Jimmy Kimmel defended his decision to work with Mark Burnett after previously blaming the producer for Donald Trump’s unlikely political rise.
“I was just joking,” Kimmel said of his jokes about Burnett on Monday, which came during his stint as Emmys host in 2016. “But if you’re asking will I remind him 15 times a day that Donald Trump is president because of him? Yes, I will remind him of that 15 times a day.”
Back in September 2016, Kimmel singled out Burnett during his monologue as the one person at fault for Trump’s campaign. “Thanks to Mark Burnett, we don’t have to watch reality shows anymore because we’re living in one,” he said. “If Donald Trump gets elected and he builds that wall, the first person we’re throwing over is Mark Burnett.”
Three years later, ABC announced Monday that Kimmel and Burnett, who worked with Trump on “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” for years prior to his presidential campaign, would partner on the upcoming game show “Generation Gap” at the network.
“Certainly, there’s no way Mark Burnett has the vision that he imagined that this monster would one day become president,” Kimmel said. “If he [did] know that, I think we should be paying more attention to everything he does.”
Others have taken a more serious position on Burnett’s relationship to Trump, accusing the British producer of being complicit in his rise to the presidency. Some former “Apprentice” staffers have accused Burnett of burying potentially damaging footage of Trump, though others have cast doubt on its existence.
Tom Arnold has been particularly vocal in his opposition to Burnett, hosting a series called “The Hunt for the Trump Tapes With Tom Arnold” at Viceland. The duo reportedly had a confrontation at an Emmys party last year which got physical, which culminated in Arnold accusing Burnett of choking him in a police report. No criminal charges were filed.