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Amazon, MGM and outtakes from The Apprentice: Here's what to know

Stephen Colbert's jokes prompt questions as to whether Amazon can release tapes that may contain racist comments by Donald Trump.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
There's been bad blood between Donald Trump and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos (seen here testifying virtually before Congress). The Amazon-MGM deal has people thinking about that.
Getty Images

Amazon has just signed a deal to purchase Hollywood studio MGM, and it remains to be seen exactly what the tech giant will do with the studio's portfolio of movies and TV shows. Comedian Stephen Colbert has a suggestion.

Since MGM's portfolio includes The Apprentice, a reality show that starred Donald Trump, the late-night TV host mused Tuesday that Amazon might have access to the outtakes from the show. People involved in the show have said the clips include racist and sexist comments by the former president.

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During his Late Show, Colbert wondered if Amazon would release the outtakes as a next move in an ongoing feud between Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who announced earlier this year that he would hand over the his leadership role to Andy Jassy. On Wednesday, Bezos set the date as July 5. 

The Bezos-Trump feud has involved a tweet by the Amazon boss saying he'd save a space on a rocket to send Trump into space. (Bezos owns the space company Blue Origin.) It's also featured accusations that Trump's animus was behind Amazon being shut out of a valuable government contract, which is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. Trump, meanwhile, has criticized the Bezos-owned Washington Post, accused Amazon of not paying enough taxes and suggested that Amazon's employees go on "a really long strike."

A cast member from The Apprentice claimed that Trump used the N-word while on set during the show's 13-year run. The show's creator and producer, Mark Burnett, and MGM said in a joint statement in 2016 that Burnett was contractually prohibited from releasing the show's outtakes and that MGM also had contractual obligations that "restrict" the company's ability to release the outtakes.

Trump didn't respond to a request for comment. Amazon declined to comment for this story. 

"MGM Studios owns The Apprentice and all its materials, including all footage," said MGM in a statement, adding that "various contractual and legal requirements restrict MGM's ability to release such material."

At Amazon's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Bezos painted the MGM acquisition as a win for "people who love stories," and said the giant e-tailer will keep building on the studio's intellectual property. 

"We can reimagine and develop that IP for the 21st century," Bezos said.

Correction, 1:06 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect that Stephen Colbert hosts the Late Show.