Home / General / Producer of The Apprentice says Trump used the N-Word on tape

Producer of The Apprentice says Trump used the N-Word on tape

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BY LAURA CAVANAUGH/FILMMAGIC/GETTY IMAGES

It was always exceedingly likely that this happened, and here we go:

The Apprentice was an instant success in another way too. It elevated Donald J. Trump from sleazy New York tabloid hustler to respectable household name. In the show, he appeared to demonstrate impeccable business instincts and unparalleled wealth, even though his businesses had barely survived multiple bankruptcies and faced yet another when he was cast. By carefully misleading viewers about Trump—his wealth, his stature, his character, and his intent—the competition reality show set about an American fraud that would balloon beyond its creators’ wildest imaginations.

I should know. I was one of four producers involved in the first two seasons. During that time, I signed an expansive nondisclosure agreement that promised a fine of $5 million and even jail time if I were to ever divulge what actually happened. It expired this year.

No one involved in The Apprentice—from the production company or the network, to the cast and crew—was involved in a con with malicious intent. It was a TV show, and it was made for entertainment. I still believe that. But we played fast and loose with the facts, particularly regarding Trump, and if you were one of the 28 million who tuned in, chances are you were conned.

[…]

“Why didn’t he just fire her?” Trump asks, referring to Omarosa. It’s a reasonable question. Given that this the first time we’ve ever been in this situation, none of this is something we expected.

“That’s not his job,” Bienstock says to Trump. “That’s yours.” Trump’s head continues to bob.

“I don’t think he knew he had the ability to do that,” Kepcher says. Trump winces again.

“Yeah,” he says to no one in particular, “but, I mean, would America buy a n— winning?”

Kepcher’s pale skin goes bright red. I turn my gaze toward Trump. He continues to wince. He is serious, and he is adamant about not hiring Jackson.

Bienstock does a half cough, half laugh, and swiftly changes the topic or throws to Ross for his assessment. What happens next I don’t entirely recall. I am still processing what I have just heard. We all are. Only Bienstock knows well enough to keep the train moving. None of us thinks to walk out the door and never return. I still wish I had. (Bienstock and Kepcher didn’t respond to requests for comment.)

There’s a lot more about the show that made Trump a viable presidential candidate — it’s a worthy companion to one of the key texts for understanding this era of American politics, Patrick Redden Keefe’s profile of Mark Burnett.

Live tape of Trump using this racial slur might have affected the race in 2016. In 2024, people’s perceptions about Trump are so well-ingrained I doubt it would even matter, which is a story in itself.

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