Trump would be surprised by Cannes biopic 'The Apprentice,' says director

By Miranda Murray

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Donald Trump would likely be surprised by "The Apprentice," director Ali Abbasi said on Tuesday of his biopic about Trump's early years as a real estate mogul, adding he was open to meeting with the former U.S. president to discuss the film.

"The Apprentice," which shares the name of a reality TV series hosted and produced by Trump that made him a household name, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday, receiving an eight-minute ovation and mixed reviews from critics.

Abbasi said he hoped the film would hit theatres in mid-September, ahead of a November U.S. election that Trump, 77, is contesting as Republican presidential candidate.

"I don't necessarily think that this is a movie that (Trump) would dislike, I don't necessarily think he would like it, I think that he would be surprised," Abbasi, who was born in Iran, said at a news briefing.

Following the premiere, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign said it would be filing a lawsuit against the film over "blatantly false assertions from these pretend filmmakers."

"Everybody talks about him suing a lot of people, they don't talk about his success rate though," said Abbasi when asked about the threat of a lawsuit.

Trump's team should watch the movie "before they start suing us, because I think once you're inside that character, it feels different, and we're inside that character," he said.

The story focuses on Trump's time under the tutelage of lawyer and prosecutor Roy Cohn, a political fixer who is portrayed in the TV drama "Succession" by Jeremy Strong.

Sebastian Stan, who made his name in the Captain America trilogy, plays Trump as he evolves from his early career years as an upstart working for his father's business to a brazen, self-centred tycoon.

Stan described his preparation for the role as a 24/7 immersion process to understand Trump beyond his media personality.

"He is a human being like everybody else so I guess we all have certain codes and certain principles, it just depends on what they are. I guess it's relative to everybody," Stan said at the briefing. (This story has been refiled to say that Trump is running as the Republican candidate in the U.S. election, and to removes reference to polling, in paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Bernadette Baum)