As soon as I posted the story, "Short Of Legal Action, Trump Outtakes From 'The Apprentice' Likely To Remain Secret," on Saturday, I've received a flood of emails & tweets asking the same basic question:
Is it possible that someone inside the Trump or Burnett organizations could leak damaging raw footage without official permission?
The answer is yes......maybe.
A lot of the questions ask about the likelihood that "Apprentice" outtakes might leak in a way similar to the Billy Bush "Access Hollywood" footage. While no one has confirmed it publicly, CNN's Brian Stelter reported on Friday that the tape had been available to multiple people on the show's internal editing drive, since a piece was in the works at the entertainment news magazine when the footage leaked.
That timeline helps explain why leaking damaging footage from "The Apprentice" is so much more challenging. In the case of "Access Hollywood," a producer had remembered the conversation and that made the task of finding the specific tape a much easier task. Plus, the footage wasn't leaked until it was available in clip form. The person leaking the footage didn't necessarily need a great deal of internal access or production knowledge to share the tape.
It's a much more challenging task with "Apprentice" footage. The archives for the show are massive and tightly controlled by MGM Television, which owns Burnett's company. A potential leaker would have to have access to the archives & knowledge of where to look in the massive collection. It's not impossible, but adding to the challenge is that Burnett's production people tend to be pretty loyal to him and a leak in the current environment would be seen as a huge betrayal of trust.
One avenue for a leak might come from current or former producers or editors who have some memorable footage in their possession. It's surprisingly common in the reality TV business for an editor to copy some significant piece of footage for their own amusement, Given the reported scale of Trump's bed behavior on "The Apprentice," it's likely that some potentially embarrassing gag reel is sitting forgotten on a former employee's computer.
There are a lot of variables here and the truth is that given the enormity of the interest, of someone has embarrassing footage from Trump's "Apprentice" stint available, it's going to leak.
As for whether it will come from someone in Mark Burnett's camp, I was told by multiple sources on Saturday that some sort of an internal review of footage had been taking place at MGM Television this past week following the publication of the original Associated Press piece on Trump's behavior during the show's production. MGM TV purchased Burnett's production company One Three Media in 2014 and while Burnett is president of the MGM Television and Digital Group, any decision would ultimately be made at a level bigger than Burnett just deciding to release it.
It's not clear how widespread the review had been, but I was told it is still "ongoing," but it is more of a preventative measure. Whatever that means.