts of interest.
“The president is not an innkeeper,” Painter told Stephanopoulos. “He is not a celebrity talk show host or a reality star host. Let somebody else do those jobs. I think Billy Bush is looking for a job – let him take over The Apprentice.”