Donald Trump Asks Jeff Zucker to Give CNN's Debate Ad Profits to Veterans

Donald Trump

GOP presidential candidate also says treatment of U.S. soldiers is "worse, in many cases, than illegal immigrants."

Donald Trump did not mince words on Wednesday morning in an open letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker, asking that the cable news chief donate all profits of the upcoming Sept. 16 GOP debate to U.S. veterans.

"While I refuse to brag, as you very well know, this tremendous increase in viewer interest and advertising is due 100 percent to 'Donald J. Trump,' " wrote the GOP presidential hopeful, citing reported ad rate increases. "You saw it on The Apprentice where it was virtually the easiest show to sell to advertisers on television and at extraordinary rates. In fact, NBC renewed The Apprentice, even though I told them not to because I was running for president (something which did not exactly endear them to me.)"

Regardless of what percentage of viewer interest can be attributed to Trump, his characterization of The Apprentice ratings remains questionable. In January, he told TV critics it was the highest-rated show of Monday nights — when, in fact, it did not even win its time slot.

While some may have expected to Trump to ask for a paycheck to participate in the debate, he is instead calling on Zucker to donate the profits of the ads to "various VETERANS" of his choosing. "The veterans in our country, our finest people, have been treated horribly by our government and its 'all talk and no action politicians,' " writes Trump. "In fact, some would say they are treated like third class citizens — even worse, in many cases, than illegal immigrants."

Trump spoke about his his ratings, and his relationship with Zucker, in The Hollywood Reporter's recent cover story. "Jeff is a friend of mine, but if I didn't get ratings he would not have all Trump all the time," he said. "I kid him about it. He wants to do documentaries. I say, 'Jeff, I don't have time.' But when I go on, the meter jumps. He should pay me a fortune, right? They should all pay me for this. I'm doing this for nothing."

Whether the second GOP debate surpasses the first, it will still likely bring huge numbers. The first, which aired on Fox News Channel in August, broke all non-sports cable ratings records with more than 24 million viewers. It was the most-watched program of TV that week.

Trump concluded the letter, which can be read in full here, by asking to for CNN's decision "as soon as possible." THR has reached out to the network for comment.