On a recent episode of NPR's podcast "Embedded," Bill Pruitt, a former producer of Donald Trump's long-running reality television show, "The Apprentice," discussed Trump's behavior, insisting Trump regularly made “unfathomably despicable” racist comments on the set.
Pruitt has previously said that there are tapes from the filming of the show in which Trump is caught making racist comments. For the first time he elaborated on the specifics of those comments, saying they were "about African-Americans, Jewish people, all of the above."
Other former producers and contestants on the show, which Trump hosted for 14 seasons, have echoed the claim. Chris Nee, another former producer, said she regularly heard Trump use the N-word, while Tom Arnold recounted hearing Trump make a slew of racist and derogatory comments, even insulting his own son.
Producers, other staff and contestants on the show signed nondisclosure agreements which bar them from discussing what exactly happened on the set and the show's creator, Mark Burnett, remains a loyal Trump confidant. He has stated multiple times that all the show's tapes are contractually confidential and he will not "give them up."
Below is a transcript from NPR's "Embedded":
MCEVERS: By the time of the finale, 28 million people watched "The Apprentice." And the next year after that first season, Donald Trump had his highest Gallup poll approval ratings ever. So if the contestants were a way for all of us to get closer to Donald Trump, the producers were the way to shape who Donald Trump appeared to be on the show. One of the main producers on "The Apprentice" was a guy named Bill Pruitt, and he says it was fun making the show mainly because Donald Trump was a natural talent, like the second time he fired someone.
BILL PRUITT: And Trump threw in what we called the cobra, where he threw out his fingers, thrust them at the guy.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE APPRENTICE")
D. TRUMP: Jason, Jason, this is a tough one. You're fired.
PRUITT: And I remember, in the control room, watching, it was visceral. It was like he shot him. Everyone in the room went, oh, whoa, wow, whoa. So the cobra became sort of a trademark move that he did beyond you're fired.
MCEVERS: But then Bill Pruitt says Donald Trump started saying inappropriate things on the set. You might remember; Bill Pruitt is the guy who tweeted about all this right after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape last October of Trump saying grab women by the you-know. Pruitt tweeted, I assure you, when it comes to the hashtag #TrumpTapes, there are far worse. And now is the first time Bill Pruitt has talked about what's on those tapes, though he can't go into too much detail. He did sign a non-disclosure agreement. He says it happened when Trump and the producers would talk about who to fire.
Was it just about women...
MCEVERS: ...Mostly about women.
PRUITT: Very much a racist issue.
MCEVERS: It was about race...
MCEVERS: ...About African-Americans, Jewish people, all of the above.
PRUITT: Yep. When you heard these things, there's the audible gasp that is quickly followed by a cough, kind of like (gasping), you know, and then (coughing) - yes, anyway, you know? And then you just sort of carry on.
MCEVERS: Is there ever a time when you think, I wish I would have told him not to say things like that?
PRUITT: That's a really good question. It was not my place to be, hey, TV star, you know, reason we're all here, shut your [expletive] damn mouth, and don't ever, ever repeat what you just said. Of course, you know, you think that. You go back to your hotel room or your apartment that they put you up in. And you know, you do some soul-searching.
MCEVERS: But he did not say anything. We should say we reached out to the White House, and an official called Bill's story, quote, "the same recycled and false attacks." Bill Pruitt says he also feels bad about the fact that the story they were telling on "The Apprentice," this thing about Trump as this successful billionaire, wasn't exactly true. Bill Pruitt says he saw that up close at Trump's Taj Mahal casino.
PRUITT: You walk in there, and you see, you know, neons falling. It was the Ta Mahal (ph) or something, you know? There was no J 'cause the neons were out, you know? (Laughter) They just hadn't had the opportunity to replace it yet. It wasn't a priority 'cause the carpets were already rotting. And it just stinked to high heaven.
MCEVERS: But that's not the way you made it look...
PRUITT: Not at all.
MCEVERS: ...In that opening sequence.
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