LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Billionaire businessman Donald Trump is offering to rescue TV personality Ed McMahon from foreclosure on his multimillion dollar Beverly Hills home.
"There are discussions, but it is not a done deal yet. We are optimistic," McMahon's spokesman Howard Bragman told Reuters on Friday.
Trump, a real estate developer and celebrity host of TV reality show "The Apprentice," told the Los Angeles Times he stepped in after widespread publicity over McMahon's default on a $4.8 million mortgage on his six-bedroom, five-bathroom home.
"I don't know the man, but I grew up watching him on TV," Trump told the Los Angeles Times in a report published on Friday. "I'd watch him every night. How could this happen?"
Trump's plan is to buy the home from the lender and lease it back to McMahon, the Times said.
McMahon, 85, famous for his "Heeeeeere's Johnny" introduction to "The Tonight Show" for 30 years and for hosting TV talent show "Star Search," is one of the most high-profile people to be caught up in the U.S. housing downturn and credit squeeze.
McMahon's mortgage lenders filed notice of default in February, when McMahon was about $644,000 in arrears on the mortgage for the Beverly Hills house. It has been on the market for about two years and the asking price in June was $5.75 million.
McMahon blamed his problems on having broken his neck about 18 months ago, preventing him from working.
One in every 464 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in July -- a 55 percent increase from July 2007, according to figures from RealtyTrac, which records properties in foreclosure across the nation.
Debt woes have been mounting for McMahon. Earlier this week a second company, California-based Westmoore Lending, also sued McMahon and his wife, Pamela McMahon, claiming they defaulted on a $250,000 loan.
Last month, a New York lawyer sued him for more than $275,000, claiming McMahon failed to pay him for representing one of his daughters in a "matrimonial matter."
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte