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10 Times Business Leaders Gave Explosive TV Interviews

Mark Zuckerberg on Axios

TV interviews can be great for business leaders as a place they can get their views and ideas across to millions of people.

However, they can quickly turn bad as interviewers' questions can lead to uncomfortable, prickly and even outright aggressive confrontations.

Here are 10 explosive moments where business leaders found themselves in the hot seat - and it didn't go well.

Elon Musk on Joe Rogan’s Podcast

Elon Musk, CEO of X, Tesla and SpaceX, appeared on Joe Rogan’s live-streamed podcast in September 2018.

The billionaire sparked a media firestorm when he smoked marijuana on air.

This act, despite being trivial in the relaxed setting of Rogan's studio, had significant repercussions.

This included a temporary drop in Tesla's stock value and heightened scrutiny from federal regulators and investors.

Musk's nonchalant demeanor and candid discussion about life and artificial intelligence contrasted sharply with the expected behavior of a CEO.

It left viewers and stakeholders bewildered about the implications for his leadership.

Vince McMahon on "On the Record with Bob Costas"

Former WWE CEO Vince McMahon, who stepped away last year after allegations of sexual misconduct, is not someone who shirks confrontation.

In 2001, he sat down with Bob Costas on HBO’s "On the Record."

The discussion was intended to cover losses in McMahon's disastrous XFL football venture and the success and safety of professional wrestling.

However, it quickly escalated as Costas pressed McMahon on the portrayal of women and violence in WWE.

McMahon became increasingly agitated, leaning forward threateningly and accusing Costas of spouting tabloid journalism.

This intense exchange marked one of the most confrontational moments in sports entertainment broadcasting.

It showcased McMahon's infamous, and fierce, protectiveness over his controversial sports entertainment empire.

Mark Zuckerberg on "Axios on HBO"

During a 2020 interview on "Axios on HBO," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was intensely questioned about the company's role in handling misinformation and election interference.

Zuckerberg's responses were often evasive, marked by long pauses and robotic replies that did little to assuage concerns about Facebook’s policies and their implementation.

Tim Cook on "Mad Money with Jim Cramer"

Apple CEO Tim Cook faced a tough crowd on CNBC's "Mad Money" with Jim Cramer in 2016.

The appearance came amid declining iPhone sales and growing skepticism about the company's future direction.

Cook defended Apple’s innovation track record and outlined upcoming advancements.

However, his assertive demeanor and somewhat scripted responses did little to quell investor fears about slowing growth.

Larry Ellison on "CBS This Morning"

In 2013, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison made headlines with his bold assertions on "CBS This Morning" regarding government surveillance and Oracle’s technological capabilities.

Ellison’s staunch defense of NSA programs and his claims about Oracle’s superior security features sparked debate and concern over the relationship between national security and privacy.

Michael O'Leary on "BBC Breakfast"

Michael O'Leary, the outspoken CEO of Ryanair, appeared on "BBC Breakfast" where his candid remarks about environmental taxes and the “idiots” who forget to print their boarding passes reinforced his reputation for controversy.

O'Leary’s abrasive humor and aggressive cost-cutting measures have often polarized opinion, and his TV appearances continue to attract attention and criticism in equal measure.

Martin Shkreli on Fox Business

In 2015, Martin Shkreli, then CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, appeared on Fox Business.

He hit the headlines when he infamously smirked in response to outrage over his decision to raise the price of a lifesaving drug by 5,000 percent.

His defiant attitude and apparent lack of empathy during the interview exemplified his public persona as "the most hated man in America,"

This was a title many thought he seemed to embrace rather than shy away from.

Howard Schultz on "60 Minutes"

Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, sparked a flurry of political speculation during his 2019 "60 Minutes" interview when he announced he was considering running for president as a centrist independent.

His critique of both major political parties and discussion about his billionaire status drew sharp criticism.

The interview highlighted the challenges business leaders face when entering the political arena.

Carlos Ghosn on "CNN"

Carlos Ghosn, the ousted Nissan CEO, gave a dramatic interview to CNN in January 2020 after his sensational escape from Japan where he was facing charges of financial misconduct.

He vehemently denied the accusations against him, claiming political persecution and corporate conspiracy at Nissan.

This interview was part of a broader media campaign to clear his name and fight the charges from afar.

Richard Branson on "Good Morning Britain"

Sir Richard Branson, during an interview on "Good Morning Britain" in 2019, faced tough questions about his commitment to combating climate change while promoting space tourism.

His defensive responses and attempts to justify the environmental impact of his aerospace ventures sparked debate over the compatibility of luxury space travel with sustainable practices.

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