Mark Burnett reiterates: He's not giving up Trump tapes

As the clamor grows louder for the release of potentially embarrassing tapes from Donald Trump's years on The Apprentice, the show's producer and owner are digging in their heels, declaring the archives are contractually confidential and they intend to keep it that way.

Mark Burnett, the reality-show maestro who invented the TV series that made Trump a reality star, issued a statement late Wednesday — his second on the topic — because, he said, of "continued false reporting" about whether there are recordings of Trump that could further upend his GOP presidential campaign and whether Burnett will release them.

The leak last week of an Access Hollywood tape of Trump making obscene remarks about sexually assaulting women has severely damaged his already flagging campaign. That leak followed an Associated Press report last week that former cast and crew of Apprentice said 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.

Now Trump's critics and political opponents want to comb through 14 seasons of unaired tapes of the The Apprentice, when Trump hosted as the judge testing the business skills of contestants, in the hunt for more embarrassing bombshells.

It's not going to happen, Burnett reiterated, while also making it clear he is not supporting Trump for president.

“Given all of the false media reports, I feel compelled to clarify a few points," Burnett said in the statement emailed to USA TODAY. "I am not now and have never been a supporter of Donald Trump’s candidacy.  I am NOT 'Pro-Trump.'  Further, my wife (actress Roma Downey) and I reject the hatred, division and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign.”

Marvin Putnam, a lawyer for entertainment giant MGM, which bought Burnett's production firm in December, reiterated in the statement that MGM, not Burnett, now owns The Apprentice. Burnett is the president of MGM.

"MGM has agreements with artists across a wide spectrum of creative properties, including The Apprentice,” Putnam said. "These agreements typically contain provisions related to confidentiality and artist’s rights. MGM has every intention of complying with its agreements with artists and honoring their rights, including with respect to The Apprentice."

It was not made clear which "artists" the statement was referring to — Trump or someone else.

Burnett and MGM issued a similar statement late Monday. Burnett said then that he doesn't have the right to release footage from the show because MGM owns it, and MGM can't release it because of "various contractual and legal requirements." Burnett also said he had supported Democratic candidates.

Nevertheless, public pressure continued to mount from former Apprentice contestants, Democrats and crusading women's rights attorney Gloria Allred for release of Apprentice tapes.

Allred, who's lately best known for representing dozens of Bill Cosby's accusers, sought to meet with Burnett and MGM to demand release of tapes as a matter of "extreme public importance."

A petition posted on MoveOn.org by the national women's advocacy organization UltraViolet Action calling for the tapes to be released had gathered more than 115,000 signatures by Wednesday. A Hillary Clinton supporter urged someone to leak Apprentice footage and offered to pay leakers' legal fees.  And a GoFundMe campaign is trying to raise millions to compensate possible leakers.

Trump dismissed his 2005 Access remarks as mere "locker-room talk," but The Daily Show found footage from Season 9 of Celebrity Apprentice when he fired contestant pro-wrestler Maria Kanellis for "locker room" talk in his boardroom. She said Trump is a hypocrite.

"He fired me for what I said and what he said was much worse," she said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "I don’t think that was locker-room talk. I think it was sexual assault," she said about his remarks about grabbing women by the genitals.


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