Former Nissan Executive Carlos Ghosn Speaks with CNBC’s Phil LeBeau in Interview to Air in New CNBC Original Documentary Today
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The following are excerpts from a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Former Nissan Executive Carlos Ghosn and CNBC’s Phil LeBeau which will air in a new CNBC original documentary, CNBC’s “Fugitive CEO: The Carlos Ghosn Story,” premiering today, Monday, January 27 at 10PM ET.
During the escape, when did Carlos Ghosn really feel like he was free?
Will Ghosn’s story become a Hollywood movie?
What's next for Carlos Ghosn?
Ghosn's warning for international executives doing business in Japan
Here’s a preview of CNBC’s documentary on Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
Carlos on Nissan:
CARLOS GHOSN: Nissan should continue to be Nissan, Renault, Renault, and Mitsubishi by itself, each one with a headquarter. But there is a way to make it--in a certain way--lasting in the future, independently of me.
CARLOS GHOSN: They came to the conclusion that if you want to get rid of the alliance, you have to get rid of me. That’s it. It was a very simple thing.
PHIL LEBEAU: But wouldn’t it have been easier for the Nissan executives to simply fire you? Are you saying the only way to remove you from influencing Nissan—
CARLOS GHOSN: Phil—
PHIL LEBEAU: --was to have you thrown in jail?
GHOSN: Phil, Renault has 43% of shareholding in Nissan. How can you fire a CEO when you already have 43% of your shareholders from the CEO side? But even if you take the other 55%, not all the Japanese shareholders are going to agree with this.
Carlos Ghosn on Video Surveillance/Not Exposing People:
PHIL LEBEAU: Carlos, the day you leave your house, there's video of you walking down the street. Were you scared somebody might recognize you?
CARLOS GHOSN: No. I was walking on the street. Everybody could recognize me. You know, and I was not hiding.
PHIL LEBEAU: You weren't scared?
CARLOS GHOSN: Absolutely not. I was walking on the street. I did nothing wrong.
PHIL LEBEAU: As you know, there is surveillance video of you entering a hotel near the Kansai International Airport in Osaka with two other men. There is video of those men leaving, but there's no video of you leaving. There's only video of those men leaving with a box, a box that many people believe you hid in. Did you hide in that equipment box?
CARLOS GHOSN: No, again, I'm not going to make any comment about everything which happened.
PHIL LEBEAU: You know that people will say you hid in that box. If it didn't happen, why not deny it?
CARLOS GHOSN: No, look, I don't-- I'm not going to make any comment. I'm not confirming, I'm not denying, I'm not saying anything. It's because I don't want to expose people who have been courageous enough to support me, you know, in a situation where not a lot of people are going to extend a hand to you.
Carlos on Think Fast, Plan Fast, Act Fast:
CARLOS GHOSN: People say, “Oh, it was a huge organization. Hundreds of people were involved. Tens of millions of dollars.” No. I-- I'm not going to make any comment. But I want to tell you that people are talking without any evidence in hand. And a lot of things are ridiculous. When you decide something like this, you need to think fast, plan fast, and act fast.
Carlos Ghosn on Bringing Light on the System:
CARLOS GHOSN: My story is bringing the light on the system. And you can ask hundreds and thousands of people who have been through the same system. Everything is geared for a confession.
Carlos on Taking a Deep Breath in Beirut:
PHIL LEBEAU: On your flight out of Japan, was there ever a point where you took a deep breath and you said, ‘Okay. I am free. I'm not to Lebanon yet, but I'm free. I'm no longer in Japan or in Japanese air space”?
CARLOS GHOSN: I took a deep breath when I arrived in Beirut. Not a moment before.
PHIL LEBEAU: Even when you got to Istanbul?
CARLOS GHOSN: Not a moment before.
Ghosn on Seeing His Wife for the First Time:
CARLOS GHOSN: Now, I have the impression I'm-- reborn. And somehow, I'm-- I'm breathing again. I'm alive. I'm alive again.
PHIL LEBEAU: What was the first exchange between you two like?
CAROLE GHOSN: We hugged each other and-- and we-- we couldn't talk. I mean, I was so emotional.
CARLOS GHOSN: And I told her, "You're my lioness," because she has been a lioness through this period. She was alone. She was abandoned by a lot of my friends and my ex-colleagues.
Ghosn on If They Tell my Story, I Want to Make Sure It’s Right:
PHIL LEBEAU: There has been a lot of reporting that you have had discussions with screenwriters, or people in Hollywood, about selling your story. Can we expect this to became a motion picture at some point in the future?
CARLOS GHOSN: I think it’s going to happen with or without my collaboration, yes.
PHIL LEBEAU: Would you like to collaborate on a movie?
CARLOS GHOSN: Well, I’ll just want to make sure that if they tell the story, they tell it right.
PHIL LEBEAU: Are you shopping your story?
CARLOS GHOSN: I am not. But, I – I mean, if there is no story, it’s fine. But if there is a story, I’m interested in making sure that the record is straight.
Extended EXCLUSIVE interview included in new original CNBC documentary, “FUGITIVE CEO: THE CARLOS GHOSN STORY,” premiering, today, Monday, January 27, 2020 @ 10:00PM ET (Re-air at 1:00AM ET)
CNBC’s latest one-hour original documentary is the epic story of Carlos Ghosn’s rise and spectacular fall. After nearly two decades of high-profile success running the Nissan and Renault Alliance, in 2018 Ghosn found himself charged with a range of financial crimes by Japanese authorities. He proclaimed his innocence, but rather than remaining in Japan to fight the charges, Ghosn pulled off a remarkable escape, eluding enforcement, spiriting away on a private jet and eventually landing in his ancestral home Lebanon, a land with no extradition treaties with Japan.
Narrated by CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen with an exclusive interview from CNBC Auto and Airline Industry Reporter Phil LeBeau, “Fugitive CEO: The Carlos Ghosn Story” retraces not only Ghosn’s escape, but also his unusual and high-flying trajectory as an auto industry executive, which led him to become one of the biggest celebrities in the business universe. CNBC offers unprecedented first-person access to Ghosn throughout his career and even after his escape, as well as extensive original reporting on the ground in Japan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Japanese authorities say Ghosn’s story is a tale of greed and arrogance, while his supporters say his flight was a desperate and necessary escape from injustice. Either way, “Fugitive CEO: The Carlos Ghosn Story,” tells one of the most compelling business sagas in decades.
To learn more, visit: https://www.cnbc.com/fugitiveceo/.