UPDATED: Donald Trump may not be the highest-paid reality star on television after all.
NBC is publicly disavowing a New York Post story that claimed the network had signed on for another two years of Celebrity Apprentice at a total cost of $160 million. The paper reported that Trump, as host, was set to make $65 million a year.
In a statement to the Slatest, NBC called the Post report "grossly inaccurate" and said that neither figure "is in the realm of reality."
The network said that it would not discuss the show's actual price tag, however, so it remains unclear exactly how much money Trump will make next season.
Here's the full statement:
"The financial information reported [Wednesday] in regards to 'The Celebrity Apprentice' is grossly inaccurate and has been significantly overstated. While it is our policy to keep financial information strictly confidential, neither the production costs of the show nor what Mr. Trump makes personally is in the realm of reality. Donald Trump and 'The Apprentice' franchise remain a key part of the NBC primetime lineup and we are looking forward to another compelling cycle next season."
ORIGINAL POST Wednesday at 9:59 a.m.: Looks as if NBC has made Donald Trump’s decision to bring an early end to his flirtations with a 2012 presidential run worth his while.
The New York Post reports that the network has agreed to pay Trump and Celebrity Apprentice co-producer Mark Burnett an estimated $160 million over the next two years for the popular reality television show.
Trump and Burnett co-own the Apprentice franchise, but Trump also receives a hefty payday for appearing as the face of the show. Sources tell the paper that as host, Trump will earn $65 million a year under the new contract. If accurately reported, that annual salary would appear to make him the highest-paid reality star on television. (Simon Cowell reportedly earned roughly $45 million to serve as a judge on Fox’s American Idol.)
Trump spent plenty of time and effort earlier this year fueling speculation that he was seriously considering mounting a run for the Republican presidential nomination. While many political observers never took a Trump run seriously, his embrace of “birtherism” helped briefly propel him into the top tier of GOP candidates in early polls.
He had promised to use the finale of this season’s Celebrity Apprentice to announce when he would make an official decision on whether to officially launch a presidential campaign. But with NBC eager to lock up sponsors for next season—and with network execs suggesting they were ready to find a new host if he ran—Trump ultimately announced an early end to the speculation saying that “business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”
According to the Post report, NBC has already line up a number of sponsors for the show’s next season, including Proctor and Gamble and General Motors.