February 27. 2015 12:29AM

Trump won't renew 'Apprentice' so that he might focus on a presidential run


Donald Trump speaks to Diane and John Foley of Rochester, the parents of slain NH journalist James Foley, at the Nackey Loeb School's 12th annual First Amendment Awards event held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

  • Would you welcome Donald Trump as a candidate in the 2016 GOP primary?
  • Yes
  • 31%
  • No
  • 69%
  • Total Votes: 1429

Real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump says he is “seriously considering” a run for President and could announce plans to form an exploratory committee in New Hampshire in the coming weeks.

“We could be ready to announce that in early April,” said Trump in a telephone interview Thursday. “I am very seriously considering running. I would expect to make a final decision by early June.”

Trump has created a stir among GOP circles this week, after signing up two men with strong ties to the Granite State and its first-in-the-nation primary.

Trump confirmed he has asked Corey R. Lewandowski, a former director of voter registration at Americans for Prosperity, to serve as senior political adviser and manager for a possible presidential campaign. Lewandowski is expected to coordinate Trump’s efforts in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, as well as a national campaign if Trump were to enter the race. Manchester’s Matt Ciepielowski, a former field director for AFP, would head up Trump’s operations as field director in the Granite State.

“We’ve put together a great team, and there will be more names we’ll be announcing very soon,” said Trump.

Trump said any potential campaign he may launch would be self-funded.

“This company has a strong cash flow,” said Trump. “We would provide the funding ourselves.”

Trump said he has told executives at NBC that he is not prepared to sign on for another season of “The Apprentice” or “Celebrity Apprentice” at this time, as he mulls his political future.

“NBC wants to renew it,” said Trump. “I told them I’m not ready, because I’m involved in something else right now. The show is very popular, and I might be the only person in the history of television to tell a network I’m not ready to renew a show in that situation, but I’m seriously considering running right now.”

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” said Trump. “When you’re a politician, all those guys do is run, run, run, they are all talk and no action. I have a lot of things to take into consideration, but everyone we’ve talked to about running is very excited. We’ve had a great response.”

Trump said the image of the U.S. in the eyes of the rest of the world is one of the reasons he is considering a run.

“People around the world are laughing at this country,” said Trump. “I want to make it great again. We look weak in the Middle East, and how we are handling ISIS. We have incompetent leadership in Washington and people are tired of it. The response we’ve gotten talking to people about a run is tremendous.”

Trump has considered possible runs for President before, without actually entering the race. If he did, Trump would join a crowd of Republicans considering White House runs, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Trump said he has surveyed the GOP field closely in the last few weeks.

“I think what separates me is I have the business experience to turn the economy around,” said Trump. “I have been successful in business. I have had success with money. I have dealt with leaders around the world. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs.”

Weighing in on the local issue of a possible casino in New Hampshire, Trump said proponents of expanded gaming in the Granite State this year should tread lightly.

New legislation has been proposed regarding a casino, SB 113, has been drafted, with Sen. Lou D’ Allesandro, D-Manchester, taking the lead. The bill calls for opening two casinos with no restrictions on locations within the state.

“It’s an issue there that I’ve been watching,” said Trump. “I got out of the casino business at the right time. I made a lot of money, but you look at what’s happening in Atlantic City now and it’s terrible. I would caution anyone on casinos, because I’ll say this — they are not a panacea. They come with their own set of risks and issues. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in New Hampshire.”

Trump is expected to speak today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, the country’s largest gathering of conservatives. He expects to be back in New Hampshire March 19, when he will meet with business leaders and supporters in Amherst, at the home of Republican State Rep. Stephen Stepanek.