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Man claims ‘Apprentice’ was his idea

But producer Mark Burnett says that’s not true
/ Source: The Associated Press

A man who claims NBC Universal, Donald Trump and the creator of NBC’s “The Apprentice” stole his idea has taken his case to state court.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Mark Bethea alleged that he and Velocity Entertainment Group came up with the idea for an unscripted series called “C.E.O.” that would have been hosted by Trump and set in a corporate office environment.

Bethea has filed a similar lawsuit in federal court.

The lawsuit targets Mark Burnett, producer of “Survivor” and “The Contender,” and his partner, Conrad Riggs. It claims Bethea, of Marina del Rey, pitched the idea to Burnett and Riggs in 2001 and they later lifted “substantial and integral material” from “C.E.O.”

NBC referred questions about the lawsuit to Burnett’s production company, which didn’t immediately return a message left Wednesday.

Burnett had disputed Bethea’s claims in the U.S. District Court lawsuit filed in September. Burnett said that he came up with the concept for “The Apprentice” in December 2002, while shooting “Survivor” in the Brazilian rain forest.

Bethea owns the copyright to “C.E.O.” and its idea was registered with the Writers Guild of America in August 2000, the state lawsuit said.