After firing Donald Trump in July, NBC just named Arnold Schwarzenegger the new host of the Celebrity Apprentice. Some are joking about whether or not Trump will challenge the choice because Arnold is an immigrant. Since the Celebrity Apprentice helped to sanitize Trump's image and position him as a successful businessman, many believe it will do the same for Arnold.
Re-emergence of the Terminator
After "laying low" for over a year in the aftermath of news about his affair with his housekeeper, Arnold has been re-surfacing in the public eye. Starting in 2012, he did an interview on 60 Minutes and has been appearing on talk shows to promote his autobiography, Total Recall. He has also lent his name to a new political institute at the University of Southern California. Many view this public surfacing as an attempt to rebuild his image.
Record of success
Whatever you think about the Governator, he has a successful track record. Up until the revelations that he fathered a child with the housekeeper, Arnold Schwarzenegger has developed a Teflon-coated image that has brought him considerable wealth - amassing a net worth estimated at $300 million.
Prevailing in spite of his detractors
Many believe that Arnold is an opportunist that has been mediocre in all of his careers. They think that his...
- Body-building legacy is tainted because he admitted to using steroids and taking drugs.
- Acting is B-level with one-liners fed to him by writers such as "I'll be back" and "Hasta lavista, baby."
- Business success was a bi-product of his fame and his marrying into the Kennedy family.
- Term as governor was a disaster.
If Arnold's detractors are correct, he has done an amazing job of marketing himself - turning a mediocre product into a small fortune and protecting his image so that attacks from naysayers bounce off.
Creating his image
By most accounts, Arnold created his image with ambition, willpower, personality, and charisma leading to a very successful movie career (his movies grossed more than $1.6 billion domestically and he gets $30 million per picture). While many secrets about him were revealed to the public in his autobiography, he has done an effective job of protecting his image through several careers that include body-building, acting, and politics. His loyal supporters think he is just great, and they are quick to excuse his transgressions. Some even tried to initiate a repeal of Article 2 of the Constitution so he could run for President. Trump is unlikely to endorse this idea.
Protecting his image
During his run for Governor of California, there were stories in the Los Angeles Times that he groped and humiliated women. Rather than deny the allegations, he followed the fact procedure where he...
- Admitted to groping women,
- Apologized for it,
- Limited the damage by positioning his actions as typical movie-set antics and receiving strong support from his wife,
- Promised that he would never do it again.
The procedure worked so well that many were outraged at the Los Angles Times for reporting the story. As a result, Schwarzenegger won the recall election that ousted then Governor Gray Davis, and was re-elected to a second term.
When the Teflon wore off
In 2011, during the media storm caused by the revelations about his love child, Arnold employed the "fact procedure" again. However, it did not protect him this time because he violated step 4 - breaking his promise that it would not happen again. The evidence it did not work includes...
- His wife has left their home and hired a top divorce lawyer.
- Many found it too hard to forgive his cheating in the family home, keeping the affair a secret from his wife for 14 years, and fathering a child with the housekeeper and his wife at about the same time.
- His animated series entitled the Governator was cancelled.
- Arnold put his movie career on hold for a while
- Some said, when all is known, he might even beat Tiger Woods in the mistress count (his autobiography admits to more but not as many as Tiger).
Repairing the damage
Hoping that the public will forgive and forget, Arnold has stayed out of the limelight for over a year. His interview on 60 minutes and his appearances on talk shows, such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where he has offered a series mea culpas, are designed to promote his autobiography and rehabilitate his image. Lending his name to the USC Institute on Public Policy also moves his image in the positive direction. Taking this one step further, he has even suggested to selected media that he and Maria Shriver are likely to reconcile one day.
Now that NBC has picked him to host Celebrity Apprentice, it is likely that his image will continue to improve as he comes into the living rooms of the public each week in a position of business authority to decide who is terminated and who deserves to stay. It did wonders for Trump since the show positioned him as a "great" businessman. Those that know Arnold say he is very likable and has a lot of charisma.
Time will tell if he is successful repairing his image. His admissions, apologies, and book are steps in the right direction. Many are skeptical, but he told us in the movie The Terminator "I'll be back." From his flurry of media and movie appearances and his landing the host of the Celebrity Apprentice, it appears as if he is. I am betting that he will do a good job - even better than Trump.
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