The annual National Prayer Breakfast is held on the first Thursday of February. It has been a tradition since 1953 and an opportunity for political officials, socialites, and the top leaders in the business world to meet and forge relationships. It is also an opportunity for the President of the United States to offer words of encouragement and celebrate the importance of faith and prayer. So, of course, Donald Trump decided not to do any of those things. He effectively used his address to voice bitterness toward Arnold Schwarzenegger and his relationship with the NBC show Celebrity Apprentice.
With his former Apprentice producer Mark Barnett among those in the audience, Trump proceeded to mock Schwarzenegger and the low ratings that his first season has garnered as the new host of the series.
“We had tremendous success on The Apprentice. And, when I ran for president, I had to leave the show. That's when I knew for sure that I was doing it. And they hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out,” Trump scoffed, adding, “The ratings went down the tubes. It's been a total disaster and Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings, okay?”
As inappropriate as the speech was, what happened next was the best part of it all. Arnold Schwarzenegger promptly tweeted his response in the form of a video, which can be viewed below. In it, the former California governor said, “Hey, Donald, I have a great idea. Why don’t we switch jobs? You take over TV because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job and people can finally sleep comfortably.”
The National Prayer Breakfast? pic.twitter.com/KYUqEZbJIE— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) February 2, 2017
This incident wasn’t the first time that the two clashed about the ratings of Celebrity Apprentice. Shortly before taking office, Trump tweeted, “Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT,” followed by a second tweet, “So much for being a movie star-and that was season 1 compared to season 14. Now compare him to my season 1. But who cares, he supported Kasich & Hillary”
Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got "swamped" (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT. So much for....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2017
being a movie star-and that was season 1 compared to season 14. Now compare him to my season 1. But who cares, he supported Kasich & Hillary— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2017
Schwarzenegger returned the burn with a polite reminder about who he works for, “There's nothing more important than the people's work. 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.”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
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.— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 6, 2017
While it is true that Schwarzenegger’s premiere on Celebrity Apprentice did debut with lower ratings than Trump’s 2015 premiere at a deficit of 43%, something like this should be the last thing with which a U.S. President should be concerned. In an excerpt of the cover story by Stephen Rodrick for the upcoming issue of Men’s Journal, Schwarzenegger reflected upon the contrasts between the President and him. “I think people really reacted well to that response,” stated Schwarzenegger, referring to his response to Trump’s National Prayer Breakfast jab. “I sound more presidential and more diplomatic and more elder-statesman -- that’s exactly the way Donald should be.”