When Did Donald Trump's 'The Apprentice' Stop Airing on NBC and Why?

President Donald Trump will make a return to NBC on Thursday night, the network that used to house his reality show The Apprentice. Instead of holding a debate between the sitting president and former Vice President Joe Biden, each candidate will hold their own "town hall" style special on competing networks.

The decision to reshape the debate night comes after Trump revealed he'd contracted COVID.

Biden's special will appear on ABC Thursday, while Trump returns to the network that gave him such a prominent name in the entertainment industry. Those who oppose the president were quick to slam NBC for hosting Trump and claimed it was obviously because of the network's former ties with the businessman.

Guys. If you're surprised that NBC is running propaganda for a Russian agent tonight, then I guess you missed the decade they ran "The Apprentice" when they knew he was bankrupt.

— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) October 14, 2020

are you trying to tell me the network that aired 15 seasons of the apprentice, sat on the access hollywood tape and tried to bury the harvey weinstein rape story is airing a town hall with donald trump????

— marisa kabas (@MarisaKabas) October 14, 2020

What network was the Apprentice on again? https://t.co/vROFZ5sB7s

— wendy (@Wendys_Garden) October 14, 2020

But NBC did publicly denounce Trump when he was running for President. It got us thinking: when was the last time Trump appeared on The Apprentice, and why did the show ever end?

If you weren't a dedicated Apprentice viewer, you may be surprised to know the series ran from 2004 to 2010 before shifting to The Celebrity Apprentice. The latter last aired in 2017, though there's apparently talk of bringing it back in a post-COVID era.

Trump hasn't been involved in all seasons, though. NBC cut all ties with the future President in 2015 after controversial remarks from Trump about Mexican immigrants. "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump," a statement from NBC said at the time. "At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values."

The Apprentice
Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump during "The Apprentice" Season 6 Finale at The Hollywood Bowl at Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California, United States in 2007. Getty/Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic

The comments came when Trump officially announced his run for president in June 2015. "The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems," Trump said. "And these aren't the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best...they're sending people that have lots of problems...they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

Though he won the presidency, the line is one his opposers have yet to forget. The remarks didn't just force Trump out of his position as the billionaire boss on The Celebrity Apprentice, but all of his NBC successes. That included a decision by NBC not to air the 2015 Miss America pageant, as Trump was co-owner of the franchise.

They didn't kick Trump off entirely, though. He appeared as the host of NBC's Saturday Night Live in November 2015, after he'd apparently been banned from appearing on the network in any other form.

As can be expected from any reality TV show, there is some controversy about the authenticity of Trump's business and brand as presented by The Apprentice, specifically in its earlier years. The Apprentice creators revealed how they formulated a powerful persona for Trump when the show launched in the documentary The Confidence Man, released in 2018.

"What we did, that was a scam," producer Bill Pruitt said of the show, according to People. "That was an entertainment."