New Account Rekindles Allegations That Trump Disrespected Black Individuals On ‘The Apprentice’

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Gene Folkes had simply been jettisoned as a contestant on “The Apprentice” and was commiserating with a crew member at a bar contained in the foyer of Trump Tower. He was indignant — and never simply at having been kicked off the fact present after its star, Donald Trump, had delivered his catchphrase: “You’re fired.”

One in every of two Black contestants chosen for that season in 2010, Folkes was insulted that Trump had known as him inarticulate and accused him of illiteracy in a prolonged boardroom tirade minutes earlier.

Because the crew member, a Black lady who labored as a contestant supervisor, consoled him, Trump immediately appeared on the bar.

“He came up and he asked me: ‘Is this your woman? Because you two would make a really great couple. You both have the same background,’” Folkes advised The Related Press.

The contestant supervisor quietly reminded Trump that she labored for him. Then, Trump made a remark much like one thing he uttered within the boardroom that by no means aired on TV, Folkes stated.

“He said again, ‘It’s not like I used the N-word,’ and then he walked off, and that was that,” stated Folkes, a New York-based marketing consultant, podcast host and U.S. Air Pressure veteran.

As Trump seeks to make inroads with African American voters in his third run for the White Home, contemporary allegations are surfacing about his disrespectful conduct towards Black folks contained in the Manhattan skyscraper that launched his present and political profession. There are nonetheless questions on whether or not any of that conduct was caught on tape.

Invoice Pruitt, a former producer on “The Apprentice,” revealed a latest account alleging that Trump really used the racist slur to check with Kwame Jackson, a Black contestant who was a finalist on the present’s first season. A spokesperson for Trump’s marketing campaign has vehemently dismissed the account concerning the Republican ex-president as false and politically motivated. President Joe Biden’s Democratic marketing campaign, in the meantime, spotlighted Pruitt’s account on social media.

Trump, who hosted “The Apprentice” from 2004 to 2015, has lengthy denied such claims and known as former contestants criticizing him “failing wannabes” motivated by greed. However he has been trailed in his skilled and political life by expenses of racism, from a 1973 discrimination lawsuit in opposition to his actual property enterprise, to his push to hold out executions of 5 Black and Latino youths who had been later exonerated of rape allegations, to his yearslong fanning of the conspiracy idea that President Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, was not born in the US.

Trump’s first marketing campaign in 2016 was rocked by allegations about his conduct on “The Apprentice” and different appearances throughout his affiliation with NBC, notably in footage wherein he stated he might sexually assault girls and get away with it as a result of he was a “star.” MGM Studios, which purchased the manufacturing firm that made the present, has since been acquired by Amazon.

Nearly a decade after he left his actuality TV function to run for president, Trump’s tv profession stays central to his biography and political rise. It introduced Trump Tower to tens of hundreds of thousands of individuals as an emblem of energy and success earlier than Trump launched his first marketing campaign from the constructing’s foyer. Final week, the identical foyer was the setting for his first look after being convicted of 34 felony counts in a hush cash scheme to affect the 2016 election.

”‘The Apprentice’ might be underrated as a supply of that type of picture building,” stated Joel Penney, a professor at Montclair State College who research the intersection of popular culture and politics. “There’s nobody who could possibly compete on the level of name recognition, brand recognition, that kind of familiarity.”

THE ROLES OF NBC AND AMAZON

“The Apprentice” and its spinoffs had been on air for greater than a decade, that includes folks from all walks of life and later celebrities who competed in contrived enterprise challenges to win Trump’s favor — and doubtlessly a job along with his group.

Tons of of forged and crew members signed non-disclosure agreements, limiting their capability to disclose what occurred inside Trump Tower or any outtakes that includes the ex-president. The present’s producer in addition to the community that broadcast it even have refused to launch unaired footage. Over the past week, after the AP reached out to greater than two dozen former crew members and contestants about Trump’s behind-the-scenes conduct, some stated they puzzled how contractual agreements could have insulated Trump from blowback about politically unstable feedback.

Folkes stated he believes his exchanges with Trump contained in the bar had been recorded since he was nonetheless sporting a mic.

Gene Folkes, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” is photographed in his condo in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in New York. A producer’s new account of Donald Trump’s conduct on “The Apprentice” is resurfacing allegations about whether or not he mistreated Black individuals who appeared on the present. (AP Photograph/Stefan Jeremiah)

After his firing in October 2010, Folkes blogged about his expertise on the present. He stated he quickly acquired a name from NBC executives. In response to a doc supplied by Folkes, in early November NBC’s then-vice president for authorized affairs, Shelly Tremain, despatched him a cease-and-desist order and stated the community would search to get better $1 million if he saved speaking about his participation within the sequence or violating his “application agreement.”

Folkes fired again to Tremain’s crew in an e mail, saying his portrayal on the present was “unfortunate, inaccurate, stereotyping being applied to a member of a protected class,” in response to a replica of the message considered by the AP. “Review the boardroom scene of episode 5 in its entirety for a very clear picture of the false portrayal and stereotyping … I harbor no interest in publicly commenting about Mr. Trump.”

Folkes stated the community did present him with further remedy classes following his firing, which he stated helped him to course of the reputational harm he suffered as a contestant. NBC declined to remark about him and Tremain didn’t reply to a message.

“After a decade of (military) service, I can take a lot of stress. It’s not like, ‘Oh, he fired me and hurt my feelings,’” Folkes stated. “When I say I am offended, that is a high bar to cross.”

Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung stated in an announcement that “these completely fabricated accusations” had already been debated in 2016 “and thoroughly debunked,” dismissing all of them as rooted in marketing campaign politics.

“Now that Crooked Joe Biden and the Democrats are losing the election, and President Trump continues to dominate, they are bringing up old fake stories from the past because they are desperate,” he stated.

Folkes beforehand spoke out in opposition to Trump’s candidacy and his feedback towards and about feminine forged and crew members in an AP investigation revealed in October 2016. After studying the AP story, “Access Hollywood” producers stated they dug into their very own present’s archive, uncovering a 2005 tape wherein Trump made lewd remarks about being sexually aggressive towards girls.

The tape sparked outrage and calls from some Republicans for Trump to drop out a month earlier than the election. He didn’t — and received. However a lot of his opponents have continued to press these concerned in “The Apprentice” to launch their archives, partly out of a perception {that a} tape of Trump utilizing the racist slur exists.

Entertainment big MGM stated in 2016 that it owned the archive of the fact TV present and contractual obligations saved it from unilaterally releasing any unaired, archived materials. In 2022, the web procuring big Amazon finalized its acquisition of MGM, one of many oldest studios in Hollywood. Amazon MGM Studios declined to remark.

The present’s govt producer Mark Burnett additionally has stated that he doesn’t have the power or proper to launch footage from the present. NBC has acknowledged that it doesn’t personal the sequence footage and solely licensed it from Burnett for broadcast.

Writing for Slate in an article revealed final week, Pruitt described a gathering with Trump within the present’s boardroom set, the place he famously would dismiss contestants.

In response to Pruitt’s account, one in every of Trump’s firm’s managers steered choosing Jackson over Invoice Rancic, the opposite remaining contestant and a white man. After a debate over Jackson’s efficiency on the present, Pruitt writes, Trump winced earlier than asking if America would settle for a Black man profitable, referring to Jackson by the racist slur.

Pruitt stated he was coming ahead now as a result of his non-disclosure settlement — which carried a potential $5 million superb if violated — expired this 12 months. He advised the AP that he recalled all quotes in his article to one of the best of his capability and that the dialog was recorded.

“He’s about to run for a second term as president of the United States and I heard him use a term that should have and would have abolished him from politics forever had more people heard about it,” Pruitt stated. “Anyone who is capable of using it shouldn’t be leading the country.”

The Trump marketing campaign denied Pruitt’s declare that Trump used the slur. “Prove it,” wrote Cheung, the marketing campaign spokesperson, on the X platform, including that Biden’s allies had been “peddling” the story “because Biden is hemorrhaging support from Black Americans.” The Democratic president has seen his help amongst Black voters fall sharply since taking workplace.

In 2005, a 12 months after Pruitt claims Trump used the slur, the previous president proposed a “Blacks” versus “whites” model of “The Apprentice” on “The Howard Stern Show,” telling listeners he was contemplating creating an episode pitting “nine Blacks against nine whites, all highly educated, very smart, strong, beautiful people.”

In an interview, Jackson stated Trump by no means stated the slur to his face. However he stated Pruitt’s account and the dialog about an alleged Trump recording spotlighted the nation’s incapacity to resolve broader questions of what sort of speech voters will tolerate in 2024.

“The bigger problem for me is none of this really matters because America is entirely comfortable with both overt and covert racism. And whether there is a smoking gun that says Trump called me an N-word and a tape appears tomorrow, what will that change? How will that make a difference?” stated Jackson, president of his personal model advertising, variety and inclusion consulting agency.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, argues Biden’s immigration and financial insurance policies have disadvantaged Black communities of jobs and assets. He and his allies have steered he can reduce into Biden’s margins with Black voters, lengthy a core Democratic constituency.

He has additionally sought to get a lift from his legal expenses and steered in February to a largely Black viewers that African Individuals associated to him extra as a result of he had been indicted.

Biden has pointed to a number of measures benefitting Black Individuals, together with extra funding for traditionally Black faculties and universities, forgiveness of federal scholar mortgage debt and pardons for federal possession of marijuana expenses. His marketing campaign has additionally sought to attract consideration to Trump’s previous.

On Monday, Biden’s marketing campaign posted a TikTok video that includes protection of Pruitt’s allegations, in addition to the affirmation of Omarosa Manigault Newman, who went from a present contestant to White Home aide to a Trump critic, that she had heard a tape of Trump utilizing the slur.

“Donald Trump is exactly who we all knew he was — a lifelong racist,” a girl says within the TikTok. “Black voters kicked Donald Trump out of the White House in 2020, and we’re going to do it again this November.”

Marshawn Evans Daniels, who was one in every of two Black contestants competing on the fourth season of “The Apprentice,” stated she by no means heard Trump use racist language on set.

“‘The Apprentice’ was a baptism in the highest levels of business and I was always praised,” stated Evans Daniels, an legal professional, writer and marketing consultant. “I never had a negative experience but that doesn’t usually happen when you are there in the room.”

That very same season, winner Randal Pinkett was rewarded with a job working for Trump. However Pinkett, who can also be Black, stated Trump handled him in a different way than different earlier winners and requested him to share his title with a white contestant.

“If I give Donald the benefit of the doubt, then what he did to me was racially insensitive,” stated Pinkett, now a CEO of a world consulting agency who has additionally beforehand criticized Trump. “If I do not give him the benefit of doubt, which I do not, it was racist. And it therefore does not surprise me that he would say the N-word.”

Burke reported from San Francisco and Kinnard reported from Columbia, South Carolina.

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