In a move that should surprise no one, Arnold Schwarzenegger is making it clear that any (unlikely) future version of The Celebrity Apprentice will not include him.
The host, who subbed in for now-President Donald Trump only to find out later that he was still an executive producer on the show, announced via a Friday statement that he has left the embattled NBC reality show.
Reads the statement from Schwarzenegger, "I loved every second of working with NBC and Mark Burnett. Everyone - form the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department - was a straight 10, and I would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn't have this baggage."
Schwarzenegger is likely getting in front of the inevitable, as future seasons of any Apprentice series seem less and less plausible. On top of the cloud of Trump's lingering involvement, and his very public discussions of the series that solidified his fame, the show's ratings were in the tank. A NBC rep tells The Hollywood Reporter that no decision has been made about the future of the show, but there have been rumblings that longtime staffers have been told it's safe to look for other work.
Even when the new version debuted to middling numbers, NBC chief Bob Greenblatt spoke optimistically about the series - and the possibility of continuing it without the former California governor as host. "We have not really, honestly, thought about the future of the show," he said in January, adding that the Trump profit participation and credit on the broadcast weren't likely a factor in its ratings decline. "The credit issue doesn't reach an audience, really. They're not staying away from the show because he's involved in it, nor are they coming to it because he's involved in it. It's a non-issue."
Schwarzenegger's promotional tour for Celebrity Apprentice was marred by the surprise December news that Trump had retained an EP credit on the Mark Burnett and MGM TV produced series. Just a day after a Trump staffer released a statement saying that the then-president-elect had a "big stake" on the show he originally hosted, Schwarzenegger faced curious reporters at a press conference.
But for all of the hubbub about the unprecedented conflict for a U.S. commander in chief, it was even worse news for NBC - which has actively tried to distance itself from Trump (with the notable exception of his 2015 Saturday Night Live hosting gig) after he announced his run for office almost two years ago.