Trump Lashes Out at Jeff Zucker as ‘Human Scum,’ Recalls Getting Denied $6 Million an Episode for Hosting ‘The Apprentice’ – Variety

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Trump Lashes Out at Jeff Zucker as ‘Human Scum,’ Recalls Getting Denied $6 Million an Episode for Hosting ‘The Apprentice’ – Variety

By Zack Sharf
Digital News Director
Donald Trump reveals in the upcoming book “Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass,” written by Variety’s co-editor in chief Ramin Setoodeh, that he asked for a salary of $6 million per episode to host “The Apprentice” Season 2. An excerpt from the book published by Vanity Fair recounts how Trump wanted a significant salary boost for the second season of his NBC reality competition series. He made $25,000 per episode during the show’s first season.
As Trump recalls, NBC was “really in the basement” at the time of his contract negotiations for “The Apprentice” Season 2 because the network’s biggest hit, “Friends,” was on its way out after 10 seasons. “Friends” always earned more viewers than “The Apprentice” when airing a new episode, but “The Apprentice” would earn more when going up against “Friends” re-runs. It appears Trump latched onto the latter statistic as a win for “The Apprentice” and a big reason he deserved more money for Season 2. If “The Apprentice” had more viewers in Trump’s eyes and the cast of “Friends” were each pulling in a then-record $1 million per episode, that could only mean Trump’s Season 2 salary should match that.

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“’Friends’ had six people,” Trump says in the book (via Vanity Fair). “They’re getting $1 million an episode each. That’s $6 million. So if they’re getting $6 million, and I have higher ratings than they do — because this is the end of ‘Friends,’ and they were fading out — I said, ‘You should pay me $6 million an episode.’”

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The head of NBCUniversal at the time was Jeff Zucker, who shut down Trump’s request. Trump said the network “went fucking crazy” at his offer. Considering “The Apprentice” Season 2 ran for 15 episodes, that would’ve made Trump’s salary for the season a whopping $90 million.
“And they said, ‘We’re not going to do it. It’s over,’” Trump said. “I said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do. Give me something less than six. If you’re paying ‘Friends’ six, and I have higher ratings than ‘Friends,’ you should pay me six! But give me something less than that. I’m reasonable!’”
“And they went nuts,” Trump continued. “They said, ‘We’re going to get someone else’ … I thought the deal was dead. I thought I just killed myself … They walked out — they were so angry. I said, ‘That’s all right! Get somebody else.’”

The network did not get someone else. Trump says in the book that Zucker “called back like a day later, and said, ‘We got to make a deal.’ I said, ‘Why? You couldn’t get somebody else?’ He said, ‘No. We’ve got to make a deal.’ And I agreed to a fortune. You know, they paid a lot of money. A lot! It was a great experience.”
While Trump and Zucker appeared to be on good terms at this point in their relationship, things would later sour when Zucker became the head of CNN and Trump kicked off his presidential campaign. What does Trump think of Zucker now? “He’s human scum,” he says in the book.
Trump claims that he was instrumental in getting Zucker the job at CNN, only for Zucker to lead the network through its anti-Trump crusade during his presidential campaign. According to Trump, he was sitting next to the head of CNN Turkey and “one of the heads of Time Warner” in winter 2012 when the Time Warner exec said a new head of CNN would be hired soon. The exec rattled off four candidates, one of which was Zucker.
“‘I said, ‘What about Jeff Zucker?’ He said, ‘No, he didn’t do a good job at NBC.’ I said, ‘No — he did! He did ‘The Today Show.’ He did ‘The Apprentice,’” Trump said. “And after an hour and a half, I convinced him to hire Jeff Zucker. How stupid of a move was that?”
“When I was running, I said, ‘CNN is going to treat me great.’ It’s called loyalty. I got the guy the job,” Trump says later in his book about Zucker’s apparent betrayal. “And as I was campaigning, people would come and say, ‘Sir, CNN is hitting you a little hard!’ I would say, ‘That’s not possible. Go back and check.’ And I’d call Jeff.”
Trump said the two eventually stopped talking when he realized Zucker was driving CNN to be tough on his campaign.
“Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass” publishes on June 18. Head over to Vanity Fair’s website to read the full excerpt.
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