‘Apprentice’ creator Mark Burnett says he can’t release unaired Donald Trump footage
Reality television producer Mark Burnett has said he cannot release any unaired recordings of Donald Trump on NBC’s show The Apprentice, amid speculation the tapes of the embattled Republican nominee contain more damaging material.
Mark Burnett and MGM, which owns Burnett’s production company, said in a joint statement Monday they cannot release the recordings. They also addressed reports the British producer of the show threatened staff with a $5-million lawsuit if they leaked the tapes.
“Despite reports to the contrary, Mark Burnett does not have the ability nor the right to release footage or other material from The Apprentice. Various contractual and legal requirements also restrict MGM’s ability to release such material,” MGM and Mark Burnett said in a joint statement Monday. “The recent claims that Mark Burnett has threatened anyone with litigation if they were to leak such material are completely and unequivocally false.”
There have been calls for producers of The Apprentice producers to release unaired footage of the show after the now infamous tape of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women during a conversation with ‘Access Hollywood’ host Billy Bush in 2005. Trump has dismissed his words as “locker room talk.”
“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump said in the recording. “Grab them by the p—-. You can do anything.”
More than 20 former contestants, crew members, and editors told the Associated Press that Trump treated women on the show inappropriately, including talking about which contestants he would like to have sex with and rating them by breast size.
“As a producer on seasons one and two of The Apprentice I assure you: when it comes to the Trump tapes, there are far worse,” Bill Pruitt, an award-winning producer tweeted Saturday using the hashtag #JustTheBeginning.
The brewing controversy over unaired Apprentice tapes began last week after The Associated Press reported that former crew members, editors and contestants claimed Trump “repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language … rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he’d like to have sex with.”
“If there was a break in the conversation, he would then look at one of the female cast members, saying ‘you’re looking kind of hot today, I love that dress on you,’ then he would turn to one of the male cast members and say ‘wouldn’t you sleep with her?’ and then everyone would laugh,” said a former crew member who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of a non-disclosure agreement.
Trump’s campaign denied the allegations.
“These outlandish, unsubstantiated, and totally false claims fabricated by publicity hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees, have no merit whatsoever,” said Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman in a statement to the AP.
While some have called on NBC to release the tapes, the network has said it only licensed The Apprentice footage from Burnett and could not legally release any of it.
“We don’t have the legal right to give out the footage from that show,” the NBC spokeswoman said.
A GoFundMe page called “Trump Sunlight Campaign” has collected more than $24,000 by Tuesday morning with a goal of raising money to support anyone who leaks the footage.
“Someone out there is likely in possession of a piece of evidence that could be used to substantiate what many folks have always believed; that the current nominee for President of the United States is not a moral leader for us all to look to over the next four years,” the page says. “This country needs that person to come forward and ensure that we all know the truth that is out there.”
*With files from the Associated Press
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