Before introducing Donald Trump at the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast, "The Apprentice" producer Mark Burnett reflected on his long friendship with the President, which he referred to as "one of the greatest relationships of my life."
Burnett, who gave the keynote speech along with his wife, "Touched by an Angel" actress Roma Downey, at last year's breakfast, first shared how Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal" inspired him in the 1980's.
"It got me going in business, and I started a little show called 'Survivor,'" he said. "It took the country by storm, and after a few years, I was producing the finale of 'Survivor'."
Burnett, who is also behind "The Bible" series, finally met Trump at the "Survivor" finale, which was filmed in New York's Central Park at the Trump-Wollman ice rink.
"He came and found me, shook my hand, gave me his private office number, and said, 'I like you. Call me, let's do something one day,'" Burnett recalled.
Six months later, Burnett came up with the idea of creating a show about business - "The Apprentice" - and felt Trump would be a great host: "I need someone really dynamic to be the headliner to run the show. Someone who's inspiring, who's not afraid - I need a real winner," Burnett recalled telling himself.
Trump headline the show, and rest is history.
Burnett has come under fire in the past for his friendly relationship with the President, particularly after he refused to release footage from the "Apprentice" set that some some former crew members say could land Trump in hot water. Over the weekend, Burnett was reportedly booed by celebrities while accepting PGA award for outstanding producer of competition television for "The Voice."
However, following the release of an 11-year-old hot mic tape in which Trump said lewd things about women, Burnett released a statement saying: "I am NOT 'Pro-Trump.' Further, my wife and I reject the hatred, division and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign."
Nevertheless, in his speech on Thursday, Burnett praised Trump and said "The Apprentice" began fourteen years of a "relationship building a highly successful global franchise...where we have never had single bad word between us."
"Everything that comes up in business, we just deal face to face - no lawyer, no accounts, deal with it straightforwardly," Burnett said. "It's been one of the greatest relationships of my life."
In turn, President Trump referred to Burnett, who also produced "Celebrity Apprentice", as a "special, special friend," and called Downey a "beautiful person."
The National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly event held in Washington, D.C., on the first Thursday of February each year. The Fellowship Foundation-sponsored event draws politicians, faith leaders and dignitaries in Washington and dates back to the Eisenhower era,