Trump Once Proposed a Race-Based Season of “The Apprentice”
Donald Trump once floated the idea of a race-based season of his hit reality television show “The Apprentice,” where teams would be divided based on the color of their skin.
Back in 2005, ahead of filming his fifth season as a host of the “The Apprentice,” Trump said he was considering “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites.”
Trump, currently the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee, made the comments on his now-defunct radio show. His proposal was reported by Entertainment Weekly in 2005 and resurfaced by a Buzzfeed News report.
Trump, who said he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the fourth season of “The Apprentice,” later added of the racialized premise: “Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”
Trump acknowledged at the time, however, that “not everybody thinks it’s a good idea.”
Trump’s idea came shortly after Omarosa Manigualt, an African American woman, became a popular contestant on the first season of “The Apprentice” in 2004. Manigault, now an avid Trump supporter, later appeared on subsequent iterations of the show, including “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
The idea — which he had also raised on Howard Stern’s show a couple months earlier, according to a 2005 Entertainment Weekly article — drew an avalanche of coverage, commentary, and question-mark headlines at the time.
“Will next Apprentice play race card?” asked UPI.
“Will The Apprentice become a battle of the races?” mused MSNBC.com.
“The Apprentice” never took up Trump’s proposal to cast the show by race.
Tara Dowdell, a black communications consultant who appeared on season 3 of The Apprentice had an excellent quote that sums up this entire story:
Best-case scenario, it was huge blind spot. Worst-case scenario, it showed [Trump’s] willingness to exploit race and be divisive — to do anything to promote himself. The presidency can’t be one crazy, ill-advised publicity stunt after another.