‘Ap­pren­tice’ cast and crew say Trump was lewd and sex­ist

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By Garance Burke

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.

JOHNNY CLARK — AP PHOTO

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?’”

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