While Donald Trump is facing criticism for refusing to give up an Executive Producer credit on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” but stalwart Kellyanne Conway is defending and pivoting as best she can.
While claiming that Barack Obama was always playing golf (one of her token pivot moves), she said that “presidents have a right to do things in their spare time.”
“He’s a very transparent guy. Everyone can see what he’s doing, and the fact is that he is conferring with all types of experts who tell him what he can do and not do as President of the United States,” Conway, a top Trump adviser and his former campaign manager, said on CNN’s “New Day.” “If this is one of the approved activities, then perhaps he will consider staying on.”
Trump’s agreement with the show, first reported by Variety and confirmed by sources at NBC and the Trump campaign, means the president will have an interest in a show aired by a media company that also reports on his presidency — a major conflict of interest for the network.
“Were we so concerned about the hours and hours and hours spent on the golf course of the current president? I mean presidents have a right to do things in their spare time, in their leisure time,” Conway argued.
The former Trump campaign manager said that the President-elect’s “work is his work and work his hobby,” adding that his “preferred time is with his family, but it’s followed very closely behind with his work.”
Donald Trump is gone from the boardroom of NBC’s reboot of “Celebrity Apprentice, ” but he’s kept a business connection to the reality show.
President-elect Trump has an executive producer credit on “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” said Clare Anne Darragh, a spokesman for “Apprentice” creator Mark Burnett. She declined further comment on Trump’s participation in the show that taped last February.
Trump’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The series debuts Jan. 2 with Arnold Schwarzenegger replacing Trump as host. Schwarzenegger is an executive producer on the new show, as Trump was on the original.
Trump’s continued stake in a TV series is yet another unusual aspect of the election of a businessman and reality star to the presidency. Questions have been raised on how his extensive holdings may intersect with his actions as president.
Trump has tweeted that he will disclose plans on Dec. 15 to “take me completely out of business operations” without detailing what that means. He previously said that he plans to hand over management of his business to three of his adult children.
That falls short of what some government ethics experts are pushing him for, which is that he sell his assets and put the money in a “blind trust” overseen by an independent manager not related to him.
In TV, a producer’s tasks can range widely, but the credit also can be given as a so-called vanity perk and for compensation without actively working on a project. Trade publication Variety first reported he had retained the title.
NBC, which declined comment Thursday, previously faced scrutiny over its business dealings with Trump, which included beauty pageant telecasts as well as “Apprentice.”
In July 2015, NBC said it was severing its business ties to Trump following his claims that many undocumented Mexicans immigrants are criminals and rapists. The network licenses “New Celebrity Apprentice” from MGM, which produces it.
Burnett, a mega-producer whose other programs include “Survivor” and “The Voice,” also answered for his Trump relationship. He released a statement last October distancing himself and his wife, actress Roma Downey, from the GOP contender.
“I am not now and have never been a supporter of Donald Trump’s candidacy. I am NOT “Pro-Trump.” Further, my wife and I reject the hatred, division and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign,” said Burnett, who in 2015 was named president of MGM Television and Digital Group.
The statement followed pressure on Burnett and MGM to make public “Apprentice” outtakes after a media report that, during the show’s production, Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexually tinged comments. That report was followed the release of an “Access Hollywood” audio tape with graphic Trump comments.
MGM said in October that it, not Burnett, owns “The Apprentice” and would honor confidentiality and artist’s rights agreements in regard to “Apprentice.” No outtakes were released.