Arnold Schwarzenegger is the latest victim of a Donald Trump Twitter attack. The president-elect took time Friday to note that the “Terminator” star was “swamped” in his “Celebrity Apprentice” debut “by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT.”
“So much for being a movie star,” Trump tweeted. “But who cares, he supported Kasich and Hillary.”
Schwarzenegger tweeted back, urging Trump to work as hard for the American people as he did for his TV ratings: “I wish you the best of luck and I hope you’ll work for ALL of the American people as aggressively as you worked for your ratings.”
Schwarzenegger also quoted President Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.”
Trump was right about the ratings, using the comparison he set up. His Jan. 4, 2004, debut on the reality show drew 18.49 million viewers, and Schwarzenegger’s Monday bow as host was seen by 4.95 million. That’s a 73 percent drop, according to the Nielsen company.
But two things are important to note: Television shows almost always fade in popularity with time. And live viewership in general is down in an on-demand world.
The first episode of Trump’s last season on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2015 was seen by 6.81 million — down 63 percent from his own debut 11 years earlier, according to Nielsen. For all television shows, viewership this season is off 23 percent from the 2003-04 season.
Schwarzenegger, the Republican former California governor, did indeed endorse Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the Republican presidential nomination. In October, Schwarzenegger said he would not be voting for Trump, and he urged other Republicans to put country over party. But he did not endorse Clinton or publicly say who he was voting for.
From a political standpoint, Trump’s tweak of Schwarzenegger was understandable.
Business-wise, it seems less so, given that Trump is still listed as an executive producer of “Celebrity Apprentice” and retains a financial stake in the NBC program. So he has an interest in seeing Schwarzenegger succeed, not fail.