Donald Trump will continue to hold the title of executive producer for the television show “The Celebrity Apprentice” after taking office, foreshadowing an unorthodox presidency in which the commander in chief has a hand in the world of reality TV.
Such credits in Hollywood often come with a paycheck, though the representative did not disclose whether Trump will be compensated.
The show helped catapult his global celebrity. Trump was given a 50 percent ownership stake in the show and was paid, at the start, $100,000 an episode for hosting. Trump has claimed that he was paid more than $213 million for the reality show over the course of its run.
Ethics experts expressed dismay on Thursday that Trump’s ongoing relationship with the show creates a needless complication, particularly if the president is receiving a paycheck from a major entertainment company. Government ethics officials have said that Trump should divest himself of his private business interests to avoid conflicts of interest in office.
“We need him to be president - full time - and not to have other contractual commitments elsewhere,” said Richard Painter, who served as ethics counsel to President George W. Bush. “He’s testing the limits on everything.”
Norm Eisen, who served as ethics counsel to President Barack Obama, said that Trump will “be tempted, consciously or otherwise, to favor NBC or use the White House to promote this source of revenue.”
“It is one more example of why he must do what every president has done for four decades: divest all his interests into a blind trust or the equivalent,” Eisen said.