“Will I say, ‘You’re fired’ or ‘You’re terminated’?”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, host of The New Celebrity Apprentice, on why you should expect fireworks
“Will I say, ‘You’re fired’ or ‘You’re terminated’?”

Ilustration by Marcus Butt

I’ve always watched The Celebrity Apprentice, and always thought it was a winning formula. So when [former host] Donald Trump announced he was running for President, of course I showed interest. The producer, Mark Burnett, called to hear my thoughts, and he was pretty much sold on the idea straight away.

Donald Trump was excellent on the show, but we’re different people. I am excellent at being me, and I bring my own personality and humor to it. People ask me if I’ll say, “You’re fired” or “You’re terminated.” Or if I’ll say, “Hasta la vista, baby” or “You won’t be back.” You’ll have to watch.  

The show doesn’t work if the boss has no authority, so I have to be there as a successful  businessman and as the former Governor of California, as well as a movie star. People need to take you seriously. At school, I learned about being a salesman, and I could always turn a dollar into two. People forget that I was a millionaire before I was a movie star, and I never lost a penny in the movie business. 

I learned a lot about management as Governor. In politics, you need a great team around you — 10 minds are better than one, and you don’t always want “yes” people. President Lincoln was known for having a team of rivals — he’d campaign against them, and they’d be his enemy, but when he won, he’d bring them onto his team. It’s important to have different opinions.

You need a clear vision in politics, and you go after your vision with full energy, but you also need to know that you can’t get everything you want, because it’s not a dictatorship. Sometimes you fail, but you shouldn’t be afraid of failure. That’s a loser attitude. You can confront any problem. These are some of the ideas I’ll be bringing to the show.

You can expect lots of confrontation. I’m an expert in psychology, dating back to my days as a bodybuilder. I recognized then that sports aren’t just physical. It all comes from the mind — your vision, your determination, the fire in your belly. The mind is the only thing that can hold you back. I realized I could play with people’s heads, to talk people who were set to win into losing. I use that on the show. I get to know contestants’ strengths and weaknesses, what makes them angry or sad, what makes them smile. 

The show will be very colorful. There are huge personalities, from Snooki to Boy George and Laila Ali. There are football players, a basketball player, actors and great challenges, like putting on a halftime show at an L.A. Clippers game or selling the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios. When I asked Warren Buffett if he could be one of my advisors on The New Celebrity Apprentice, he said, “Anything you need, Arnold.” I’ve been friends with Warren a long time. He’s very firm, very businesslike, but he’s also got a great sense of humor. And there’s me. You can expect fireworks.  

The New Celebrity Apprentice premieres on NBC on January 2. Check out Arnold’s favorite films on our in-seat entertainment system under “Arnold’s Picks” in the movie section.