SAN FRANCISCO — Footage from Donald Trump’s appearances on the set of his long-running reality TV show “The Apprentice” remained locked away from public view on Saturday, despite allegations by cast and crew that the Republican presidential nominee frequently used lewd and sexist language while shooting the show.
The Associated Press again attempted to contact the executive producer of “The Apprentice,” Mark Burnett, after Friday’s release of a separate recording on which the Republican presidential nominee brags about aggressively groping women.
That separate recording of Trump was made in 2005 by a different show, “Access Hollywood,” as Trump prepared to appear on a soap opera.
Trump’s “Access Hollywood” comments led to widespread condemnation, with several Republican members of Congress calling on Trump to abandon his White House campaign.
In a video posted after midnight, Trump apologized, but also called the recordings a distraction. He told a pair of newspapers on Saturday he would never quit the race.
“Access Hollywood” said Friday it was an AP story published Monday about Trump’s frequent use of lewd and sexist language as host of “The Apprentice” that led it to dig through its archives and turn up “Access Hollywood” footage of the Republican nominee.
AP had previously asked “The Apprentice” producer, Burnett, to provide the original “The Apprentice” footage for review earlier this year. Those calls were not returned.
On Friday, AP contacted NBC, which broadcast “The Apprentice.” The network said it could not legally release any footage and referred calls to the producer, Burnett.
Contacted before the publication of this week’s AP report, NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks said the network only had licensed “The Apprentice” footage from Burnett. She said Friday she did not know if NBC had any footage from “The Apprentice” in storage, but that if it did, NBC could not legally release any of it.
“We don’t have the legal right to give out the footage from that show,” the NBC spokeswoman said.
Burnett’s office would not take messages Friday afternoon and directed calls to a public relations firm, which did not return multiple calls from the AP requesting comment and access to unedited footage and audio files from “The Apprentice.” Burnett’s office made the same referral last week when AP sought reaction to its original story about Trump’s behavior on the set of “The Apprentice.”
“I’m just answering their phones. They’re all out to lunch. Can you call later?” said a woman who answered the phones Friday afternoon at Burnett’s office.
A former crew member on “The Apprentice,” who spoke on condition of anonymity after signing a non-disclosure agreement, said Friday that Burnett guarded the show’s footage carefully, at the time it was being produced, to prevent spoilers that would reveal in advance which contestant had won the competition reality show.
“‘The Apprentice’ footage was super vaulted stuff, to keep it from getting into anyone’s hands,” said the former crew member. “The game-show aspect meant that the footage was locked down super securely.”
AP reported Monday that during his years hosting “The Apprentice,” Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexually tinged comments, rated female contestants by their breast size and commented about which ones he would like to have sex with. He made one such comment less than a year after marrying his third wife, Melania, in January 2005.
Because of the silence from Burnett and his representatives, it could not be determined which, if any, of the incidents described by former contestants and crew in the AP story had been recorded or occurred when cameras were not operating. It also could not be ascertained if any comments that could have been recorded still exist in an archive.
Burnett, an Emmy winner, is a British-born television producer based in Los Angeles. In December, he was named president of MGM Television and Digital Group. In addition to “The Apprentice,” Burnett has produced the popular programs “The Voice,” ”Shark Tank,” and “Survivor,” as well as cable miniseries. In his MGM role, he also oversees several scripted cable programs.
“The Apprentice” debuted in January 2004 and ran for 14 seasons, some within the same year and some as “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump and NBC parted company in 2015 after Trump made comments about Mexican immigrants that network executives deemed racist.
An extension of the program, called “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” will debut in January with Arnold Schwarzenegger as new host.
The Trump campaign previously issued a general denial to the statements attributed to Trump in the AP story.
The “Access Hollywood” footage was first posted Friday by The Washington Post and NBC News.
The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at email@example.com
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