Donald Trump denies Rosie feud a 'The Apprentice' publicity stunt
By Christopher Rocchio, 01/05/2007
The Apprentice host Donald Trump says that despite the fortuitous timing, his recent media feud with The View co-host Rosie O'Donnell isn't a publicity stunt intended to drum up interest in the sixth season of NBC's The Apprentice, which premieres on Sunday, January 7 at 9:30PM ET/PT.
Trump appeared on CNN's Wednesday night Showbiz Tonight, as well as NBC's Thursday morning TheToday Show, to discuss the sixth season of The Apprentice. However during the appearances, he was peppered with questions about his recent feud with O'Donnell that began last month when Trump announced Miss USA Tara Connor would keep her title, which was in jeopardy due to underage drinking. As part of her agreement with Trump, Connor is currently attending an in-patient substance abuse rehabilitation center. O'Donnell said Trump, who is twice divorced, had no right to be "the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America," sparking a string of nasty media exchanges between the pair.
"(Connor) is doing great [in rehab] and it's inspirational to a lot of people," Trump told Today co-host Meredith Vieira. "I could have thrown her away like a dog like Rosie wanted, and [O'Donnell] hated the fact that I gave [Connor] a second chance."
According to Trump, his strong reaction to O'Donnell's comments are based on a high school lesson that the only way to beat a bully is to hit them hard, fast and right between the eyes.
"I'm very satisfied with having exposed Rosie for what she is," Trump told AJ Hammer during his Showbiz Tonight appearance. "She lost with her talk show, her Broadway show was a failure and her magazine was one of the worse catastrophes in publishing. Ultimately people don't like her and will turn-off The View."
Both Vieira and Hammer asked Trump if he was using his recent tiff with O'Donnell to fuel publicity for The Apprentice: Los Angeles. Trump told Hammer he doesn't like the press his feud with O'Donnell has created, and added he "doesn't want to waste time fighting some low life like Rosie." Trump told Vieira The Apprentice has done so well, he doesn't need the help from a war of words with O'Donnell.
Trump attributed the ratings slip for The Apprentice, which had 40 million people tune in for at least a portion of its first season finale but has since seen viewership drop significantly in recent installments, to the fact that NBC aired three editions of the series during the 2005-2006 television season. He said the show's recent break from the airwaves (NBC did not air an edition of The Apprentice this past fall) should help the reality competition series.
"If you put American Idol on three times in one year nobody would watch it," Trump told Vieira. "We brilliantly ran three in one year, and the Martha Stewart version was a catastrophe which really hurt. [The Apprentice 5's] ten million [viewer average] is still a good number, but it's always how it compares to our best season."
Trump told Vieira he thinks the sixth installment of The Apprentice, the first season not filmed in New York, will be the best one yet. His daughter Ivanka, who will serve as his advisor in the upcoming season, told Vieira she's also having fun with the series' new twists, which includes having the losing team's members spending a night sleeping in a tent behind the mansion.
"It's not great for the morale of the team," said Ivanka. "The dynamic is really fun, as is the change of venue and fresh approach."
Ivanka also agrees with her father's reaction to O'Donnell's comments. "Rosie has been bullying people for a long time and my father has the form to retaliate so he did," said Ivanka. "(O'Donnell's) had a lot of second chances in her own life, and it's not surprising my dad would come back at her with a vengeance."
Trump also told Hammer he appreciates that The View creator Barbara Walters recently read an on-air statement clarifying O'Donnell's original comment about the real-estate mogul filing for bankruptcy. Although some of Trump's businesses have been involved in bankruptcy proceedings, Trump said he has never filed for personal bankruptcy, and instead followed the example set by some of the best "dealmakers" in the world who "clean things up" by having their companies file for bankruptcy.
"Every businessman uses bankruptcy as a tool for cleaning things up. It's routine and you just do it," Trump told Hammer.
Trump said his lawyers are still discussing the possibility of suing because of many other comments O'Donnell made that were "wrong and inaccurate."
Trump said there's "0%" chance he'd ever appear on The View to make amends with O'Donnell.
"I'd love not to answer another question about Rosie and love to say that I have no comment," said Trump. "It's just not his personality to do that," added Ivanka.