Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Controversial Season of The Apprentice

When it was announced that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be taking over as the host of The Apprentice, everyone knew it would be an interesting and possibly controversial season. With his larger-than-life personality and successful career in both bodybuilding and politics, Schwarzenegger seemed like a perfect fit for the reality TV show created by Donald Trump. However, what unfolded during the season shocked both fans and critics alike.

The Apprentice: A Brief Overview

Before we dive into the details of Schwarzenegger’s season, let’s take a moment to understand the show itself. The Apprentice is a reality television series that first aired in 2004. Created by Donald Trump, it features a group of contestants competing for a chance to work for one of Trump’s companies.

Each episode presents a new task, which typically involves the contestants working together in teams to complete a business-related challenge. At the end of each episode, Trump evaluates the teams’ performances and decides who should be fired. The ultimate goal is to win Trump’s favor and secure a job opportunity.

The Shift to Arnold Schwarzenegger

After 14 successful seasons with Donald Trump at the helm, the show underwent a major change. With Trump’s decision to focus on his presidential campaign in 2015, NBC had to find a replacement. That’s when they turned to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger, known for his roles in iconic movies like The Terminator series, was undoubtedly a high-profile choice. As his career had spanned bodybuilding, acting, and politics, he brought a unique set of skills and experiences to the hosting role.

His appointment was not without controversy, though. Many couldn’t help but compare Schwarzenegger’s celebrity status to Trump’s, which raised concerns about the show’s focus shifting from business to entertainment. Others worried about Schwarzenegger’s past and whether his political background would overshadow the premise of the show.

The Apprentice Season with Schwarzenegger

The first and only season of The Apprentice with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the host premiered in January 2017. From the very beginning, it became clear that this season would be different.

While the show maintained its format of business challenges and boardroom firings, Schwarzenegger brought his unique style to the table. His strong presence and catchphrases, such as “You’re terminated!” and “Hasta la vista, baby!”, injected a level of theatricality into the proceedings, reminiscent of his action movie background.

However, perhaps the most significant way in which Schwarzenegger’s season deviated from the previous ones was in the rocky relationship between the host and the show’s former executive producer, Donald Trump.

Throughout the season, Trump repeatedly criticized Schwarzenegger’s performance as host, both publicly and on social media. This created an uncomfortable dynamic, with many viewers wondering why Trump, as the show’s creator, was so eager to undermine his successor.

Controversy and Low Ratings

The conflicts between Donald Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger were not the only challenges faced by the show. The Apprentice had been losing steam in recent years, and the switch to a new host didn’t seem to revitalize the franchise.

One of the major reasons for the decline in popularity was undoubtedly the association between the show and Donald Trump’s controversial presidential campaign. As Trump became more polarizing in the public eye, many viewers started to distance themselves from anything related to him, including The Apprentice.

Furthermore, Schwarzenegger’s take on the show received mixed reviews. Some appreciated his charisma and the energy he brought, while others felt that his style didn’t match the serious tone required for a business-oriented competition.

The ratings reflected these challenges. Throughout Season 15, The Apprentice experienced its lowest viewership numbers to date. The combination of Trump’s political baggage, the clash between him and Schwarzenegger, and the mixed reception of the new host led to a lackluster season that failed to capture audiences as it had in the past.

Lessons Learned and Impact

Despite the controversy and disappointing ratings, the season with Arnold Schwarzenegger as host did have some positive effects. It forced the show’s producers to rethink their formula and consider new approaches for potential future seasons.

The clash between Trump and Schwarzenegger, while uncomfortable for those involved, generated significant media attention. This led to increased public awareness of the show and allowed it to remain part of the cultural conversation, albeit for different reasons than in the past.

The season also highlighted the importance of finding the right host to carry the show’s legacy. Schwarzenegger’s brief tenure served as a reminder of the unique presence Donald Trump had brought to The Apprentice, and how difficult it was to replicate that success.


Arnold Schwarzenegger’s season of The Apprentice will always be remembered as a unique and somewhat controversial chapter in the show’s history. As the successor to Donald Trump, Schwarzenegger faced immense pressure to maintain the franchise’s success.

While his hosting style and clashes with Trump made for interesting headlines, the overall reception of the season was lackluster. Ultimately, it showed the challenges of replacing a larger-than-life figure like Trump and the enduring impact he had on the show he created.

As we look to the future of The Apprentice, it remains to be seen if the show can regain its former glory. One thing is for certain, though: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s time as host left an indelible mark on the series and will forever be part of its storied history.

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