Since the public last heard from Billy Bush in October, he's walked on hot coals with Tony Robbins, gone to an intense healing retreat in Northern California, picked up yoga and meditation, and watched — twice — the leaked video from 2005 that showed him laughing along as Donald Trump described grabbing women without their consent.
Following the release of the video, Bush was fired by NBC News while Trump became president, and "the irony is glaring," Bush told The Hollywood Reporter in his first interview in seven months, published Sunday. The former Access Hollywood Live host said he is not sure who leaked the tape to The Washington Post, but "plenty of people" at NBC knew about it, and he first watched it three days before it was posted. The video leaves him "totally and completely gutted," Bush said. "Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. [Trump] liked TV and competition. I could've said, 'Can you believe the ratings on whatever?' But I didn't have the strength of character to do it."
Bush said he was "almost sycophantic" at the time, "wanting celebrities to like me and fit in," and when he interviewed Trump, the former Apprentice host usually brought up three topics: "Golf, gossip, or women." While his friends and family interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter think he got the short end of the stick, with some believing it's because he's part of a political dynasty, Bush disagrees. "The situation happened because I participated in a terrible moment and it became public," he said. "It doesn't matter what your name is. Anyone who is participating in that moment is going to get it. In that way, I deserved it." Bush is ready to be back in the public eye, developing a series that would involve pop culture, sports, and interviews, and wants people to know his "skin is definitely thicker now, and my heart is a little softer underneath it." Read the entire interview, including tidbits about the intense group therapy he attended in the aftermath of his firing, at The Hollywood Reporter.