Trump to Moderate a GOP Debate: This Will Not Be 'The Apprentice'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 2, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A surprise announcement from Donald Trump. He's taken a new job. No, he's not running for president or even vice president! Donald Trump has signed on to moderate a Republican presidential debate, and he says this debate will be different. We suspect he's right about that one. We spoke to Donald Trump earlier tonight.


VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to talk to you again, Donald.


VAN SUSTEREN: OK, you surprised me. What a stunner. We saw each other yesterday, and I had no information that you're going to now be moderating a debate on December 27th in Des Moines. How did that come about?

TRUMP: Well, I got a call from the people at Newsmax, which is a great group, and the Ion folks, who I guess they reach 100 million people, a very large television network. And they came to see me and asked whether or not I'd be willing to do it. And it is a little bit of a change and a little bit of something different for me. And I said, yes, I would do it. I want to see what's going on. I mean, we want to get the right person in there. There's no question about that. So I agreed to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, one of the responses already, even though the news is basically -- hot off the press -- is from Governor Huntsman, and his campaign spokesperson says "We have declined to participate in the presidential apprentice debate with the Donald. The Republican Party deserves a serious discussion of the issues so voters can choose a leader," and it goes on and on and on. I see that as dis of you. Do you read it that way?

TRUMP: He has no chance of winning anyway so that's good because we can have more time for the people who are a serious candidates. And the other thing is Governor Huntsman called my office asking for a meeting and I didn't call him back, which I could have and should have. But he called my office asking for a meeting, and I'm sure, being a Mormon, he will absolutely confirm that. So that's one of those things.

I don't know about the other candidates, but I think most of them would want to do it. I think it would get high ratings and we have some very serious questions.

VAN SUSTEREN: I've heard it also reported you're going to endorse afterwards. Just to go back to this Governor Huntsman thing, can we assume he is not getting your endorsement at all if he won't participate in the debate, or shouldn't I make that assumption?

TRUMP: I don't know Governor Huntsman. I like him. He seems to be a nice man. I just don't know him. And frankly I don't like his policy on China because he wants to us roll over. His policy on China is so weak I couldn't possibly endorse him. So he would be one of the people I would have been able to endorse under any circumstances.

VAN SUSTEREN: The report you're going to endorse after, tell me what the definition or "after" is. Is that later the night or two or three weeks --

TRUMP: It's sometime after the debate. Newt is coming up to see me on Monday morning. But I won't be doing an endorsement before the debate, but after the debate, sometime after the debate, I would be certainly going to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you thought about the format? Do you think it will be different or what we're accustomed to?

TRUMP: I really think we should stop with all the formalities. I watch the different moderators get up and explain what the debate is about. It's a waste of time. A debate is a debate. We'll have a debate on the issues. We'll be talking about things like, as an example, OPEC, where nobody is talking about OPEC at the debates, or very little. China. India, other countries that are just taking our lurch right out of our mouths, and it's a terrible thing that's happening to this country.

So we'll be talking about very important issues and talking about social issues and environmental issues maybe to a lesser extent, but we'll be talking about environmental issues and talking about lots of different things.

But one of the big things I believe and one of the big reasons that everybody comes up to my office is because I do have millions of people that agree with me, that the rest of the world -- you know, it used to be the opposite. But now the rest of the world is just absolutely taking advantage of the United States, and that should not be happening.

VAN SUSTEREN: If other candidates follow suit with Governor Huntsman and they will not participate in your debate, is that to you a sign that that is someone you would not endorse? Is that sufficient reason not to endorse that person?

TRUMP: It sounds like it would be on the way. There is no question about that. No, look, News Max is a very powerful organization. Ion is I think the number one private television network and reach over 100 million people. I think it will do very well.

I can understand why Jon Huntsman won't partake. I have been a little harsh on him, harsh on his views on China. I heard him two weeks ago during one of your debates talking about China and it was like a total rollover. And that's not what we need because they're taking the money right out our pockets. And we can't allow that to happen.

So it's possible that others might not do it, but it's also possible that everybody will. We'll probably have a very large audience.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, on Monday, speaker Gingrich is coming to see you. I'm curious -- I'm sure he will discuss the debate with you on Monday. If Governor Romney, the other front-runner, says I'm not going do it for whatever reason, a scheduling conflict or just because I'm busy that night or I have other responsibilities, or that he may join with Governor Huntsman and be a little bit harsher, would that be a reason for you to say, no, to Governor Romney in terms of an endorsement?

TRUMP: I don't think he would say no. He is a very smart man. He knows, and whether people like it or not, I get very high ratings on television. That's why I have had a show so successful for 12 seasons.

VAN SUSTEREN: But if you believe that and they won't bother to show up for your debate, and if you believe that you represent the feelings of millions, that wouldn't have any bearing on your thoughts on your endorsement?

TRUMP: I think they'll show up. They're smart and know we have a huge audience and will show up. This is a serious debate. Some said, this will be "The Apprentice." The fact is this is a serious debate, and a lot of people will be watching and I do believe they will mostly show up.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think the viewers are going to think -- the debates fit into one particular mold, a certain number of people ask the questions. This is something very different. This is a businessman who is moderating it. How do you think that the American people will view this debate?

TRUMP: Well, I think they're going to like it. I think they're going to watch it. I think we're going to ask some questions that haven't been asked, some important question. Little credence has been given to the outside world and what the outside world is doing to this country and to our great country. And I think that's going to be a big part of the debate. There will be other issues we discuss and we'll discuss all the main issues. But I think we're going to have a large audience and some very good questions.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me do the honor of booking. Will you join ON THE RECORD after the debate?

TRUMP: Absolutely. I wrote beautifully about your in my book, so I have no choice.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm told I can't talk about the new book until next week. It comes out next week.

TRUMP: I reveal one thing right now. I speak very well of Greta, OK? That one thing I can reveal. I have just broken something. The publisher must be furious. I say great things about you, and I mean it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Donald. Nice to talk to you.

TRUMP: Thank you, Greta.