O'Brien appears in his first interview since being forced from his Tonight Show role in a "60 Minutes" segment to be broadcast this Sunday, May 2, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Reminded by correspondent Steve Kroft that NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Zucker said that after six months, ratings indicated viewers did not want him on the show, O'Brien says, "In my opinion, I don't think that's fair or accurate. But he's entitled to his opinion. I think for anyone to say that the results were in after six months that doesn't ring true to me," he tells Kroft.
Also reminded that NBC said The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien was losing money, Conan refutes it. "I honestly don't see how that's possible. It's really not possible. It isn't possible."
Following are excerpts from O'Brien's "60 Minutes" interview:
"I don't regret anything. I don't regret one decision I made in that week and a half period," says the late night television comedian. "I wish it had ended differently. But, I'm fine. I do believe, and this might be my Catholic upbringing or Irish magical thinking, but I think things happen for a reason. I really do. And I think that this all happened for a reason," he tells Kroft.
Was He Screwed?
"The biggest thing people come up and say to me in gas stations and restaurants, I have so many people say this to me. 'Hey partner, you got screwed.' I don't, and I always tell them, 'No, I didn't. I didn't get screwed. I'm fine. It just didn't work out.' But I don't want people thinking, you know, that I got screwed. Because it just didn't work out."
Resolved His Issues?
"No, I have not resolved all my issues. I am mostly very happy. I love this tour it's the most thrilling thing I've done in my career. And so I'm in a really great place in a lot of ways. But I'd be lying if I said I don't have my moments of everything, you know, anger, disappointment, frustration and just confusion."
Speaking to Kroft about Jay Leno and his exit from the network, O'Brien says he would have left NBC rather than do what Leno did to him.
"He went and took that show back and I think in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know...I know me, I wouldn't have done that," O'Brien says. "If I had surrendered The Tonight Show and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well and then…six months later. But that's me, you know. Everyone's got their own, you know, way of doing things," he tells Kroft.
Asked by Kroft what he would have done, O'Brien says, "Done something else, go someplace else. I mean, that's just me."
O'Brien eventually left NBC, deciding not to play second-fiddle to Leno. He says he didn't see the point in giving his all in a relationship that seemed to have no future. "I think this relationship is going be toxic and maybe we just need to go our separate ways," he says. "That's really how it felt to me…and I started to feel that I'm not sure these- people even really want me here….I can't do it [anymore]."
Produced by Deirdre Naphin