Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump says he is 'more serious than ever before' about his 2016 US presidential bid, declining to host another season of reality TV show 'Celebrity Apprentice'.
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, Trump said he had enlisted strategists to advise him in three key states. He has also told GOP officials that he was seeking the Republican nomination.
As for his television career, Trump said he couldn't commit to hosting NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice', which was renewed for a 15th season.
"NBC has said they want to renew," Trump told The Washington Post. "But I can’t do it right now because I may be doing something else."
The 68-year-old toyed with the idea in 2011, but eventually decided against the presidential run. This time, however, Trump has formalised his interest.
“I am more serious about this than I’ve ever been before," Trump said. "Everybody feels I’m doing this just to have fun or because it’s good for the brand. Well, it’s not fun. I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble."
Trump said he wanted to reach US voters fed up with the current political system.
"People around the world are laughing at us," he said. "Look at China, they’re killing us, taking our jobs. We have weakness in the Middle East and with ISIS. We have incompetent people running the country and I’m tired of it."
The Washington Post reports that Corey R. Lewandowski, a former director of voter registration at Americans for Prosperity, was enlisted as senior political advisor and manager for Trump's campaign-in-waiting in January.
"The dysfunction of Washington and politics as usual drew me away from other candidates and toward someone who’s gotten something done in the business world," Lewandowski told The Post. "Wait and see. Mr Trump is going to reintroduce himself to the American public. This is going to be a real contest and no one wants to see a coronation."
Some social media users have reacted to Trump's announcement with incredulity and excitement.