‘Apprentice’ cast and crew say Trump was lewd and sexist
NEW YORK >> In his years as a reality TV boss on “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he’d like to have sex with.
The Associated Press interviewed more than 20 people — former crew members, editors and contestants — who described crass behavior by Trump behind the scenes of the long-running hit show, in which aspiring capitalists were given tasks to perform as they competed for jobs working for him.
The staffers and contestants agreed to recount their experiences as Trump’s behavior toward women has become a core issue in the presidential campaign. Interviewed separately, they gave concurring accounts of inappropriate conduct on the set.
Eight former crew members recalled that he repeatedly made lewd comments about a camerawoman he said had a nice rear, comparing her beauty to that of his daughter, Ivanka.
During one season, Trump called for female contestants to wear shorter dresses that also showed more cleavage, according to contestant Gene Folkes. Several cast members said Trump had one female contestant twirl before him so he could ogle her figure.
Randal Pinkett, who won the program in December 2005 and who has recently criticized Trump during his run for president, said he remembered the real estate mogul talking about which female contestants he wanted to sleep with, even though Trump had married former model Melania Knauss earlier that year: “He was like ‘Isn’t she hot, check her out,’ kind of gawking, something to the effect of ‘I’d like to hit that.’”
The Trump campaign issued a general denial. “These outlandish, unsubstantiated, and totally false claims fabricated by publicity hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees, have no merit whatsoever,” said Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman. “The Apprentice was one of the most successful prime-time television shows of all time and employed hundreds of people over many years, many of whom support Mr. Trump’s candidacy.” She declined to answer specific questions that were emailed and declined an interview request.
Former producer Katherine Walker said Trump frequently talked about women’s bodies during the five seasons she worked with him and said he speculated about which female contestant would be “a tiger in bed.”
A former crew member who signed a non-disclosure agreement and asked not to be identified, recalled that Trump asked male contestants whether they would sleep with a particular female contestant, then expressed his own interest.
“We were in the boardroom one time figuring out who to blame for the task, and he just stopped in the middle and pointed to someone and said, ‘You’d f... her, wouldn’t you? I’d f... her. C’mon, wouldn’t you?’”
The person continued: “Everyone is trying to make him stop talking, and the woman is shrinking in her seat.”
Other cast and crew interviewed said they had positive, professional experiences with Trump, and added that they had never heard comments that made them uncomfortable.
“He was extremely supportive. You could tell there was so much respect there on all sides, especially with the female athletes,” said contestant and U.S. softball star Jennie Finch, a twotime Olympian. “Obviously, he was complimentary, but never in an inappropriate way.”
Contestant Poppy Carlig, who performed the twirl, said she considered Trump’s request “playful banter.” She added: “I don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that people are having bad intentions with what they are saying. He said I reminded him of his daughter and I thought that was really touching because I know how much he values his family.”
Twelve former contestants or members of the crew spoke on the record about what they described as Trump’s inappropriate behavior. Another nine spoke to the AP about their concerns regarding Trump’s treatment of female colleagues but said they did not want to be identified because they signed non-disclosure agreements, or were concerned about wrecking their careers or retaliation from Trump.
Gene Folkes of Wylie, Texas, a candidate on the reality television show “The Apprentice,” speaks during an interview in the north Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek, Ga., on Saturday. Folkes, who appeared on the program in 2010, says, he remembered that Donald Trump “asked one of the women their breast size at one point, or said, ‘are those real or natural?’”