Arnold Schwarzenegger’s debut as the new boss of NBC’s New Celebrity Apprentice drew soft ratings Monday night without its longtime host and current President-elect Donald Trump.
The season premiere of Celebrity Apprentice drew an average of 4.9 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The outlet notes those numbers are down a significant 35 percent from last year’s Donald Trump-hosted premiere of the show.
NBC did heavy promotion for the new Apprentice, with TV spots highlighting a cigar-chomping, no-nonsense Schwarzenegger poised to take over the boss position played by Trump for 14 seasons. The network also teased Schwarzenegger’s replacement line for Trump’s “You’re fired;” Schwarzenegger’s updated catchphrase, revealed on Monday night’s episode, is “You’re terminated.”
The show also drew some buzz when it was reported that Trump would retain his executive producer credit on the show (though he said he would not have any involvement in it whatsoever).
Neither factor appeared to help the show in the ratings, however, as the 21st season premiere of ABC’s The Bachelor led all network programs Monday night with an average of 6.6 million viewers and a 2.2 rating in the key demo.
The premiere of the Schwarzenegger-led Apprentice — which features celebrity contestants including Boy George, Jon Lovitz, WNBA star Lisa Leslie and Jersey Shore alum Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi — drew mostly poor reviews. In his review of the two-hour first episode, New York Times television critic Mike Hale wrote that Schwarzenegger’s “cautiousness and rigidity make him a poor fit” for the show.
“With Mr. Schwarzenegger, there’s no joy, just a — you’ll pardon the word — robotic professionalism,” Hale wrote. “His rebukes don’t have enough bite, his stares don’t have enough menace.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post‘s Hank Stuever wrote that the new show suffers from the “utterly rote fashion with which it is being conducted” and failed to take advantage of the opportunity to reinvent itself.
The New Celebrity Apprentice airs Monday nights on NBC.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum