Carlos Ghosn, the turnaround star of the global auto industry who now heads both Nissan and Renault, has no advice to give to stumbling US rival General Motors.

“I have a lot of respect for companies, particularly those which are struggling because I don’t know what kind of problems that they are really facing, ” he told The Associated Press (AP) on Friday, adding that being an insider at an automaker is necessary to understand its problem. “They know it, but we don’t.”

Ghosn is famed for turning Nissan from near bankruptcy to profitability and stable growth after Renault took a stake in 1999, AP noted. This year, he also took the helm at Renault, taking on the unusual role of heading two major automakers – he has promised to announce a business plan for Renault in February next year.

The news agency said Ghosn, 51, played down fears of a possible US-Japan trade war at a time when General Motors and Ford are losing market share to the likes of Nissan, Toyota and Honda.

As GM this week said it would cut more than a quarter of its North American manufacturing jobs and close 12 facilities by 2008, after losing almost US$4bn in the first nine months of this year, Nissan reported an 8% jump in its July-September quarter as strong sales around the world offset rising raw material costs and discount incentives to sell cars in North America, The Associated Press said.

Speaking at a lunch at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, Ghosn reportedly said his key goals were profitability, leadership in technology and innovation and customer satisfaction – not growth or market share for their own sakes, which should follow as consequences for good results.

According to AP, he also said the secret to the success of the Renault-Nissan alliance was the way management motivated workers, making everyone feel part of the group. Workers at both companies are equal peers in a partnership; it wasn’t as though one company was taking over the other, he said.