Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Donald Rumsfeld; 'Apprentice' Controversy

Aired December 19, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. After Iraq's historic election and the president's big speech last night, what lies ahead for U.S. troops in Iraq?
And then exclusive...




KING: "The Apprentice" finale controversy heats up. Donald Trump, winner Randal Pinkett and runner-up Rebecca Jarvis, together for the first time since Randal refused to share his apprenticeship with Rebecca. Does The Donald think that was a smart business move? Does Randal have any regrets? We'll ask them all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. We begin tonight with an old friend from Washington, D.C., Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He's been on that job since the start of the Bush administration and apparently you're going to stay right through, is that right, Mr. Secretary?

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, we all serve at the pleasure of the president, Larry, but I have no plans to do anything different. I feel so fortunate to be able to be involved in what I consider to be the enormously important task facing our country.

KING: Because once on this program you said you once thought of leaving. I remember.

RUMSFELD: You do remember that. I remember that as well but those days are past.

KING: OK. Let's deal with things. Last night the president says that we're winning the war in Iraq. What is -- how do we determine that in this different kind of war? How do you know you're winning?

RUMSFELD: Well, if one were to ask how do you know if you're winning in the global war on terror, it seems to me the answer would be that we're able to do that which the violent extremists, the enemies want to prevent us from doing and that is to maintain our way of life as free people. If you bring it down to Afghanistan to Iraq and ask how are we winning? How do we know if we're winning? It seems to me in Iraq you'd look at the historic events that have taken place, the three elections in the year 2005 where millions of people went out and voted and risked violence and ran as public officials risking assassination.

And it's an amazing accomplishment for that country to have a constitution that they wrote, they ratified in a big referendum in October and then to elect officials under that new constitution just last week. So, it's quite an accomplishment.

And, it seems to me that it has to be an enormous disappointment to the enemies, the Zarqawis and the people who want to bring back a Saddam Hussein type regime in that country. They have lost something very big because the Iraqi people now have control of that country.

It's a sovereign country. They have elected their own people and they will have an Iraqi-style democracy, which of course is not something that the extremists would approve of.

KING: Why do you think the American public hasn't bought it completely?

RUMSFELD: Well, Larry, I think if you go back in history the Revolutionary War, the country was divided and George Washington was almost fired a couple of times. Think of the Civil War and the abuse that was heaped on Abraham Lincoln and the divisions in our country. Go back to the World War I, World War II, what was said about Franklin Roosevelt. I'm old enough to remember World War II.

KING: I remember.

RUMSFELD: You're a little younger than I am.

KING: No, I remember what was said about Roosevelt.

RUMSFELD: I mean it was just terrible the things that were said and the divisions in our country, so too in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, which are more recent.

So, I think it's something that's not new. A war is an ugly thing. It's a harsh thing and people are killed and wounded and it's a sad thing. But, of course, if our country over these many, many years, these decades, 200-plus years, every time there was a division in the country or every time there were opponents to something tossed in the towel and said, OK we won't do it, we wouldn't have a country. It would be a totally different world we'd be living in.

So, I don't take it as a big surprise. I think it's somewhat to be expected and I think that fortunately we have a president who's solid as a rock, who's courageous, who's confident about his decisions and in my view who's doing the right things for our country and for the world.

KING: Is the amount of American deaths, 2,100, does that surprise you? RUMSFELD: Well, there have been actually about 1,682 who have been killed in action and another 450 or so who have died in accidents or various other things. That's a lot of human beings. It is a -- when compared, of course, to Vietnam or Korea or World War I or World War II it's a much smaller number.

But each one obviously is something that you think about and when I visit the wounded in the hospitals you can't help but admire their courage, their perseverance, their pride in what they're doing and their belief in the cause that they're fighting for.

They are convinced that they're winning in Iraq. They are convinced that they are engaged in noble work that's important for the world and for our country and to protect the American people here at home.

So, I think it is a war that is complicated and different from other wars, other conflicts, but then if you think about it, previous conflicts were different from the ones that preceded them as well.

KING: Were you impressed at all when Congressman Murtha, a man you served with in Congress, a man I know you respect, a war hero...


KING: ...said -- a highly decorated Marine with contacts at the Pentagon said pull out, I mean you have to at least say -- take a step back and say this guy is not, you know, speaking out on the edges.

RUMSFELD: No, no, and he has every right to say what he said. I'm absolutely convinced that the course we're on is the right course and that there isn't any way we could -- some people are saying, well, we're losing the war. We're not losing the war. The only place this war could be lost would be in Washington, D.C.

The troops out there, the young men and women are doing an absolutely superb job. The Iraqi security forces have improved every day, every week, every month. We're passing off more and more responsibility to them.

And so, too, in Afghanistan, if you look at what's going on there. They seated their parliament this week for the first time. They have a popularly elected president for the first time in 5,000 years. It wasn't too many -- too long ago that people were saying Afghanistan was a quagmire and Afghanistan wouldn't work.

KING: So, are you just saying...

RUMSFELD: They're not ready for democracy people said.

KING: Are you saying then that just Congressman Murtha is wrong? You respect him but he's wrong?

RUMSFELD: I do respect him and I do believe he's going to be proven wrong.

KING: Do you have any news by the way about our troops in Afghanistan, anything happening there?

RUMSFELD: Well, of course, they're doing a terrific job and the important things that are taking place is that the Afghan army is getting better and we're able to include them in more and more responsibilities. So, too, the NATO nations have now taken over not just the northern sector but the western sector and they're scheduled to take over the southern sector very soon.

We have, oh, a very large number of allies that are participating with us. It looks to me as though we are going to be as a country able to draw down our forces in Afghanistan by, oh I suppose, 2,000 or 3,000 sometime very soon and it's a direct result of the progress that's being made in the country, the fact that their parliament's now been seated and the fact that NATO is assuming a larger responsibility, so I feel quite good about the situation in Afghanistan and the fact that we are able to draw down our forces somewhat.

KING: So, how many troops are there?

RUMSFELD: Well, I'm trying to think. It's in the high teens. We now have more troops there, the United States does, than all of the other countries combined and we still will after drawing down a modest number, 2,000 or 3,000.

KING: And when will that happen, when you say soon (INAUDIBLE).

RUMSFELD: Yes, I think they're in the process of discussing it now and it could be they've talked to the Afghan government and then we talk to our allies, our NATO allies and after we've coordinated everything with the Congress, our allies and the Afghan government, why they make announcements of that type and I suspect it will be quite soon depending on all of the notifications.

KING: And what about troops in Iraq, any idea when some will be starting to come back?

RUMSFELD: Well, as you know, in the case of Afghanistan and in the case of Iraq it's condition based. The president has said that we will reassess the situation periodically. We've done that in Afghanistan. We're doing that in Iraq and what will happen is at some point General Casey and General Abizaid will, oh, determine what they think the post election circumstance is in that country and then make a recommendation and then the president will be able to make a decision as to how many troops would be replaced and how many troops might not be replaced during the coming deployment cycle.

The only thing I would say is that we've been up as high as 160,000 in connection with the election that just took place on the 15th of December and we've said all along we plan to pull that down, back down to our baseline of something like 135,000 to 140,000 after the election and after this period where we expected an increase in violence is past us.

At that point, my guess is that the commanders will come up with their conclusions after the election and make their recommendations. Then the new government will get put in place sometime in February or March, in that time frame.

And I suspect that the commanders will work with them and project a date out into the future where we will be able to begin talking with the new government, the permanent government of Iraq about force levels and coalition force levels and U.S. force levels as the Iraqi security forces continue to grow.

I mean now they're up over 216,000 Iraqi security forces now. They provided the security for the election, did an excellent job, and we're passing over responsibility to them on a continuing basis.


RUMSFELD: I think we've passed over something like 17 bases to them already. They're now running by themselves something like 50 percent of Baghdad Province, the biggest province in the country so I feel very good about the progress in Iraq.

KING: We'll be right back with some more moments with the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Secretary Rumsfeld. I guess, Secretary, the two things that Americans value most, I don't want to put thoughts into their minds, is probably privacy the thought of invasion of your phone is abhorrent to you and certainly the torture of people. These two things have both been in the news, your reaction to both, wiretapping?

RUMSFELD: Well, I think first of all the way to think of it I think is the way the president presented it. The president after September 11th proposed to the Congress that the Patriot Act be passed and he took some steps under his authority in consultation with Congress with respect to his interest in knowing to the extent possible what kinds of threats might exist against the United States by al Qaeda and related organizations.

I thought he explained it exceedingly well this weekend in his presentation. He is very sensitive to the importance of privacy issues, just as we are at the Pentagon. As a matter of fact, I got a number of prominent Democrats and Republicans several years ago to serve as a panel to monitor what we do in the Pentagon with respect to certain activities and give us advice on the subject of privacy because we feel so strongly about it.

KING: And, on the area of terror, are you glad that McCain and Bush came together on that?

RUMSFELD: Well, I am. I think that's a good thing. Their debates and discussions really don't affect the Department of Defense to any extent because the president's policy from the outset had been to require that detainees be treated humanely.

My instructions to the Department of Defense from the beginning have been that detainees be treated humanely. Each instance where there was an allegation of an abuse of a detainee there has been an investigation and, where appropriate, a prosecution and a conviction.

I think the thing that is good about it is that it clarifies this and people now understand that the subject is one that's important to the American people, to the president and to the Department of Defense and other agencies of government and that there will be a standard.

The only issue I think will be involves the interpretation of various words that are contained therein and we'll have to find out way to see that there's a reasonably common understanding of those words.

KING: The president was asked this morning about mistakes he may have made and he discussed a few possibilities. Do you ever examine your own? Do you ever say to yourself what could I have -- where did I go wrong? We all do.

RUMSFELD: It's interesting. That seems to be the famous press -- the favorite press question these days and I don't know quite why but one of the things I've cited is that certainly neither I nor others anticipated the intensity of the insurgency or the violence that would persist this long after the major combat operations had concluded.

I think I may have mentioned to you, Larry, that I sat down and came up with a list of 25 or 30 things that I thought could go wrong or could be real problems and presented them to the president and to the Department of Defense and we made plans with respect to them.

Fortunately, most of those things did not occur that could have been quite damaging and harmful and dangerous. Some did occur and certainly the persistence of the Zarqawi people and some of the insurgents is something that has been unfortunate and something that over time the Iraqi people eventually by themselves are going to have to deal with.

KING: Yes. A couple of other things, what in all of this worries you the most now?

RUMSFELD: Well, as I say, our forces are doing such a superb job around the world and certainly during the holiday season it's appropriate for us to express appreciation to them for volunteering. Every one of them is a volunteer. They weren't drafted. They weren't coerced. They weren't forced.

They volunteered and said, "Send me," and they're over across the globe serving our country with courage and perseverance and great dignity and professionalism. And we are grateful to them and we're grateful to their families. I don't worry about the job they're doing. They're doing their job.

As I say, the only place that we could lose this conflict would be in Washington, D.C. where people who don't have as good an understanding of what's taking place over there and may not have the patience seem to reflect an unease. And, I just am hopeful that people will reflect on our history as a country, the nature of conflicts, prior conflicts, and develop an understanding about the difficulty of them, the uncertainty of them and we've all heard the phrase, "No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy." As the president said, we have to constantly adjust our tactics to meet the changes that the enemy is imposing on themselves.

KING: So, Washington worries you more than overseas?

RUMSFELD: I think the work that they're doing overseas is so professional and so able and we're so fortunate to have them there that I would have to say that the only place this could be lost is if we lost our will here in the United States.

KING: And finally what's that lapel you're wearing? What's that in your lapel?

RUMSFELD: Oh, that's the -- that's the Web site that any American, anyone in the world can go to that Web site, and find out ways that people all across our country are finding to support the troops and their families and their loved ones.

And companies are doing it. School rooms are doing it. Individuals are doing it. And, it's a wonderful thing how the American people have not just supported the people in the tsunami and supported the people in Katrina and supported the people in Pakistan during the earthquake but they're also supporting our troops, who are doing such a wonderful job for our country.

KING: It's


KING: Short for military. Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary. Have a very happy holiday.

RUMSFELD: Thank you so much, Larry, and a happy holiday to you.

KING: We'll see a lot of you in 2006.

RUMSFELD: Terrific. I look forward to it.

KING: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will be back right after this.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. The remainder of our program tonight we'll take a look at the latest occurrences on "The Apprentice." Donald Trump seems to never be too far away from controversy.

Donald, by the way, will be on with us right after the New Year. In fact, he'll be on January 4th for the full hour. But last Thursday night the wind up night of "The Apprentice," which by the way won the ratings for the evening that night, even Donald Trump had a hard time deciding who should be his next apprentice, the beauty with a head for business or the Rhode scholar. He picked Randal Pinkett and then threw him a curve.

Take a look at what happened.


DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE": If you were me, would you hire Rebecca also?

RANDAL PINKETT, "APPRENTICE" WINNER: Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump, I firmly believe that this is "The Apprentice," that there is one and only one apprentice and if you want to hire someone tonight it should be one.


PINKETT: It's not the apprenti, it's "The Apprentice."


KING: OK, there you have it. There's been writing about this, talk about this everywhere and we've got all three of them tonight, Donald Trump on the phone, Rebecca Jarvis with us here in Los Angeles, the financial journalist and runner-up, and in Las Vegas is Randal Pinkett the newest apprentice who shocked the viewers when he said no.

First Donald, what was your reaction to that occurrence?

TRUMP (by telephone): Well, when I decided to do it, it was a live show and I thought about a half an hour into the final decision that I might very well do it because they're both outstanding. Rebecca is outstanding. Randal is outstanding. And, they both did a really good job during the 16 weeks.

I mean you know it's tough stuff but I really thought Randal would probably say "I'd love the idea" and that would have been the more popular thing to do but he chose a different route. He took the tough business route and a lot of people respected what he did.

Now there are some people that are disappointed but as you know, Larry, that's true with everything. A lot of people respected he did the thing that he felt. He went with the tough business decision. He said it's "The Apprentice." It's not, you know, five apprentices or two apprentices.

I mean it's "The Apprentice" and he wanted to be -- he worked very hard. He did very well and he wanted to be "The Apprentice." So, he did something that he knew would not be as popular but he also made the tough decision and you have to respect that.

KING: Were you disappointed, Donald? TRUMP: I was surprised because I really thought he was euphoric, which anybody would be. I mean I would know that whoever gets chosen is euphoric. We had a tremendous audience both at Lincoln Center and on television, as you know. So, he was euphoric and I really thought that based on that he was a happy guy that night right after that decision was made that he probably would do it.

But he's an unusual guy. He's a brilliant guy and he decided to make a decision that he knew would not be as popular but for him was the right decision. And, by the way, a lot of other people told me it was the right decision.

And I had Miss USA, I own the Miss USA/Miss Universe contest and she had recently won the Miss USA and she maybe said it better than anybody. She said, "Mr. Trump, I just won Miss USA. Supposing they said but the runner-up was also nice, would you like to share your crown?" She said, "I wouldn't do that." And, in a sort of surprising way when you break it down into a pageant, a beauty pageant, it makes total sense and why is life so different than that, Larry?

KING: All right, Rebecca were you shocked?


KING: First at the offer.

JARVIS: Well, I was shocked. I was shocked that I guess, yes, that the offer was out on the table for Randal to make the choice but, you know, it's been a while since that decision was made and a lot of things have changed and a lot of movements have been made.

KING: Were you surprised that he said no?

JARVIS: Yes, I was as a matter of fact. I was very surprised that Randal would say no.

KING: Because you got to know him pretty well during all this huh?

JARVIS: Yes. We got to know each other quite well. In particular, you know, we had worked together on those last two tasks leading up to this. We both saw the fight in one another and, you know, I -- I think -- I think that surprised me the most.

KING: Randal, the obvious, why did you say no?

PINKETT: Well, Larry, you know first let me just say that I have a tremendous amount of respect for Rebecca and I think she's outstanding. And, as she mentioned, you know, we worked extremely well together on the last few tasks and I think we both had a high level of mutual respect for each other.

But, at the same time, you know, I believe that the competition was indeed about selecting "The Apprentice." You know nothing I said that evening, as some may have interpreted, precluded the possibility of Rebecca still joining any organization, including the Trump organization.

But for that evening I believed that much like other finales, we've had three previous apprentices. None of the three have ever been presented with the opportunity to hire their adversary and I felt like I sufficiently distinguished myself, having worked extremely hard, much like Miss USA or Michael Jordan or any other competitor that I had distinguished myself as "The Apprentice." I think my record really spoke for itself.

KING: But upon further reflection couldn't you also say, you know, good business is teamwork? She was terrific. We worked together. I've got a chance here organizationally to be above it and say OK.

PINKETT: Right. Right, well hear what I'm saying, Larry. All I said was that if you're going to hire somebody tonight that did not preclude hiring her the next day or two days later.

So there's still -- I mean I still left room for the possibility of her joining the team. Nothing I said precluded that. My comment was that tonight in particular is about hiring "The Apprentice," so what I've done is not contradictory with what you've just said at all.

KING: I see. We will pick up on that because maybe things are moving a little. We'll be right back with Randal Pinkett, Rebecca Jarvis and, on the phone, Donald Trump. Don't go away.


TRUMP: People follow Randal. Whenever there's a choice we want Randal. I mean, it just happened four or five times. I've never seen anything quite like it. Rebecca, you're outstanding. Randal, you're hired.




PINKETT: This is it. This is the end of the process. There's one last opportunity for me to show Mr. Trump that I deserve to be his next apprentice, so that Mr. Trump has no question who his next apprentice should be, me.

JARVIS: The characteristics about me that have driven me to this point are drive, passion, intelligence and an attitude that nothing is out of my bounds.


KING: Rebecca Jarvis, this is hard to answer, of course, it is retrospect. If you had won, Mr. Trump had said to you, make him co- apprentice. Honestly, what would you have done?

JARVIS: It's actually not hard for me to answer at all. As a business leader, I make business decisions that are best for business. And when you see talent in the business world, you snatch it up as soon as you have the opportunity to do it.

KING: You would have said yes?

JARVIS: Absolutely.

KING: Donald, Randall is now saying that was that night. He was the apprentice that night. He wouldn't mind tonight if you made a decision. Can you bring her in as a whatever you want to bring her in as?

TRUMP: Larry, I've told you before how much I like and respect Rebecca. I think Rebecca probably has so many job offers right now that she's just sifting through. You know, everybody that's been on the apprentice, frankly, has done well.

And, I mean, people that haven't done nearly as well or aren't nearly as good as Rebecca. But I think she's got so many job offers by now. I know she was offered something by Yahoo. I believe Microsoft also offered her something and probably lots of others.

But I would say this. If for some reason she's not satisfied with those offers, if she called me, you know, I'd be honored to talk to her. And I think Randal would also like that. Is that a correct statement, Randal?

PINKETT: Absolutely. That's 100 percent correct, Mr. Trump. I agree with that 100 percent.

TRUMP: But I do believe she's been offered so many jobs, from what I understand, and rightfully so, that, you know, she's going to call me, but she's most likely going to say, Mr. Trump, thank you very much, this has been a great experience. You know, again, everybody has been happy with The Apprentice.

KING: Randal, on further reflection might you tonight maybe change your mind a little and say, Rebecca, in good business sense, come join us. I don't want to lose you to Microsoft or to Yahoo, I think you belong with us at Trump. Come along.

PINKETT: Well, absolutely. I certainly speak on my own behalf and on Mr. Trump's behalf in saying, you know, we would certainly encourage Rebecca to join the organization. And again, she has plenty of offers on the table. And I'm sure that she's in hot demand, as Mr. Trump said has been the case for previous apprentices.

But my words that evening and my words hereafter have and will continue to be very, very supportive of Rebecca joining the organization. And I encourage her to consider it. And I think we'd all be honored if that were something she'd consider.

KING: Rebecca?

JARVIS: Well, you know, it's a wonderful offer on the table among many wonderful offers on the table. And it's something for me to consider.

KING: Well, doesn't it make sense, Donald, in good business, shouldn't Randal have said yes, in the sense that a good -- you have always told me that the best thing about your business is the team?

TRUMP: You know, Larry, I've been called by so many people over the last couple of days talking about Randal's decision. And I have to tell you, I do The Apprentice as a real business tough show, right? I don't do it for the entertainment. If the entertainment's there, that's great. The fact that a lot of people watch, that's great.

But I do it really for the business -- you know it's reality and it really is reality. But I've been called by so many people. And I'll tell you, I break it into groups.

The hardened veteran killer business people all thought what Randal did was 100 percent right. He made a tough business decision. He did what he thought was best. And it was a tough decision. And he knew it wasn't as popular.

The other people I deal with that aren't necessarily as business oriented, fine people, but they thought Randal's decision was a tough one from the standpoint that he should have probably done something with Rebecca.

So you have two different groups of people. But, you know, many, many people thought what Randal did was really right.

KING: All right.

Randal, were you shocked when Donald made that offer?

PINKETT: I have to say it was a bit surprising. You know, I jumped out of my chair and shook everyone's hand, and I hugged Rebecca. And then when he called me back to the table, you know, there had been discussion about and rumors floating about a potential double hiring.

But I don't think I sufficiently anticipated that in the process of trying to do that he would actually consult me. I imagined that if Mr. Trump had wanted to hire us both that he would have either done that outright or he would have hired one of us. It was a little surprising to be put in that position.

TRUMP: You have to say, Larry, it was good television.

KING: Yes, it was that.

Donald, if he had accepted your proposal, would you have been happy?

TRUMP: Well, if he had accepted, I would have also hired -- I would have done a double. I would have also hired Rebecca. And I think Rebecca knows that. If Randal would have said, I would be honored to do that, Mr. Trump, that would be great. Which, again, probably would have been, definitely would have been, the more popular decision, not necessarily the right one, but the more popular decision. Perhaps it would have been a decision that was less business oriented but a more popular decision. But if he had said that, I would have also hired Rebecca.

KING: But Donald, isn't PR part of the business? And wouldn't that have been good PR?

TRUMP: Well, business is part of the business. This was Randal's night. Randal wanted to be the apprentice. As he said, the show is the apprentice. It's not, as he also said, the apprenti. Nobody is sure whether or not that is correct or not, but that's OK.

PINKETT: That's not a word.

TRUMP: It may very well be correct, actually.

KING: Well he's the Rhode Scholar. Is there a word like apprenti?

PINKETT: No the correct is apprentices.

TRUMP: Yes, but I think there is a word apprenti now, Randal. You've created a word. It actually works a lot better than apprentices.

KING: We'll come back with some questions for Rebecca in all this.

Don't go away.


TRUMP: We have a little comedy, a couple of comedy routines. Come on, let's go.

JARVIS: I really expected Mr. Trump to come up and say a few words to the VIPS. I didn't expect him to tell people that they should follow him downstairs for the comedy event.

Trump got people going downstairs for our comedy event 30 minutes before we anticipated its start. It is kind of humorous that out of all the things Trump ended up being the biggest wild card.




TRUMP: You think you're better than Randal?

JARVIS: Mr. Trump, I think...

TRUMP: ... you think you're better than Randal? JARVIS: As an apprentice, absolutely, Mr. Trump.

PINKETT: I would beg to differ, Mr. Trump. In fact, I run business. Rebecca writes about business. There's no comparison. In our academic background, there's no comparison. In our academic background. No comparison on professional experience. And I have an undefeated record, Mr Trump. She has a one in two record and a losing team record.


KING: In a sense, Rebecca, in a twist of fate, couldn't this be the best thing that ever happened to you?

JARVIS: It could absolutely be the best thing that ever happened.

KING: You're the most famous runner-up in history.

JARVIS: That's very true. It's very true. And I feel really good about it.

KING: Supposing tonight, Randal said, "I've been thinking about it and maybe you got a point, join me, your co-apprentice." What would you say?

JARVIS: I would have to say that thank you, thank you for the consideration, but I'd also have to tell him that there's a lot on the table right now. And Thursday is a long ways away. I mean, that's kind of light-years in my past.

KING: You'd turn it down?

JARVIS: I wouldn't say I'd turn it down. But I would say is that I'd need to think about it because there are a lot of wonderful things on the table right now.

KING: Randal, when you go to bed at night, any of these nights since Thursday, have you given any consideration to maybe, maybe I'll change my mind?

PINKETT: Well, realize Larry, again, I stand firm in the decision that the evening was about "The Apprentice." I also stand firm in the notion that I believe Rebecca would be a wonderful addition to the Trump organization. And those to me are not contradictory.

Again, I feel as though I sufficiently distinguished myself through an undefeated record, through a winning team record, through the best academic credentials in the history of the show, to having started five businesses, to having even beat Rebecca head-to-head as a project manager.

So I feel in all honesty that I earned the apprentice. But I believe that Rebecca is fantastic, I think she's outstanding, I think she'd be a great addition to any organization. The evening was about the apprentice. However, at the end of the day, I believe Rebecca is fantastic.

KING: Donald, some bloggers are saying there's racism here, that the request to hire Rebecca was an effort to water-down that it was won by an African-American.

TRUMP: Well, that's one I have not heard at all, Larry. But I will tell you that Thursday night was a great evening. I would recommend to Randal, and I recommend to myself, I think we should just let it be. It was an amazing evening.

Randal won. Rebecca did great. And I think we should just let it be. I think Rebecca's going to do fantastically well. She's going to end up getting a job. Maybe she'll be the head of Microsoft or Yahoo some day and she'll say, "Hey, 'The Apprentice' had a lot to do with it." It was just an amazing evening. And the one that was happiest of all? You know who that was? NBC.

KING: By the way, can you unequivocally say that race had nothing to do with this?

TRUMP: Absolutely. Of course it didn't. Why would I have picked Randal if it did, Larry? You're just doing that because you want to get a couple of rating points yourself.

KING: I don't know what you're talking about. On one of my notes here said that -- I don't get bloggers. I don't how to reach a blogger.

TRUMP: Hey, Larry, can I tell you what? I don't even think your question is appropriate.

KING: Well, I'm told that some bloggers are saying it.

TRUMP: I don't know if you are told that, Larry. I don't even think your question is appropriate. I picked Randal. If race was a part of it, I wouldn't have picked Randal. So I just think your question is totally inappropriate.

KING: All right. All I'm telling you is that my notes say that some bloggers are saying that.

TRUMP: OK. I'm sure they say that.

KING: I don't even know how to touch a blog. Do you know how to get a blog?

TRUMP: Larry, I'm sure your notes say that, but I think your question is inappropriate.

KING: If it's inappropriate, I apologize to you, Donald. Is that OK?

TRUMP: Yes, that's fine.

KING: Do you know how to reach a blogger?

TRUMP: I have no idea. Everybody that works for me knows. Me? I have no interest.

KING: I have no idea how to reach a blogger. I've never sent an e-mail. I don't know what I'm doing.

All right, if Randal was so outstanding, what were Rebecca's strong points, Donald?

TRUMP: Well, she really was amazing under pressure. You know, she broke her ankle. And most people would have gone home. And that's male or female. They would have just gone home to mom as I said on the show, and just say -- they'd call it a week.

But the fact is, she was hobbling -- and it was a bad break. She was hobbling around on crutches for weeks and weeks. And she -- despite the crutches, and that's a huge handicap, she did fantastically well. I mean, she was really a star of the show.

And I think her ability under pressure really was amazing. And the other thing I loved about Rebecca was loyalty. Loyal to Toral, who in many cases, in my opinion, didn't deserve that loyalty. But she was really loyal. I think she's an amazingly loyal person and I love that about Rebecca.

KING: I'm going to ask you more when we're together on January 4th, on how tough this is for you, Donald, to do a show like this. I know you enjoy it. But how tough is it to fire people? I want to get into that with you when we're together on the 4th.

TRUMP: Yes, I mean, my whole life is really about this. This is really an extension of business. And I think that's why this show -- you know, we've had 15 copies of "The Apprentice." And as you know, Mark Cuban and Richard Branson and Tommy Hilfiger, and I won't mention Martha.

But we've had 15 copies of "The Apprentice." Every single one of them has failed and been taken off the air. And yet we win Thursday night in the ratings. So you know, what's going on? It's an extension of my life. And it is not that difficult for me because basically it's the same thing I do in the office, Larry.

KING: We'll be right back with more, Randal Pinkett, Rebecca Jarvis and Donald Trump. Don't go away.


JARVIS: Rebecca Jarvis. To help nonprofits on how to work more efficiently. Consulting and working with you here at the Sue Duncan Children's Center. And we want to make sure you guys get the resources that you need. We're helping Sue Duncan Children's Center raise more funds over the next couple of years.

I wanted to give you this. We've got a five-phase plan so that we can do special projects and things like that. I hope to hear Mr. Trump say, you're hired. And by saying that, he gets an individual who will bring a drive for absolute success every single day.



KING: We're back.

There was a time when Randal and Rebecca teamed up during this competition. Found out the other team ordered a bunch of megaphones. And you and Randal posed as the other team and picked all of them up to use for your own task.

JARVIS: I wouldn't say we posed as the other team. We got information, and we acted on that information.

KING: Dirty pool?

JARVIS: Not at all.

KING: Those ends justify means?

JARVIS: No, I don't believe in ends justify means, but I do believe that when there's information in the marketplace in any business setting, there's information in the marketplace. You have to react to it to stay competitive. We found information.

We were looking for megaphones. We found out they were located at an alternate location. And we decided that we would go to that location despite the fact there was another team on their way there as well.

KING: Randal, you have any qualms about that before I ask Donald about ethics?

PINKETT: Well, you know, I had received a good number of e-mails about that move. And I'll just say this. I think it would have been an even more powerful statement if we had been able to beat them without taking those megaphones.

I think, you know, in retrospect, there are some questionable ethics in that move, but it would have been a really strong statement for us to not even have to worry about and still beat them nonetheless. That was a close call. I mean, we made the decision that we made. And, you know, we were victorious, but it was an interesting move on our part.

KING: Donald, ethically, good move?

TRUMP: Well, it was certainly smart. I mean, the other side didn't know what happened. They walked in like a bunch of lost sheep. And I would say that it was a strong business move, and, you know, they were given like, as Randal said, you know, maybe some people didn't like it, but a lot of other people really gave them a lot of credit for smarts.

KING: Randal, what job are you going to have now?

PINKETT: Well, Larry, I'll be working in Atlantic City renovating some of Mr. Trump's casinos down in Atlantic City. I'm from New Jersey. I live in New Jersey, so this won't require that I relocate. I've been a big fan of Mr. Trump's work in the state of New Jersey. And I'm looking forward to getting involved.

KING: Do they pick their own job, Donald?

TRUMP: Well, they're involved with a lot of my great people in Atlantic City. We have a great staff and a great team. And Randal's going to be involved with that team. And he's going to learn a lot.

And I would be very surprised, frankly--you know, as you know Bill has been with me now two years, and he's going to be extended for another year. He wants to stay. And Kelly's done a great job. And Kendra's doing a good job. I wouldn't be surprised if Randal is with me for many years to come. But I would certainly hope so.

KING: Rebecca, why would you want to work for Donald Trump?

JARVIS: Well, I have said it from the beginning. The reason I would like to work for Mr. Trump is because I think he is one of the ultimate businessmen. He's seen absolute highs and lows. And he has continuously persevered through tough times and through great times.

So he's got a lot to teach to, I think, from his example and that's exactly why I would like to work for him.

KING: But his name commands his organization. There's nobody else in the organization as well known as Trump or close to it.

JARVIS: Certainly.

KING: Doesn't that humble you a little?

JARVIS: Well, you know, I'm 24 years old. So it is easy to be humbled in this world, right?

KING: So you're a journalist, essentially? Would you like to continue doing that?

JARVIS: Oh, I love what I do as a financial journalist. I love the ability to be able to ask any person, any person, any question.

KING: Have you written about Donald Trump?

JARVIS: That's against my ethics.

KING: All right. We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments.

Tomorrow night, sensational show. Erik Menendez from prison. We'll be right back.


PINKETT: I was not at all aware or familiar with the extent to which autism has become and is becoming a very prevalent issue and a very prevalent problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, here you could see that in a carnival atmosphere, that there is a genuine man that's committed to autism and the lives that it affects.

TRUMP: Thank you, everybody for coming out. And Randal, congratulations, it looks like you have it well under control. Come here Randal. Good. Thank you.



KING: We have a few minutes remaining.

Randal Pinkett when Mr. Trump hit with you offer, naturally you didn't expect it to come. And when you answered, did you realize when you answered that there would be some criticism?

PINKETT: Well, I have to say I've been a bit surprised by the reaction. I didn't expect that the reaction would be as strong as it's been. I think it's really been a polarizing issue.

As Mr. Trump said, some people receive e-mails and they say, you know, you stuck to your guns. The show is about the apprentice. I respect your decision. And then others believe it would have been a nice gesture to bring her into the fold at that particular time as a co-apprentice.

You know, I feel very comfortable that if anyone looks down the line at how we compare to previous finalists on the show, to me, I was the clear-cut winner along every objective criteria that one could imagine. And so I feel comfortable of the decision, but again think the world of Rebecca and believe that she is fantastic. And Rebecca knows that.

KING: A very self-confident man. Were you surprised when Mr. Trump did it?

JARVIS: Well, absolutely very surprised when Mr. Trump did it. Who wouldn't be? I think everyone was.

KING: Did you expect Randal to say yes?

JARVIS: I did. I did.

KING: You did even though you know him as a pretty self- confident...

JARVIS: Oh, absolutely.

KING: ...pretty hard lining person.

JARVIS: Why would it be a knock to self-confidence to point out talent when you see it and to suggest that it should be commended?

KING: Will this change The Apprentice in the future in any way, Donald? Might there be Apprenti?

TRUMP: Well, I think what is happening, as you know, NBC has renewed The Apprentice for two more years, two more seasons. And we're going to do one in New York. We're almost finished with that. And we're going to actually do one in Los Angeles, which I think is going to be exciting. And it's a little bit of a change of pace.

But the interesting thing, I don't think anybody ever believed that this move and this little question that I asked Randal could have ever turned into this controversy. I mean, outside of the war in Iraq and perhaps one or two subjects other than that. I mean, this is like the hot subject in the United States right

now. In all fairness if I said you're both hired or if Randal said go ahead and get her. We wouldn't be on your program right now, probably.

KING: Right.

TRUMP: This thing has turned out to be so unbelievably controversial. And that's both good and bad, Larry. That's not all good. It is both good and bad.

But Randal did something that was very brave. He did something that I believe he knew probably wasn't going to be the most popular decision. I was looking at Rebecca. I was staring right at her very beautiful face. And she was happy as can be when I asked Randal that question because I think Rebecca thought he was going to say yes. And, by the way, so did i.

He chose a very tough path. And a lot of people think it was a very, very hard business decision and that's not said in a negative way but in a positive way.

KING: Very well said. Donald, we'll see you on the 4th.

TRUMP: OK, Larry.

KING: Randal, good luck in your future endeavors, sticking by your guns. Thanks for being with us.

PINKETT: Thank you. Thank you.

KING: And Rebecca, it's the best thing that ever happened to you. Trust me. Your name is up in lights.

JARVIS: Thank you.

KING: Best thing. Rebecca Jarvis, Donald Trump, Randal Pinkett.

Tomorrow night, Erik Menendez. He's in prison for life. He's on our program.

And right now we turn the tables--no, we don't turn the tables. We turn over them. Next is "Anderson Cooper 360," "AC 360," coming at you right now. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT

© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines