"I see my role as CEO to prepare as many people as I can to be CEO, and that's what I'm doing. And then the board makes a decision at that point in time," Cook said.
Cook, along with Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts, spoke to BuzzFeed News from Chicago in an interview published on Oct. 24. While there's no sign that Cook is planning to bow out anytime soon, Ahrendts' management background has long colored her a contender.
Marc Benioff tweet: I just saw Future Apple CEO @ AngelaAhrendtson her farewell @ Burberrytour! The most important hire Tim Cook has ever made!
Ahrendts, who was Burberry CEO before Cook lured her to Apple in 2014, told BuzzFeed that rumors she is Cook's first choice for heir to the Apple throne are "fake news" and "silly."
Though he's more soft-spoken than predecessor Steve Jobs, Cook has been an increasingly imposing figure in the political rhetoric of the past few years, speaking out against the current administration's stances on climate change and immigration. But Cook told BuzzFeed he's not worried that Apple will be punished for those statements since he limits his comments to issues that affect his company.
"We stay out of politics," Cook said. "We do engage on policy discussion. But we don't go back and forth on personality kind of stuff. That's not what we are about. I think most people look at that, and even if they disagree, they respect if you are coming from an authentic place."
Cook's comments come ahead of one of the most anticipated iPhone launches yet, the iPhone X, which opens for preorder this week. Reports have speculated that the phone might be released in very limited supply — prompting the BuzzFeed reporter to joke that customers should start camping outside the store.
"We'll see what happens," Cook said. "But we'll be working as hard as possible to make as many as possible."