CNN head man Jeff Zucker, who had a lot to do with pumping up Donald Trump’s celebrity status when Zucker was at NBC, opened up today about Trump’s demand that CNN pay him $5 million to appear in CNN’s upcoming GOP debate.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Zucker was asked about Trump during a breakfast conversation this morning at the Paley Center for Media.
“Trump said Monday at a campaign stop in Georgia that his presence at the debates has turned them into revenue windfalls for the cable news networks that carry them and that he wanted $5 million for CNN’s next debate scheduled for Dec. 15 in Las Vegas,” the Times reports. “He said he would donate the payment to charity.”
But Zucker said today that CNN does not pay candidates to appear at debates, and said that rule stands for Trump along with everyone else.
The Times report notes: “Trump made a similar demand before the last GOP debate that aired on CNN on Nov. 14. CNN ignored it and the candidate showed up anyway. Watched by 22.9 million people, the debate gave the cable news network the largest audience in its 35-year history.”
Zucker also talked about his role in making Trump a TV fixture by signing off on “The Apprentice” back in 2003.
Said Zucker: “I understood ‘The Apprentice’ was ‘Survivor’ in a different jungle and everybody was looking for their ‘Survivor.’ I understood immediately what Donald Trump was and what it meant to have him at the center of that show. I have no regrets about ‘The Apprentice.’ It was absolutely the right decision and it turned out to be a phenomenal decision for NBC for a long time. So that was a good move. I have no regrets about the part that I played in his career.”