Donald Trump Again Accused of Using N-Word on ‘The Apprentice’ Set

Donald Trump is once again being accused of using the N-word on the set of The Apprentice, as a producer on the reality show has resurfaced the allegation following the expiration of their nondisclosure agreement.

Producer Bill Pruitt wrote about his experience working on The Apprentice in a new op-ed penned for Slate, claiming the former president and current presumptive Republican nominee said the racial slur when faced with the prospect of Black contestant and finalist Kwame Jackson winning the series’ first season.

Pruitt recalled a conversation on the precipice of the season finale, where Jackson and Bill Rancic were the last remaining contestants. Weighing each candidate with other members of the Trump Organization, Trump clearly favorited Rancic, Pruitt wrote, while other Trump employees lobbied for Jackson. “Yeah,” Pruitt claims Trump said, “but, I mean, would America buy a n—– winning?”

Trump ultimately chose Rancic as the winner.

Different rumors of Trump’s alleged “N-word tape” from the days of his time as a game show host have swirled in entertainment and political circles for years, at least since the days of his 2016 presidential campaign. The chatter grew so loud during that election year that, according to people familiar with the matter, a variety of media outlets (including, candidly, reporters who now work for this magazine) tried to run down tips related to the tape. At the time, all such news organizations came up empty, at least when it came to what was ethically publishable or fully corroborated. Actor Tom Arnold said he’s seen the tape and even had a reality show where he hunted for it them — but he too came up empty.

The rumor given new voice by Pruitt’s on-the-record account aside, there was no shortage of reports in 2016 about Trump’s baffling, if not destructive, actions and behavior while fronting the NBC game show. For instance, as The Daily Beast reported at the time, Trump once set off a bizarre crisis on set and among Apprentice staff when he kept refusing to stop calling rapper Lil Jon an “Uncle Tom,” even when staffers implored him to say “Uncle Sam” instead.

Trump’s position of power and celebrity on the series sometimes took much darker turns than that. At one point, when actor Gary Busey was a contestant, he was credibly accused of groping a female staff member against her will, sparking a revolt among the crew and internal demands for Busey’s immediate dismissal. When this rippled up the chain of command to Trump, the future president of the United States protected his pal Gary, of course.

Pruitt wrote that he’s only resurfacing the N-word allegation now because a $5 million NDA he signed after working on the show expired earlier this year.

“A reality TV show gave rise to an avaricious hustler, and a deal was made: Subvert the facts, look past the deficiencies, deceive where necessary, and prevail in the name of television ratings and good, clean fun,” Pruitt wrote in his op-ed.

“Trump is making another run at the White House and is leading in certain polls,” Pruitt added. “People I know enthusiastically support him and expect he’ll return to office. It’s not just hats, sneakers, a fragrance, or Bibles. Donald Trump is selling his vision of the world, and people are buying it. Knowing all they know, how could these people still think he’s capable of being president of the United States? Perhaps they watched our show and were conned by the pig in the poke.”

In response to Pruitt’s claims, a Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung told Deadline in a statement, “This is a completely fabricated and bullshit story that was already peddled in 2016. Nobody took it seriously then, and they won’t now, because it’s fake news. Now that Crooked Joe Biden and the Democrats are losing the election, they are bringing up old fake stories from the past because they are desperate.”

Cheung also responded to commentator Bakari Sellers, who is Black, posting that “no one is surprised” by Pruitt’s account of Trump saying the N-word. “Prove it, bitch,” Cheung wrote. “You can’t, because it’s a fake and bullshit story your dumb ass is peddling because Biden is hemorrhaging support from Black Americans.”

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign is seizing on Pruitt’s story. “No one is surprised that Donald Trump, who entered public life by falsely accusing Black men of murder and entered political life by spreading lies about the first Black president, reportedly used the N-word to casually denigrate a successful black man,” the campaign said in a statement.

More from Rolling Stone

Best of Rolling Stone