In April 2016, six former 'Apprentice' contestants held a press conference and argued that Donald Trump did not possess the "proper temperament" to be president. The group accused the businessman and reality TV host of conducting a Presidential campaign that relied on "sexism, xenophobia, racism, violence and hate."
At the time, the press conference didn't draw a lot of attention from the press. Trump's campaign quickly provided several former "Apprentice" contestants (including semi-surrogate Omarosa), who described their positive experiences with the show and its host. The campaign also issued a statement in which Donald Trump described the former contestants as "six failing wannabes out of hundreds of contestants." He also threatened to release hours of footage of them "praising me."
The story quickly faded, in large part because the group's criticism of Trump focused primarily on his Presidential campaign and their personal experiences on "The Apprentice." Without specific anecdotes, the six appeared to be nothing more than another group of Trump critics. In retrospect, the one interesting fact about the group is that it consisted of five African-Americans and one Asian-American contestant.
But according to multiple sources, including two former contestants, the press conference was an effort to discuss the group's collective problems with Trump without breaking any of the points of a non-disclosure agreement each of the contestants had signed with the producers of the show. The details seem to have evolved a bit during the run of the show, but in each case there is the threat of a $5 million penalty for discussing a wide range of details about the production of the show, including items not previously considered public knowledge. That threat tied the hands of the six, who were apparently all eager to discuss their time on the show.
So what would they have discussed if they weren't facing the prospects of a court battle? Sources claim that each of the six contestants had personally heard Donald Trump use "troubling" sexual banter with female contestants and one source claims to have heard the billionaire off-handily describe a female contestant as having a "nice big black ass." Another source claims to have heard Donald Trump refer to season one runner-up Kwame Jackson as "a very professional person, not a Nigger."
I also spoke with two people who worked on the production of later seasons of "The Apprentice" and in both cases they reported hearing Donald Trump discuss the breasts of contestants during and before "board meetings" on the show. One former crew member recounted a discussion in which Donald Trump was overheard having a discussion with a show's producer about whether one male contestant had come across as "manly enough" in a previous scene. This crew member also recounted Trump telling a camera person who had trouble getting a shot that "I could be fucking X right now."
It's important to acknowledge that there is no independent way to confirm these stories. None of the people I spoke with were willing to go on the record with the prospect of facing a $5 million penalty if they were identified. And the Donald Trump campaign, Mark Burnett and MGM Television (which now owns Burnett's company) have failed to respond to requests for a comment on the allegations.
The only concrete way to verify some of these allegations is for the show's producers to release the outtakes and raw footage from "The Apprentice." But as I noted in two pieces published on Saturday, efforts to make the footage public face both logistical and legal challenges. Given that no one associated with the show is going to be interested in releasing damaging footage, it's likely that the only way anything surfaces publicly is if a former producer or editor has some footage they've secretly kept since working on the show.
UPDATE MONDAY, 10:10 a.m. CT: I spoke with another former "Apprentice" staffer this morning, who stated they had never heard Donald Trump use the "N-Word," although they had heard him make comments about female contestants that were "crude, but not something that crossed the line into harassment."