Jeff Bezos finds himself in possession of possible blackmail material on disgraced former US President Donald Trump, should he choose to use it. On Tuesday, Amazon obtained the rights to The Apprentice and the fabled racist Trump tapes as part of its massive $8.45 billion acquisition of MGM.
All of the footage from the long-running reality series came under MGM’s umbrella with the studio’s 2014 purchase of Apprentice creator Mark Burnett’s company One Three Media. With today’s transaction, ownership of the footage has again been transferred — this time to Amazon — and that could mean bad news for Donald Trump.
Back in October 2016, Emmy-winning producer Chris Nee alleged Apprentice producers were sitting on footage that includes film of Trump using the n-word. The claim came after a video surfaced of Trump making a series of lewd comments about women during a 2005 conversation with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush.
Nee made the comments in response to a former Apprentice producer, who tweeted Trump has been caught saying “far worse” things on tape than the Access Hollywood footage. Tweeting the allegations at NBA team owner and Shark Tank host Mark Cuban, Nee said there was a “$5 million” leak fee and “we all get to hear him use the N word from what I hear.”
At the time, Buzzfeed reported that Burnett, who served as chairman of MGM Worldwide TV Group, threatened former Apprentice employees who could leak unaired Trump footage.
In 2018, actor/comedian Tom Arnold made it his mission to track down a number of damaging audio and video recordings for Viceland’s The Hunt for the Trump Tapes with Tom Arnold. He reportedly got choked by Burnett at a pre-Emmys party for his efforts.
Now that Burnett is presumably no longer in charge, however, he may not have a say in keeping the alleged racist tapes under wraps. Bezos certainly has plenty of motivation to unload the footage after being a frequent target of Trump during his presidency.