On the Money

Clay Aiken hits out at NC bathroom law, chides Trump

Clay Aiken’s voice on politics

While his voice is most well-known for singing, these days North Carolina native Clay Aiken is using it for a different, more political, purpose. 

It's why the singer ran for North Carolina's second congressional district as a Democrat in 2014. After falling short in that race, the "American Idol" runner-up turned to advocacy for the LGBT community, and serves as a UNICEF ambassador. 

After the recent Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act passed in his home state, Aiken added his voice to the rising chorus of criticism against North Carolina's bill, which requires transgender individuals to use bathrooms that match their "biological sex." Aiken told  CNBC's  "On the Money"  in an interview he is disappointed and frustrated by the government's action, calling the law "discriminatory." 

Read MoreChegg CEO: Why we oppose NC's anti-LGBT law

He added that it was " ironic, because it's an anti-discrimination bill."

Aiken, who was a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2012, also spoke out about Donald Trump. Aiken told CNBC the GOP frontrunner of today is not the person he knew just a few years ago. 

"I'm not even convinced that Donald Trump knows the person who's running today," says Aiken.

As for the Trump phenomenon, Aiken says the GOP establishment needs to pay attention because Donald Trump has tapped into an angry part of the electorate, but has misgivings if he is the right spokesperson for those people.

"I'm not completely convinced that he necessarily believes everything that he's saying," he added.

Backlash builds against NC's bathroom law

Clay Aiken
Walter McBride | WireImage | Getty Images

States across the country have tried to pass religious liberty laws, which opponents say are an attack on the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. 

In each case, there has been backlash from the business community, but none bigger than the more than 130 business leaders asking to repeal North Carolina's law. CEOs from companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google and others signed a letter stating: "Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country."

Paypal made an immediate economic impact when it announced plans to global operations center in Charlotte, which would employ 400 people. 

And it's not just the corporate world putting up a protest. Film director Rob Reiner said he will halt film production in the state, and NBA star Charles Barkley is calling on the league to relocate it's 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte. Separately, Bruce Springsteen even canceled his concert on Sunday to show his support for the LGBT community. 

Aiken says companies standing up to North Carolina is altruistic as well as a marketing strategy, and it's OK to be both.

"People can disagree about marriage equality and still believe it's not necessary to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," says Aiken. "These companies know that. They don't want to be offending their consumers, but they don't also want to be asking people to work for them in a state where they are not welcome."

But unlike the reversal seen in Indiana and Georgia, Aiken believes the economic backlash in North Carolina will not be enough to sway his state's decision. 

"Unfortunately the governor has signed it into law, and at this point, the governor doesn't really have any say in it," says Aiken. "I think he's probably the only politician in the state who really is in the position to really be swayed by that type of pressure."

As for "American Idol," which ended last week after 15 seasons, Aiken says he was encouraged by the legacy the show was leaving behind. In its heyday, the show was a ratings blockbuster that spawned the careers of several new artists—some of whom didn't even win the contest. 

Performers like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino owe their careers to the reality singing contest.

"I think if anything that Idol has done over the years, it's really allowed the people at home to be involved in helping to make people's dreams come true, helping to give people opportunity," says Aiken. "I think that's something that people in politics need to take note of."

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.