Donald Trump once had an idea for a season of The Apprentice that would pit black contestants against white contestants, telling Howard Stern in a recently resurfaced interview that it would have been the “highest rated show on television.”
Trump is under fire this week for allegations that he used racist language — including the N-word — while on the set of The Apprentice. There had long been reports that there were tapes of Trump using this language that were being kept under tight lock by Apprentice producers, and now a new tape has surfaced showing Trump imagining a racially charged season of the show. Trump presented his idea to Howard Stern in a 2005 interview, talking about the season of “blacks vs. whites” on the reality show.
“There was a concept thrown out by some person: nine blacks against nine whites,” Trump said in audio obtained and played by CNN. “And it would be nine blacks against nine whites, all highly educated, very smart, strong, beautiful people, right?”
When Stern asked Trump if he thought the season could inflame racial tensions, Trump disagreed.
“I don’t think… see, actually, I don’t think it would,” Trump said. “I think that it would be handled very beautifully by me.”
The audio comes out at a difficult time for Trump as he faces growing accusations that he has been openly racist in the past, especially on The Apprentice.
Amid allegations from former Apprentice star Omarosa that Trump did use racist language, a number of others are coming forward to back up the claims. Comedian Penn Jillette, who also appeared on The Apprentice, said that he also heard Trump use racially charged language but could not remember clearly enough to make any exact allegation.
Jack O’Donnell, who worked for Trump as the former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, agreed. In an interview with CNN, O’Donnell called Trump a “a racist through and through” and claimed that Trump had a long history of racism.
Others have noted that allegations of racism against Trump stretch back decades, with his company accused of discriminating against black tenants in the 1970s and even settling with the Department of Justice over the allegations.
Donald Trump has responded to the latest charges by saying he spoke with Apprentice producer Mark Burnett, who assured Trump there was no tape of him saying the N-word. But later in the week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she could not say for certain that such a tape didn’t exist.