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Murdoch discussed rights to buy ‘The Apprentice’ after Trump’s 2020 loss


Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch discussed buying the rights to Donald Trump’s reality show ‘The Apprentice’ in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, newly released court documents show. .

Testifying under oath in deposition for Dominion Voting Systems’ libel lawsuit against Fox, Murdoch acknowledged that he considered acquiring the show that made Trump a star on national television.

In an excerpt from the deposition made public on Wednesday, Murdoch said, “We were looking for what the hell were we putting on the evenings in Fox Business because CNBC said, I don’t know, ‘Shark Tank.’ I think.”

Murdoch then read aloud a message he had exchanged with his son Lachlan, also a top Fox executive, about “The Apprentice.”

“Anyone own the format? Trump would want a fortune, but it might be worth it,” Murdoch said in the filing, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Her son told her the rights to the hit reality show belonged to producer Mark Burnett, who sold them to MGM. Burnett was a top executive at MGM until last year.

The couple later met Burnett in Park City, Utah, according to the court filing. When asked during deposition if they had discussed acquiring the rights, Murdoch replied, “I don’t know. We didn’t come close and I don’t think we made an offer.

It is unclear whether Trump was aware of the talks at the time. A spokesperson for the former president did not immediately respond to a request for comment; a Fox spokesperson declined to comment.

“The Apprentice” aired on NBC for over a decade. The network severed business ties with Trump in 2015, citing his “disparaging statements” about immigrants after his presidential campaign kicked off.

The Murdochs met Burnett as Trump and some of his allies criticized Fox News for its coverage of the 2020 election. When asked if the idea of ​​acquiring the rights was about to “please” Trump and “get him into the tent,” Murdoch replied, “No.”

He described it as “an idea that we tossed, that we tossed”.

It’s unclear from the clip whether the Murdochs were interested in airing old episodes of the show or producing new ones featuring Trump.

The attorney who interviewed Murdoch asked, “A month later, you had your doubts about a new apprentice with Trump, didn’t you?”

Murdoch then read another written exchange on Dec. 20, 2020, in which he raised concerns that Trump would derail the show by calling it politics.

“Having thought, Trump would make it a full-time campaign vehicle. It would kill him,” Murdoch said.

He then told the unidentified lawyer questioning him, “We just got the idea.

“You have a lot of crazy ideas in business. We talk about it, we do something or we don’t,” Murdoch said.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.