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Apprentice contestants, crew discuss Trump’s demeaning comments about women

Apprentice contestants, crew discuss Trump’s demeaning comments about women
Donald Trump on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Jan. 11, 2016 (Photo by Douglas Gorenstein/NBC

At a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday night, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump talked about The Apprentice. He said,

“Oh, I could be doing the Apprentice right now. I loved it—14 seasons. How good was that? Tremendous success. They wanted to extend—I could be doing the Apprentice now. Somehow I think this is a little bit more important. Do we agree? Just a little bit?”

This morning, The Associated press published a story—based on interviews with 20+ cast members, crew members, and editors who reviewed all footage—detailing how 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.”

For example, in separate interviews, “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.” These revelations follow a week of Trump repeatedly attempting to shame former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who he previously referred to as “Miss Piggy” (after she gained weight at age 18) and “Miss Housekeeping” (because she’s Latina), a point first raised by Hillary Clinton in last Monday’s debate.

During the boardroom segments of The Apprentice, “Trump frequently would ask male contestants to rate the attractiveness of their female competitors,” according to the AP’s reporting. One contestant who confirmed that, season 10’s Gene Folkes, said,

“If you didn’t answer, [Trump] would dig in and say, ‘Do you think so and so is attractive? Would you sleep with her? Well, what about if you really had to, would you?’ It was so bizarre, because he (otherwise) seemed so professional. … [He] asked one of the women their breast size at one point, or said, ‘are those real or natural?'”

Of course, some of Trump’s objectifying and sexist comments were included on the show.

At least once, Trump himself seemed to recognize that. During The Celebrity Apprentice 5, Trump not only suddenly and randomly started discussing Aubrey O’Day’s appearance (“You look very good, Aubrey, I have to say.”) and then suddenly switched to asking a man whether or not that was okay (“Do you mind if I say? Is that sexist? Penn [Jillette], is that sexist?”)

Trump’s campaign denies he objectified women on The Apprentice

A former Trump and Apprentice publicist, Jim Dowd, confirmed what Gene Folkes said about Trump asking the men to rate female contestants, but described that behavior as “complimenting” the women: “Was he complimenting the women? Of course. Was he behind closed doors with just the guys rating the women, who were the hotter ones on the show? Yes, he certainly was prone to that.”

Some Apprentice contestants and crew members told the AP “they had positive, professional experiences with Trump, and added that they had never heard comments that made them uncomfortable.”

This morning, Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Hope Hicks, said this in a statement:

“These outlandish, unsubstantiated, and totally false claims fabricated by publicity hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees, have no merit whatsoever. 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 did not answer specific questions or dispute specific facts in the AP’s reporting.

Also declining to comment: the network that aired the show and its producer. They went with a strategy of pointing at someone else and then burying their heads in sandboxes. The AP explains:

“NBC, which broadcast the hit series, referred questions to executive producer Mark Burnett, whose studio referred calls to a public relations firm. The public relations firm did not respond to multiple voicemails and emails seeking comment.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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