The Apprentice creator Mark Burnett and his new home MGM have weighed in on whether they will produce any footage from NBC’s Donald Trump-starring reality show. That would be pretty hot property right now following the Friday release of a lewd 2005 video from a hot mic on the now-GOP presidential candidate — many have construed his comments as an admission to sexually assaulting women owing to his celebrity status.
Reports since the bombshell video surfaced have quoted sources close to Trump’s Apprentice days as saying his language and attitude toward women revealed in the Access Hollywood tape was nothing compared to being on the set of his reality competition show. Some have questioned why NBC has not dug out such alleged examples, with the network subsequently saying it did not have the right to do so. Apparently neither does Burnett or MGM, per a joint statement released today:
“MGM owns Mark Burnett’s production company and The Apprentice is one of its properties. 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. The recent claims that Mark Burnett has threatened anyone with litigation if they were to leak such material are completely and unequivocally false. To be clear, as previously reported in the press, which Mark Burnett has confirmed, he has consistently supported Democratic campaigns.”
— MGM and Mark Burnett
In December, MGM acquired the 45% stake it didn’t own in its United Artists Media Group joint venture with Burnett, Roma Downey and Hearst. It subsequently put Burnett in charge of the MGM Television and Digital Group.
Burnett was thrust into the middle of the presidential election season during the Primetime Emmys last month when host Jimmy Kimmel zinged him during the opening monologue for gifting America with the eventual GOP nominee. Kimmel also wondered if Burnett, with his connection to Trump, would make sure his The Voice judges Miley Cyrus or Cee-Lo Green would be appointed the next Supreme Court justice.
Burnett later that evening won the Outstanding Reality Competition Series trophy — The Voice‘s second in a row and third overall — and responded to Kimmel’s snark in his speech, saying, “Hillary Clinton called me in the last few minutes and said to personally thank Jimmy Kimmel for an extra free five minutes of ABC publicity for Donald Trump. Thanks, Jimmy.”
Backstage, reporters egged on Burnett to say more about Kimmel’s remarks and his role in setting up Trump’s campaign. “It’s easy to be a good sport. … I’m sure Donald is thrilled,” Burnett said, adding, “I bet you he’s emailing Jimmy now.”