CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Donald Trump; Interview With Mary J. Blige

Aired December 7, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, what's the deal with Donald Trump? He's moderating a GOP debate but three candidates have dropped out already.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've already set our calendar in December and I communicated to Mr. Trump that that schedule is completed.

MORGAN: Does anyone still want the Trump seal of approval?

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL AND TELEVISION PERSONALITY: The debate is December 27th. I'm looking to endorse somebody after that debate.

MORGAN: Has the Donald overstayed his political welcome?

Tonight, I'll ask Donald Trump himself.

Plus, the extraordinary life and times of the queen of hip-hop and soul. Mary J. Blige.

MARY J. BLIGE, HIP-HOP ARTIST: I was dying. It was over. I was going to die. It didn't -- it didn't matter. But I didn't want to die.

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. I've got to know Donald Trump pretty well over the last few years, and I can tell you he's a man who's used to being number one. Now he's getting flak from members of the Republican Party who are saying he's dumbing down the political dialogue in this country.

Tonight I'll give him a chance to respond. His latest book, "It's Time to Get Tough: Making America Number One Again." And I'm delighted to say Donald Trump joins me again now.

Donald, you're getting it in the neck a bit from your own people, really, the Republican candidates, who seem to be cueing up to have a pop at you. Why is that and do you care?

TRUMP: Well, I don't really care, but I don't think I'm getting it too much. I think most people are totally in favor. We've had a great response. I have millions and millions of people on my Web sites, and they all want me to do something. And they want me to have debates. And as you know, a very, very good group of people, Newsmax, which is a big group and a powerful group, asked me if I'd moderate the debate, and I will, if they want me to do that, and they certainly have strongly suggested it.

But it certainly has gotten press. There's no question about it. But I consider it a great honor. We have -- as you know, Newt has accepted and Rick Santorum has accepted. A couple, we're waiting to see. I think there's a lot of pressure on a lot of people, frankly. I think they're under tremendous strain and tremendous pressure.

I was disappointed that Mitt Romney, who's been up to see me at Trump Tower and called me, and, you know, we've had numerous calls, wants very much to have my endorsement. I was actually very disappointed that he didn't do the debate. I was actually surprised. He's a good guy, but I was actually surprised that he didn't do the debate.

MORGAN: Yes, I was surprised about that. Because I don't really understand what the big problem is, other than a bit of snobbery because you're not a conventional moderator. You're not a journalist or a TV host. But what you are is one of America's most successful business people. And I don't actually see any problem in you hosting a debate like this. I would imagine you would have some rather good questions for them.

TRUMP: Well, I know a lot of the moderators and some are wonderful, and some aren't, but I know the issues better than the moderators, that I can tell you. Every issue better than the moderators. And I think it would be interesting. And you know I'm somebody that built a great -- I mean, my book really explains it. I built a great business.

And I actually -- in my financial disclosure forms, I actually printed the summary sheets in the book. And so people can see what a great company I've built. A tremendous net worth, tremendous cash and very little debt. And that's what the country needs, frankly, on a larger scale.

So, you know, I think I know the whole deal, and it would be, and I assume it's going to in some -- in some form take place. I think it will be very successful and I think it will be very, very well viewed.

MORGAN: Did Mitt Romney call you himself to say he wasn't going to take part?

TRUMP: Yes, he did.

MORGAN: And what did he -- what did he say?

TRUMP: Well, he couldn't have been nicer. I mean, he said, Donald, I am so busy, and that day, I had roped off for something else. And you know, could not have been nicer. But, still, I was surprised. Because I think it would have been -- as you know, I get very good ratings. You're a good example of it, OK? I mean you --

MORGAN: Yes. Absolutely. TRUMP: You did so well on the --

MORGAN: Every time.

TRUMP: On the "Celebrity Apprentice." And we got great ratings and I get great ratings. And frankly, this debate, with the right people in it, would be very, very successful. And you know, one of the things just been thinking to myself, I think he's a terrific guy, but he is now down in the polls. And I know one thing, if I were down in the polls, I'd want to do every debate I could.

MORGAN: Let's move to a couple of the others who really did say some extraordinary things. Jon Huntsman said, "We have declined to participate in the presidential apprentice debate with the Donald. I won't kiss his ring or any other part of his anatomy."

TRUMP: Well, I think it's just a figure of speech. And look, he's disappointed because he's having a hard time really getting numbers. And I think -- I'll be honest. I don't know him at all, but he actually looks like a nice guy and he seems like a nice guy. And as I was telling somebody before, he's been very good to the Wharton School of Finance, which is the school I went to, which I think is the best business school anywhere in the world.

And the Wharton School is great and he supports it, so I like that. But I don't know him at all. He just seems like a nice guy and I think he's under a lot of pressure. But he does seem good.

MORGAN: So you're not going to miss him kissing any part of your anatomy?

TRUMP: No, I won't miss that at all. Believe me.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Ron Paul called the event beneath the Office of the Presidency, which is a criticism a few people have come up with that because you host the "Celebrity Apprentice" and so on, this makes it a form of a reality show. What do you say to those critics in particular?

TRUMP: Well, you have to understand, the reason I host "Celebrity Apprentice" and "The Apprentice" and it's become one of the top shows on television, and as you know, many nights, in fact, for a period of time, it was the number one show on television, and continues to get great ratings.

The reason I host it and the reason I'm a so-called, as they say, reality star, is because of my success. And that has nothing to do with television. That has to do with real estate and business. And that's why I was chosen to do it. Now maybe there are some other reasons also. You know, whatever they may be. Whatever it takes.

But -- so I host this show, and it's a great show, because of my success in business. So I like to think of myself as a businessman. When you look at my numbers in the book that show over $7 billion in net worth, that hasn't been taken too long to build, relative to other families and companies, et cetera, and you look at the kind of cash I have. Almost $300 million in cash. And when you look at the low debt, which is really what the country should be striving for, is low debt, lots of cash, tremendous worth, instead of owing $15 trillion, which is where we are right now as a country.

So I think that, you know, when somebody says Trump is a reality star and he shouldn't be hosting a debate, I'm only a reality star because I built a great company.

MORGAN: I couldn't agree more. I'm going to play a clip from Jon Stewart from "The Daily Show" last night. He was in euphoric mood when he heard that you were hosting a debate.

Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED). This guy is moderating a debate. If the people in the debate he's moderating don't satisfy him, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), he's jumping in himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So he's chortling away at you there, Donald. Do you care? Do you find him funny?

TRUMP: I don't -- I think he's OK. I mean, to be honest, I don't get the humor. You know he's got something going, I guess, because he's got a little bit of an audience, not a big audience, but I don't get his humor too much. You know I think he's fine. I watch him on occasion. But I wouldn't say he's one of the funny men that I've ever heard.

MORGAN: Let's turn to Newt Gingrich.

TRUMP: But he's OK.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich has accepted the invitation to come to the debate. He is the frontrunner. He is, right now, potentially the guy who will win the nomination. So you've got the main man.

TRUMP: Right.

MORGAN: Talk about Newt Gingrich for a moment. What do you think of him?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, the debate is a Newsmax debate and that's a very powerful organization, and they really are, and they've done an amazing job. It's not a Trump debate, it's Newsmax, and they asked me if I'd do it.

I am really impressed with Newt. I'm impressed from where he came. I'm impressed with the way he's handling himself. Even as an example, the debate, I mean he was decisive, he was quick. He said, you know, this is a great opportunity to get some strong views on whether -- it's China, he knows that China and the world are ripping us off. That's frankly a very big part of what I'm all about because I see this country, it's being eaten alive from the outside. And that is by OPEC and China and South Korea, and virtually any country you want to name, we're being just taken to the cleaners.

You know, it used to be the other way, Piers. It used to be that we were great, we were strong, we were powerful, and now, all of a sudden, it's a whole different thing. It's a whole big different thing. And it's not that way anymore. Now everybody takes our lunch. We used to do it the opposite way, when we were strong and when we were great. So it's too bad, but that's the way it is.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich said an interesting thing this week. He went after this whole issue of child labor, saying that lots of these kids in inner cities in particular aren't brought up to understand what an honest day's work is. That the only kind of work they experience when they're young tends to be of an illegal kind. And he got hammered for it.

I thought he made a few good points. What is wrong, inherently, with young Americans in these troubled areas learning the value of a dollar? What did you think of his point that he made?

TRUMP: Well, I don't think he said it the way you said it. I think he said something very different. He was talking about examples and people to look up to. And he was saying that, you know, many of these children don't have people to look up to. People that leave the house early in the morning and come back late because they've been working hard all day.

And he took a little bit of heat from that from some people and a lot of people agree with him. I happen to agree with him. I mean, this is a society where you have to get out there and you have to work. I mean, one of the problems we have in this country is, as I told you before, other people taking advantage of us.

But everybody has to get out there and work. And he was talking about examples. He was using examples. And people need examples. I had a great example. My father was a very, very hard worker. He really worked. And I watched that and, you know, he enjoyed his life. He really liked his life. He was happy.

But he was happiest working. And I would see that growing up. And it was like by osmosis, I would sort of say, hey, that's pretty cool, and I love working. So I don't think what he said was at all bad, and a lot of people agree with that, but some people disagree.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, just to clarify, he did talk about the role model thing, but he also said that the child labor laws are truly stupid. That children in poor neighborhoods don't have the habit of working, nor getting paid for their endeavors unless it's illegal. So he did -- he made that other point, too, which, you know, has gotten him into hot water. But at least he's thinking, I guess, about the way to get people back to work. Let's have a break, Donald. When we come back, I want to talk to you about time to get tough. What you would do as one of America's top and most successful employers to get these unemployment figures right down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with my special guest, Donald Trump.

Donald, Barack Obama this week came out with a big speech, basically saying that the middle classes have been let down in this country, that it's time to tax the rich more and to extend tax breaks, effectively, tax cuts, for the middle classes. What do you think of that as a principle?

TRUMP: Well, he's really playing the class warfare very hard. I've been watching -- I watched the speech, actually, and I guess from his standpoint, it's the way he's going to go, because not a lot of good things are happening with our country, in terms of the economy and what's going on.

And even if you look at the recent job numbers, where 315,000 people gave up, and therefore they don't include them as unemployed, which is ridiculous. But you know a lot of things aren't going really right for him. So he's going with class warfare. Probably a very smart for him in terms of getting elected, but a really bad thing for the country.

MORGAN: You know, a lot of CEOs have come out saying they don't disagree with what he's saying in principle. That maybe there should be a slide in taxation rate with the rich paying more, and you said this yourself, and you said in the book, but they don't like the tone, they don't like the rhetoric because it does smack of class warfare.

Is there a better way for him to say the same thing?

TRUMP: Well, I think there are a lot of better ways. And as far as taxes are concerned, it's a very dangerous time to be raising taxes. Because frankly, the rich and -- you know, if you want to say the rich, but we already pay and corporations in this country are actually the heavily -- the most heavily taxed companies in the world, OK?

We're literally number one or number two on every list. And -- so a lot of taxes are being paid. The problem we have is spending. The money gets spent far faster than they can get it. You know when you owe $15 trillion, when you're borrowing from other countries, all of a sudden this country is like in a different ball game from where it was.

So it's a pretty tough situation, but it's a very fragile economy and it's a very, very dangerous time to be raising taxes. That I can tell you.

MORGAN: There were two things that happened last week, which were significant. One is the stock market enjoyed its best week performance wise since Barack Obama became president in '09. And secondly, the employment figures fell to the lowest level since he became president.

Both of those things, whoever way you get into the detail, are clearly good news for him, because if it had gone the other way, it would be bad news.

What do you read into that? Is there any momentum now building even slowly in the American economy, or is this false hope, do you think?

TRUMP: Well, I hope there's momentum. I mean it's been a long time and I hope there's some momentum. The employment numbers are very dangerous to look at because of the amount of people that quit. And under the new way of calculating, if you're looking for a job and you stop, they don't put you -- I mean it's ridiculous, but they don't consider you to be unemployed.

So if you add those numbers back in, those numbers are much different than the numbers reported. Look, I hope the economy is getting better. Certainly, I mean, between interest rates being very low and other things. The problem that we also have is banks. Banks don't loan money.

If somebody wants to buy a house, it's virtually impossible to get the money from a bank. And it's -- even if they have good credit. Even when mortgages are coming due, and people that have been paying a mortgage for 10 and 15 and 20 years, they can't get money or they can't get an extension from a bank. So the banks are really not behaving properly, that can I tell you.

MORGAN: Whenever you come on my show, Donald, I'm always very grateful that you do, and you talk a lot of sense, I get more reaction to you than I do to almost any other guest. And some of it is negative, most of it, I'd say, is positive from real people.

The media give you, I think, an irrationally kind of what I call a caricature image. But when I hear you talk like this, I hear somebody who has flirted with the idea of running for president many times, but who -- you know, by your own admission, you said if you looked at the situation around this time and there was a still kind of lack of a real potential winner here against Barack Obama, you would be tempted, seriously, to run.

Aren't we in that situation? I mean, are you not genuinely tempted?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I never flirted many times. People have always wanted me to run, I never wanted to, I never flirted at all. And then four years ago or eight years ago, I looked at it just briefly for a period of a few days, and just decided it wasn't -- I really like what I'm doing, as you know, probably better than most.

So, you know, I'm going to see what happens. Number one, let's look at the economy and let's see where the economy is going. I don't think the economy is going to get much better. And possibly, it's going to get much worse. We're going to have to see. But more importantly, right now, you have to see who is going to be the Republican candidate.

I'm going to endorse somebody, Piers, fairly soon. And depending on how that person does, or if they pick somebody else, doesn't have to be endorsed by me, that I think is good, I would not run. I'd be very happy not to run.

If, on the other hand, they pick somebody that's not going to win or that's not going to do a good job, which is possible, that could happen, then I might very well look at running. But I never really looked at it before. This is the first time I looked at it very seriously.

And as you know, I was leading in the polls when I got out. And the only reason I got out is you have equal time provisions, where I'm not allowed to have this very successful show and run for president. It's sort of unfair, because the president can go on Jay Leno and he can go on your show and he can go on any other show and there's no equal time.

But if I have a show or anybody has a show, and especially a very high-profile, successful show, you're not allowed to run, essentially, because of the equal time provision. So when I got out, I was leading in the polls. And I'm very honored by that. In fact, I was watching "Meet the Press" the day before the up-fronts from NBC and it had Trump at the top of the polls, and I'm saying, what am I doing?

But, you know, if the Republicans choose somebody great, I have no interest in impeding them. That I can tell you.

MORGAN: And would it be fair to say that right now it would be pretty unthinkable that you would endorse anybody outside of Romney or Gingrich?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say that. I just don't really want to get into that. Because over the next few weeks, I'm going to make an endorsement, and I don't want to give any clues. A lot of people are looking for who I'm going to be endorsing, and I just don't want to get into that quite yet.

But they do have some excellent people. I'm not saying all of them, but they have some excellent people running or trying to run, and we'll see what happens. I've gotten to know most of them. I respect many of them. And I'll make an endorsement some time over the next three or four weeks.

MORGAN: Would you consider being a vice president to any of these candidates?

TRUMP: I don't think so. I mean, again, I love what I'm doing. My company has never done better, even though times are bad, I've sort of made some pretty wise decisions. And I just love what I'm doing. I love the real estate business, I love all of the businesses I'm in. And I don't see it, but, you know, I would do anything that's good for this country. If somebody told me that whatever they wanted me to do, it was going to be great for the country or good for the country, I would do it. I think, frankly, they should have me or somebody like me negotiating with foreign countries or trade pacts because whoever is negotiating our trade pacts is doing a horrible job.

When China makes $350 billion this year, when Colombia makes $400 billion, when all of these countries -- everybody makes. And you know we can't have a great country and we're not going to have a rich country, when you talk about Social Security, when you talk about Medicare and Medicaid, all of those problems go away -- I mean, you make adjustments and everything else, but they go away with a really strong country and a strong economy.

So, you know, what they should have somebody like me doing is leading a negotiation of trade pacts because we are being hurt badly by incompetent people.

MORGAN: If one of these Republican candidates came to you and they became president next November, for argument's sake, and they said, look, Donald, we would like you to now be the trade negotiator for America, with China, with OPEC, and so on, would you take that job?

TRUMP: Well, I certainly would consider that, because we need that. That's so vital. I can't believe some of the deals -- I mean, you look at the deal that we made with South Korea recently. You look at some of the other deals. I'm saying, do we have anybody even negotiating for us? It's inconceivable.

And you know, I was very honored the other day, Michele Bachmann said, no, no, I'd want Donald Trump to be my vice president. I'm sitting here watching this television show or debate or whatever was going on and she immediately announced Trump as vice president. I've had others say we'd like him to negotiate our pacts.

The fact is, I do a great job -- I really would. It's a strength. I'm very good at it. I would do a great -- and I'd do it in a friendly manner. But I would do a great job at negotiating great deals for this country with respect to other countries who are now just eating our lunch.

MORGAN: Let's take a final break, Donald, and just come back very quickly and talk about Lady Gaga, because in your book, you seem to be claiming full credit for her glorious career. I want to find out why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back now with my guest, Donald Trump.

Donald, it's a fascinating book, as all your books, of course, are. That's why they sell so many. A great story in there about Lady Gaga that she, apparently, may owe her success to you.

TRUMP: Well, that's not true. She owes it to her talent and her drive. But it was interesting, four or five years ago, I owned the Miss Universe Pageant, and we choose talent for sort of like our halftime. And it's been an amazing thing. We've found some amazing people.

And sometimes they're big stars and everybody wants to do it. And then sometimes it's a young, aspiring talent. And in this case, it was Vietnam -- I think it was probably close to five years ago and we put Lady Gaga on. Now we don't even pay them anything. But it broadcast all over the world. And she went on and there was like a frenzy. Everybody wanted to know who was the entertainer on the show because as you know it's broadcast again all over the world and, you know, live in the United States, et cetera, et cetera.

And they weren't saying who won the contest, who was -- they were saying who was the entertainer. It was Lady Gaga. And then she really -- I think it was a tremendous boost. And then what happened is, about a year ago, when she did a huge show at Radio City Music Hall, I was sitting in the audience with a tremendous number of major celebrities, and her manager came up to me after the show, Mr. Trump, Gaga wants to see you in the back. Nobody else, nobody else.

It was a little embarrassing to me. But she was -- she was great. She hasn't forgotten then. I know and she's a terrific person. And a great talent. But we put her on the Miss Universe contest, and to be honest with you, she was amazing. And the next day everybody wanted to know who the hell was that.

MORGAN: Yes, she' s a phenomenal talent.

TRUMP: Great entertainment.

MORGAN: You got this debate coming up in -- the debate is coming in three weeks, Donald. Before we go, I just want to get a little inkling on what you're going to ask these guys who do turn up, Gingrich and the others. What do you think the key issues are?

TRUMP: Well, I think there are a lot of key issues. You can talk about health care. You can talk about Obamacare, what the views are and everything else. But a lot of it you've heard but you can also talk about OPEC and you can talk about how OPEC is just ripping off this country and how everybody is ripping off the country and that's something I haven't seen in the debates.

And honestly, I haven't heard it from President Obama. They don't talk about it. They're not talking about what's happening on the outside of our country, where they're just eating us alive and we can't allow it to continue to happen or we're not going to have a country.

So I find that it's been very, very weakly touched on and it should be one of the most important things. When you talk about jobs and we're outsourcing to India, and outsourcing to everywhere, why can't we have those jobs in our communities? In Alabama and in Iowa, and Nebraska? Why do we -- why are we doing outsourcing to India? You call up for a credit card and you want to find information half the time somebody picks up the phone and their stationed in India. What's going on? Why do we do that and why do we create incentives for that? So I'd get into that very much because ultimately employment is never going to be down if we're going to continue to do this.

MORGAN: And you're going to give them a hard time, Donald, if they start taking you on and shirking the questions?

TRUMP: No, I don't think I -- look, first of all I know them. And I respect them. And honestly I don't see giving them a hard time.

We have a problem, Piers. We have a country that's in serious, serious trouble. And somebody and something has to be done about it.

MORGAN: Well, strong words, Donald. It's a good book, "Time To Get Tough, Making America Number One Again."

And I will, for one, be watching that debate with great interest. I think it will be great -- great sport, great entertainment, good politics. And there's nothing wrong with that. So good luck with it.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Piers.

MORGAN: Coming up, a very emotional interview with the queen of hip-hop soul, chart-topping Mary J. Blige.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: She's won nine Grammys. She's sold an incredible 50 million records. Mary J. Blige's life has been blessed with great success, but there have been tough times too, including battles with drugs and alcohol, as well as depression and difficult relationships.

But through it all, she makes ground-breaking music. Mary joins me now. Welcome, Mary.

MARY, J. BLIGE, GRAMMY AWARD WINNING SINGER: Thank you.

MORGAN: You have a great reputation of being a Diva. Do you like that?

BLIGE: Well, if the title -- if the word Diva means hard work, a woman that knows what she wants, and won't take no for an answer, I don't mind being that.

MORGAN: When are you at your most Diva-like? When do you really lose it?

BLIGE: I mean, I don't ask for much, you know. And the little things that I do ask for, I'm not screaming people's heads off. You know, I'm very calm.

MORGAN: But what really annoys you? Because you have to perform at such a high level all the time, and that brings with it huge added pressure on you, because you're the one that gets the reviews. You're the one that gets hammered by the press and so on. What are the little things that can really drive you bonkers?

BLIGE: If my dressing room is cold.

MORGAN: I understand. I will get people hung, drawn and quartered. How cold does it have to be before you explode?

BLIGE: If it's freezing, you know, if it's like super cold, uncomfortable. Because I'm always cold anywhere. So if it's cold, just uncomfortable for me.

MORGAN: What are the key rider requirement if I'm booking you? What do you have to have?

BLIGE: I have to have lemon and honey. I have to have apple cider vinegar, Braggs. And I have to have either Red Vines or Twizzlers. These things, you know, are the things that help my vocal performance.

So, you know, as far as that, I need that. I don't need M&Ms. I don't need Dr. Pepper. But I need these things right here.

MORGAN: What do Twizzlers do?

BLIGE: Well, the licorice, it moistens your vocal chords. And you can do Gummy Bears as well.

MORGAN: Really? So if I eat loads of Gummy Bears, would I suddenly get a huge voice like you?

BLIGE: I don't think so. I think you'll just have fun eating the Gummy Bears. But, you know, it's for singers. You know, it's just a tip. You know, it kind of keeps you -- it keeps you -- your vocals lubricated. So, you know, I got it from a vocal coach.

MORGAN: Is the reality that if you're in a business that's very competitive and it involves performance, that the awards are kind of the -- you know, they're the icing on the cake. They're the people standing outside saying, yes, we think you are good. Is it that kind of thing that you crave?

BLIGE: It is very important. I definitely still care about awards, because it says to me that everything you're doing is -- you know, it's not in vain. You know, your fans are happy. When my fans are happy and they're like, we love the album you put out, Mary; we love the work that you're doing; we love how you minister to our hearts through strong -- what I do is not just about the music business.

It's what I am. So when -- I'm always really happy about getting an award, because it says, keep doing what you're doing. You're the best at what you do. And your peers and your fans appreciate you for it.

MORGAN: And who do you feel most thankful to when you win these awards? Who are the people you think of first? BLIGE: My first thought is God, thank you, because without you, there is no people. There's no fans. And then my fans. My fans, my peers, the ones that are for me. So I'm thankful to -- and you know, the voters and the people that run the shows.

MORGAN: Which individuals through your life, when you have those moments, come into mind? The individuals who have been there for you when it's really mattered?

BLIGE: I think about my mom, automatically. Thank you, mom. My husband, because he's always there with me all the time. He's my husband and my manager. And we're always in it together, you know? So I think about him.

I think about the label, because they're in it, and all the people that assist us, you know, in getting this record, the project right, all the people that help us, you know, staff of the employees, just --

MORGAN: Tell me about your mum.

BLIGE: My mom's a beautiful woman. And she's had a lot of hard times, you know? She was a single parent mom.

MORGAN: Your dad left when you were four.

BLIGE: Yeah. And she was, you know, pretty damaged herself, but she raised us. She had two jobs. And she did whatever she could do to, you know, I guess raise us the best that she can raise us.

MORGAN: What were the values that meant most to her, do you think, that she instilled in you?

BLIGE: To be clean, to be clean, to keep our bodies clean, to wear clean underwear. So, you know, my mom, we had to really -- we had to clean the house, you know? That was important to her, to have a clean house, have a clean kitchen, you know, clean dishes, you know, clean underwear, without holes.

Yeah, you know, those things were important. And school, she used to stay on us about school. You know, we were kids. It was all about getting to school.

MORGAN: What does she make of what you've achieved?

BLIGE: My mom is very proud of me. She's very, very happy for me.

MORGAN: Is she surprised? Or did she always think that she had a little live wire that had an amazing talent that may one day lead to this?

BLIGE: Well, she's not surprised. She seems to believe that she knew -- I knew, you know. But I think she's a little shocked that, you know, it's gone this far, you know? I don't think -- I think everybody's a little shocked that I've come this far. MORGAN: Are you shocked?

BLIGE: You know, I was. But now, I know, you know, I'm here to stay. My journey continues, because I've, you know, conquered a lot. And I know how to conquer the rest.

MORGAN: Well, what feelings do you have to your father?

BLIGE: I love my dad. We've reconciled, you know. I was hurt earlier in my life over what he had done, you know, leaving us like that, and you know, just with no male figure. And I was pissed for a long time. But, you know, I got over it, because I didn't want to -- I didn't want to walk through my life angry at him, killing myself, you know.

I mean, he didn't know any better either. I mean, that's all I can say. But our relationship right now, we're good. I love him.

MORGAN: Let's have a little break. I want to come back and talk to you about this extraordinary early part of your life. Your new album is called "My Life: Part II." Part One was pretty unbelievable.

BLIGE: Yes.

MORGAN: There was nothing you didn't do, good, bad, and ugly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(SINGING)

MORGAN: That was you at the 2007 Grammys. I mean, that was one of the most incredible performances I have ever watched, by anybody.

BLIGE: Thank you.

MORGAN: You just -- it was like this emotional volcano erupting on stage, wasn't it? What was it like for you, at that moment?

BLIGE: Well, it was exactly that, because I was making a turning point in my life. And it seemed like, you know, when you're trying to turn that corner, no one believes you, you know? No one cares and no one respects it.

And so, you know, with all respect, I was like, OK, I understand, you know, everyone's feelings about everything. And I just did my job. I walked through the fire, spiritually, mentally, physically. And at that moment, you know, so much was going on. So much was going on.

I believe I had just lost an award. And I was just -- I think throughout all of my career, you know, I felt like for a long time, that I had been working so hard, you know? And I just felt like I was so hurt, you know? I was so hurt at the lack of, you know, respect that was shown at that moment. And I was, you know -- I just took it, you know, with all the rest of the problems and things that I had going on in my life. And I just took it and I just used it.

MORGAN: You went through, in many ways, a kind of cliched fame gain experience. You know, you became very successful. The money poured in. It was all going on, drink and drugs and partying. And you were surrounded by hangers-on, whose existence depended on you. And it was all Rolex watches all around and let's get wrecked.

And this is a classic path to ruin, isn't it? How did you get out of it? What was the tipping point for you?

BLIGE: The tipping point was during the "No More Drama" album -- that album cycle, because I feel that I had drank myself -- like that was it. Like I was just, done. I was done. I was dying. It was over. I was going to die. It didn't matter, but I didn't want to die.

MORGAN: But you felt you were going to die?

BLIGE: Yeah, so when it finally happened, I was like, wait a minute, this is not what I want. But subliminally, I was drinking myself to death. But I didn't -- I didn't want it. And what happened was I got a call from a friend, you know, Queen Latifah, who I was working with at the time. And my husband was like -- like, I had -- I had met him I think maybe a month ago in Detroit while working with her.

And that same day -- that same day that I felt like well, that I was going to die, I got a call from him. I got a call from her saying that he wanted to speak to me. And when he called, he said he had some information for me that was going to help me.

And it was like having an infected cut. And when you peel the scab back -- you're going to peel the scab off, the infected scab, and pour some medicine on it. It's going to hurt --

MORGAN: What was the medicine he gave you?

BLIGE: The medicine he gave me? Love. Support. He gave me love and support. And he gave me love and support in a way that I had not gotten it before, because with all of that spiraling around me, and the lack of support, you know, that was in my life before he came in, the yes men, the people just greedy and hungry for a check, and you know, people just letting me drink until I die -- he came with questions.

Why are you drinking so much? Why do you hate yourself? What happened to you? You're better than that. So I've never had anybody approach with me with that kind of love before. And that's what I needed. And that's what triggered in me the love that I have for myself today.

MORGAN: I also -- I remember you saying in an interview once that you look to somebody like Beyonce, and she didn't seem to have any of these hellish troubles. And you realized it was the stability of her family life enabled her to be confident and to have all of those things that you craved.

BLIGE: Uh-huh.

MORGAN: Tell me about that.

BLIGE: Well, I did. I mean, you've got to look at a life like that and you see a mother and a father. And they're with their child. And they're raising her. And they're in the music business with her, where there's so many vultures and people that just don't ever tell you the truth and they want you for what they want you for.

And to look at her life and to just look at how graceful and beautiful and what a lady she is, you know, it just inspired me. It made me a little sad, because it's like I really wish I had that going. I wish my mom and dad were together, you know?

And I wish that they could have saw me through, you know, the music business and managed me. And you know, who knows how much further I'd be and how much hell I wouldn't have had to go through, you know? But they weren't. So that caused all of the stuff that happened from five years old, when my father left. I was just being abused, you know, and not by my mom. My mom was leaving me with baby- sitters.

MORGAN: Who abused you?

BLIGE: Exactly. So, you know -- I mean, so absolutely I was looking --

MORGAN: How much do you feel you owe Martin Kendu Isaacs, your husband now?

BLIGE: I feel that I owe him my love. I owe him --

MORGAN: And your life, potentially?

BLIGE: I don't owe him my life.

MORGAN: But you said he came at a time when you felt you may actually die from what you're doing to yourself.

BLIGE: Yes, I have been -- we are partners. We are partners and I owe him my love and respect, and to make sure that he is treated, you know, kindly and make sure that we look like a team, because we are. But I owe no one my life at all. I will not say that.

MORGAN: When you look at what happened to Amy Winehouse, do you think that could have been you, if things had played out a different way for you?

BLIGE: I know. I know -- I know it could have been me. But the choice that I made was to go -- was to go -- was to look at a spiritual side of what can do in my life and choose that. And I chose that, which was God. And therefore I chose life. I don't think -- you know I think he was a vessel, you know? So I owe God my life through him, but I do not owe any man my life.

MORGAN: Good for you. I'm going to come back after the break and talk to you about your sense of humor, because it's all been a bit serious so far, Mary. Let's have a laugh.

BLIGE: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SINGING)

MORGAN: That was from the HBO "We Are One" concert during President Obama's Inauguration. You were just saying there, you were just so happy, so amped.

BLIGE: Yes, I was.

MORGAN: When a moment for all African-Americans, I mean, around the world, never mine just America, right?

BLIGE: Right. Exactly. How can I say this? From being a little girl in the projects, going through all of the mess that I was going through, to ending up at the Inauguration for the first African- American president, I'm speechless right now because I never thought I'd -- I never ever -- I couldn't even see that far. Even when I ended up in the music business I couldn't see that.

MORGAN: Amazing moment. Pretty amazing for him. An amazing moment for you.

BLIGE: Amazing moment for me and so many little girls like me that have hope right now, that were home looking at that as farfetched. They're like, wow, if Mary can end up there, we can end up there.

MORGAN: Did you talk to him, the president?

BLIGE: I did.

MORGAN: What did you say?

BLIGE: I said I love you. And I'm so happy that you're here. I'm so happy that you had the courage to walk through whatever obstacles you had to walk through and make change.

MORGAN: He's had a baptism of fire as president. It's been a very, very tough time. How do you think he's been dealing with it?

BLIGE: I think he's dealing with it pretty good, given the situation -- the situation he was put in and the mess that was thrown on him. He's dealing with it pretty good.

MORGAN: Do you think he's capable of great things? Do you think, if given another chance, if he's re-elected, he can do perhaps what he wanted to do from the start but has been restricted from doing?

BLIGE: I believe he's capable of doing -- of having another chance. And I -- I just know, you know, that it's a lot, you know? He was given such a big pile of -- here, take that, clean that up. One, you just can't do that in one shot. And I -- I think we have to ride and respect and support him, because that's a lot.

And you know I think his whole -- the whole election, for me, was not just to have the first African-American president. It was to show us the power in numbers. When we believe something, it can come to pass. And we believed in those numbers. You know, we believed that we can have him. And we have him. He's here, you know?

It's -- that's what I believe it was for. So that means we can do anything if we believe that we can do it.

MORGAN: What makes you laugh? I'm told that, you know, beneath the Diva exterior that we see on stage, there's actually an infamous sense of humor you, Mary.

BLIGE: What makes me laugh? Something funny. I don't know what that is. You could say something funny..

MORGAN: Who makes you laugh? On TV or whatever, who makes you laugh?

BLIGE: Larry David makes me laugh.

MORGAN: You're laughing at the thought of it.

Well, Mary, it's been a great pleasure. I love this album.

BLIGE: Thank you.

MORGAN: I'm a shameless fan. You have a fantastic pair of lungs on you. And it's a pair to joy to listen to you and have you on show.

BLIGE: Thank you so much for having me.

MORGAN: Real pleasure.

"My Life II, The Journey Continues," the new album from Mary J. Blige is out now. Thank you very much again.

BLIGE: You're welcome.