He’s not with him. Mark Burnett issued a statement on Wednesday, October 12, insisting that he is not a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The 56-year-old TV producer — who created Trump’s hit reality show The Apprentice and its spinoff, The Celebrity Apprentice — previously said that he does not have the power to release potentially incriminating show tapes of Trump, 70, which led many to believe that he secretly supported the controversial Oval Office hopeful.
“Given all of the false media reports, I feel compelled to clarify a few points. I am not now and have never been a supporter of Donald Trump’s candidacy. I am NOT ‘Pro-Trump,” he told Variety. “Further, my wife [actress Roma Downey] and I reject the hatred, division and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign.”
Burnett’s statement comes less than a week after a 2005 Access Hollywood video of Trump making vulgar comments about women leaked to The Washington Post on Friday, October 7. In it, the business mogul tells host Billy Bush of his failed attempt to “f–k” a married woman (later to be identified as Nancy O’Dell) and even says that his star power allows him to make unwarranted advances on women, such as grabbing them “by the p–sy.”
Not long after the crass clip made its way online, Emmy Award–winning producer Chris Nee alleged Sunday on Twitter that Apprentice producers are sitting on footage that includes film of Trump using the N-word. On Saturday, October 9, he tweeted: “As a producer on seasons 1 & 2 of #theapprentice I assure you: when it comes to the #trumptapes there are far worse. #justthebegininng.”
Not surprisingly, this claim forced all eyes on Burnett, the brains behind the competition series — which Trump hosted from 2004 until 2015. (In 2015, NBC cut ties with Trump after he made offensive remarks about Mexican immigrants.)
Anti-Trump Twitter users spouted off heated messages to Burnett, pleading him to release the footage. In response, his rep issued a statement explaining that he is unable to do so since he does not own the rights to The Apprentice, which NBC sold to MGM.
"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," Burnett’s rep told USA Today in a statement on Monday. "The recent claims that Mark Burnett has threatened anyone with litigation if they were to leak such material are completely and unequivocally false."
The rep also emphasized that Burnett — a native of Britain — has long been a supporter of the Democratic party: "To be clear, as previously reported in the press, which Mark Burnett has confirmed, he has consistently supported Democratic campaigns.”
At the 2016 Emmys in September, Burnett was skewered for his association with Trump. Ceremony host Jimmy Kimmel took aim at his former work on The Apprentice by saying, “Many have asked who’s to blame for Donald Trump and I’ll tell you who, he's sitting right there, that guy — Mark Burnett. Thanks to Mark Burnett we don’t have to watch reality shows anymore , we’re living in one.”
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