ABC News is the latest media outlet shocked – shocked! – to report Donald Trump’s The Apprentice producer partner/pal Mark Burnett has had dealings with Russians connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Burnett has boasted of being in business, or at least in business talks, with Putin’s circle.
In Tuesday’s much aggregated report, ABC News cites unnamed sources who claimed that nine days after Trump won the presidency, Burnett reached out to one of Trump’s closest advisers to see if he would sit down with a banker who has long held ties to Russia. ABC News reported that congressional investigators are looking into Robert Foresman, now deputy chairman of UBS Investment Bank.
With Burnett’s help, Foresman “found his way onto the daily calendar of Thomas Barrack,” who at the time was chairing what would become Trump’s inaugural fund, ABC News reported, citing internal emails. Burnett is the guy who was brought in to oversee entertainment for the inauguration festivities.
Foresman had lived for years in Moscow, where he led a $3 billion Russian investment fund; he had been touted as someone who maintains connections to Putin’s inner circle, the news division reported. Deadline has reached out to Burnett for comment.
Foresman wound up not meeting Barrack, nor did he get the role he sought with the fledgling Trump administration, ABC News reported. All parties involved, including Burnett, declined comment to the news org.
Burnett, meanwhile, has not shied away from talking about his flights into Putin’s orbit. Quite the contrary.
In 2015, for instance, Burnett said he was pursuing Putin as his next big reality TV star, telling THR he was eyeing a series that would go inside the world of global government leaders; Putin topped his wish list. Responding to the suggestion Putin likely would rebuff Burnett’s advances reality TV-wise, Burnett shot back, “How do you know that? … I would think I could probably get through to most people.”
The producer, of course, instead helped turn the bankruptcy-filing real estate developer star of his Apprentice franchise into the 45th President of the United States.
And, in 2017, Huffington Post reported “Trump’s ‘Apprentice’ Producer Once Did Business With Putin,” citing a “newly unearthed New York Times Magazine” from way back in January 2001 revealing that Burnett had negotiated with Putin’s circle at the turn of the century to turn the Russian Mir space station into a reality TV show in outer space called Destination Mir. “Putin is involved,” Burnett boasted to NYT of the project.
The show was to have followed a dozen American couch-cosmonauts through a real-life “space camp” in Russia in their bid to win a trip into space. Each week one contestant would be eliminated from training by Russian space officials.
Sadly, Destination Mir was thwarted when Mir – which, at the time was older than some television executives and already had suffered a serious collision, a fire, and multiple equipment and system failures – developed new issues and had to be put out to pasture.