Producers of "The Apprentice" sue Israeli TV for stealing the show concept

The producers of the popular reality TV show "The Apprentice" are suing an Israeli TV station for allegedly stealing their idea, a lawyer said Thursday.

Mark Burnett Productions and Fremantle Media filed suit in a Tel Aviv court this week against the Israeli TV channel Keshet Productions, accusing them of copying "The Apprentice" for the Israeli show "The Ambassador," a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Zohar Lande, confirmed.

The suit alleges that "The Ambassador" copies extensively from the American show, even using the hands of real-estate magnate Donald Trump, host of "The Apprentice," in its promotions.

"The format (of 'The Ambassador') includes all the components and creates the overall look and feel of 'The Apprentice,"' according to the suit.

"The Ambassador" uses the same type of conference room and presents the contestants and rules the same way as "The Apprentice" does, according to the suit. The Israeli show also splits the contestants into competing groups of men and women, just as Trump's show did, the suit alleges.

In "The Ambassador," 14 contestants were forced to present Israel in the best light in front of hostile international audiences - including the Cambridge University Union in England. A panel of judges threw one person thrown off the show each week. The contestant deemed most successful was rewarded with a position with a U.S. Jewish organization.

In "The Apprentice," 18 contestants perform business-related challenges. Trump throws one contestant he judges as the weak link off the show each week, and the winner receives a high-paying job with one of his companies.

Lande's office sent Keshet videos of "The Apprentice" in April 2004 in an effort to sell the show to the Israeli producer, he said.

"We sent them the tapes of "The Apprentice" and they saw them and they said 'We love the show but we don't have the time slots,"' Lande said. "Four months later 'The Ambassador' was on the air."

Fremantle decided to sue Keshet because the Israeli company is preparing to run a second season of the show, the AP reports.

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