The New Celebrity Apprentice leads a number of promising new and returning series in our 2017 midseason preview

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22 December 2016

NBC, premieres Jan. 2, 8/7c

By Barb Oates

We begin the year with movie-star-turned-California-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who steps into Donald Trump’s former shoes as boss of The New Celebrity Apprentice (Mondays on NBC, beginning Jan. 2).

“I love to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone, so when I heard Donald was running for president and NBC was looking for a new host, I was interested right away,” Arnold tells us. “I’ve never been one to rest on my laurels — I have always loved climbing the next mountain, taking the next risk, confronting the next challenge. Hosting a reality show was a great challenge for me. I learned every day, and I loved it.”

Advising him in the show’s new Silicon Beach boardroom are Warren Buffett, Tyra Banks, Jessica Alba, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and attorney Patrick Knapp Schwarzenegger (Arnold’s godson and nephew, and his most trusted confidant).

“I have a great cast of advisers … but it was important to me to also have someone from my inner circle. Patrick isn’t just my nephew — he’s a powerful entertainment lawyer here in L.A. And he and I talk every day, so he understands me incredibly well,” Arnold shares. Patrick was thrilled — and honored — for the opportunity to support his uncle.

“Who wouldn’t want to be an adviser and sit next to Gov. Schwarzenegger and Jessica Alba and watch Laila Ali and Chael Sonnen fight it out in the boardroom?” Patrick adds. “Very few people know him [Arnold] the way I do, in private and in business.”

So who surprised them and is responsible for most of the drama this season?

“Every single one of them found a way to surprise me. I could go on all day but I don’t want to spoil the show,” Arnold says. “Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi wants to be taken more seriously, and I got to know her and believe she should. I got to watch Eric Dickerson, Ricky Williams and Chael Sonnen teach a crowd about makeup, and I couldn’t be more surprised at how great these burly athletes were at the task. The nature of the show forces everyone out of their comfort zone to rise to each challenge, and that means someone surprises you every week.”

ADDITIONAL NOTABLE NEWS SERIES STARTING IN JANUARY

Emerald City (Begins Friday, Jan. 6 on NBC)
A retelling of the classic Wizard of Oz tale in which Dorothy is transported to another world — a mystical land where an all-powerful ruler (Vincent D’Onofrio) has outlawed magic and faces not only the wrath of a growing cauldron of witches but also a mythical force.

Taboo (Begins Tuesday, Jan. 10 on FX)
Tom Hardy stars in this murky eight-part limited drama set in 1814 London. Hardy’s character is believed to be long dead but returns home to a world of conspiracy, murder and treachery.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Begins Friday, Jan. 13 on Netflix)
Neil Patrick Harris headlines this eight-episode series adaptation of the best-selling books by Lemony Snicket (a.k.a. Daniel Handler).

The Young Pope (Begins Sunday, Jan. 15 on HBO)
This event series stars Jude Law as the first American pope, a Brooklyn-born orphan who proves more of a challenge than the cardinals who elected him had planned. Diane Keaton and James Cromwell also star.

Training Day (Begins Thursday, Feb. 2 on CBS)
This sequel of sorts to the 2001 feature film picks up 15 years later and stars Bill Paxton and Justin Cornwell.

Doubt (Begins Wednesday, Feb. 15 on CBS)
Katherine Heigl plays a brilliant attorney at a boutique fi rm who starts to fall for her charismatic client, an altruistic pediatric surgeon (Steven Pasquale) recently accused of murdering his girlfriend 24 years ago.

Taken (Begins Monday, Feb. 27 on NBC)
Based on the action blockbusters of the same name, the series follows the origin story of a younger, hungrier former Green Beret Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) as he deals with a personal tragedy that shakes his world.
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