Kawasaki dumps ‘Apprentice’ over Trump ties

Kawasaki dumps ‘Apprentice’ over Trump ties
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Japanese motoring company Kawasaki says it is severing ties with “The New Celebrity Apprentice” due to the reality television series’ ongoing connection to President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE.

"Once we understood the concerns of American citizens, we have taken the approach of agreeing not to participate in the show in the future as long as Mr. Trump is involved as an executive producer,” Kawasaki spokesman Kevin Allen told Reuters during a Wednesday telephone interview.

"How could we support a show that was essentially created by Mr. Trump and who was still involved?'” Allen added. "The concerns from our own customers, as well as the #grabyourwallet campaign, did seize the attention of our executives.”

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Kawasaki’s decision, Reuters said, follows a “The New Celebrity Apprentice” episode last Sunday in which contestants were asked to design a marketing campaign for a new motor bike from the company.

Allen admitted Wednesday that Kawasaki had faced pressure since the episode aired from the #grabyourwallet social media campaign, an initiative urging consumers to stop shopping at about 70 companies that do business with Trump or his family.

It also targets businesses that advertise on “The New Celebrity Apprentice” or donated to Trump’s 2016 White House bid.

Trump’s executive producer credit on “The New Celebrity Apprentice” first appeared during the show’s season premiere earlier this month.

The Jan. 2 episode featured actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) making his debut as Trump's replacement on the show.

Variety reported last month that Trump’s executive producer credit would likely garner him a low five-figure fee per episode, which would be paid by MGM, the show’s production company, rather than NBC.

Trump’s continued involvement in the program, which he started in 2004, has not been without controversy, however.

Critics charge Trump’s ongoing link to the series is one example of possible conflicts of interest between the president-elect and his vast business empire.