Back to reality TV: Trump retains Apprentice credit

US President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Dec 6, 2016 during his USA Thank You Tour.
US President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Dec 6, 2016 during his USA Thank You Tour.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - President-elect Donald Trump is to stay on as executive producer on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice when it returns after a two-year absence, the show confirmed on Thursday (Dec 8).

A spokesman told AFP that Mr Trump would retain the producing credit when the series that made the property mogul a household name comes back for a 15th season in the new year with actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger hosting.

Mr Trump's name will appear on screen after Apprentice creator Mark Burnett but before Schwarzenegger for the run of eight episodes produced by MGM Television, trade weekly Variety reported.

The spokesman did not comment on whether the incoming head of state would get a per-episode fee, although Variety said it was likely to be at least in the low five figures.

The announcement comes with Mr Trump seeking to head off criticism that his vast business empire poses an unprecedented conflict of interest for an incoming US president.

The 70-year-old tycoon has promised to set out a plan next week to put aside his "great business in total", although he has not revealed who will take over his multi-billion-dollar global property and luxury branding interests.

Some previous presidents have placed their investments in a blind trust, but they were not required to do so. Mr Trump has said since winning the election in early November that his lawyers believe it unnecessary.

NBC severed its ties with Mr Trump in June 2015, declining to broadcast the Miss USA and Miss Universe beauty pageants that he and NBC co-owned, due to his controversial comments on Mexican immigrants.

Mr Trump had already said he would be leaving The Celebrity Apprentice to pursue his political career several weeks prior.

The programme, a variation on The Apprentice, places well-known figures in competitions that test their business acumen and entrepreneurship, all the while raising money for charity.

A former contestant on The Apprentice was one of several women who came forward during the presidential campaign to accuse Mr Trump of predatory sexual behavior.

Summer Zervos, from season five of the reality TV show, said that after he "fired" her she remained in touch with him, and that he groped her during a 2007 meeting at the Beverly Hills hotel.

Mr Trump denied all allegations of aggressive sexual behaviour, although a now-infamous video tape released by the Washington Post features Mr Trump boasting he got away with grabbing women by the crotch because he is famous.