Friday 15 December 2017

'Apprentice' insiders hit out at Trump's sexism

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump cheer at a rally in Manheim, Pennsylvania. Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar
Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump cheer at a rally in Manheim, Pennsylvania. Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar

Rachael Alexander Washington

Donald Trump was back in the sexist spotlight again yesterday amid claims he repeatedly demeaned women with lurid language on his reality TV hit 'The Apprentice'.

The damning allegations were made by show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he would like to have sex with.

More than 20 people - former crew members, editors and contestants - described crass behaviour by Mr Trump behind the scenes of the long-running show.

They agreed to recount their experiences as Mr Trump's behaviour towards women has become a core issue in the presidential campaign.

Interviewed separately, they all gave concurring accounts of inappropriate conduct on the set.

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.

During one season, Mr Trump called for female contestants to wear shorter dresses that also showed more cleavage, according to contestant Gene Folkes. Several cast members said he had one female contestant twirl before him so he could ogle her figure.

Randal Pinkett, who won the programme in December 2005 and who has recently criticised Mr Trump during his run for president, said he remembered the real estate mogul talking about which female contestants he wanted to sleep with, even though Mr Trump had married former model Melania Knauss earlier that year.

He said: "He was like, 'Isn't she hot, check her out', kind of gawking, something to the effect of 'I'd like to hit that'."

The Trump campaign issued a general denial. "These outlandish, unsubstantiated and totally false claims fabricated by publicity-hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees have no merit whatsoever," said Hope Hicks, Mr Trump's campaign spokeswoman.

"'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."

But former producer Katherine Walker said Mr Trump frequently talked about women's bodies during the five seasons she worked with him and said he speculated about which female contestant would be "a tiger in bed".

Another former crew member who signed a non-disclosure agreement and asked not to be identified recalled that Mr Trump asked male contestants whether they would sleep with a particular female contestant, then expressed his own interest.

"We were in the boardroom one time figuring out who to blame for the task, and he just stopped in the middle and pointed to someone and said, 'You'd f*** her, wouldn't you? I'd f*** her. C'mon, wouldn't you?'"

The person continued: "Everyone is trying to make him stop talking, and the woman is shrinking in her seat."

Other cast and crew interviewed said they had positive, professional experiences with Mr Trump, and added that they had never heard comments which made them uncomfortable.

Contestant Poppy Carlig, who performed the twirl, said she considered Mr Trump's request "playful banter".

She added: "I don't immediately jump to the conclusion that people are having bad intentions with what they are saying. He said I reminded him of his daughter and I thought that was really touching because I know how much he values his family."

Debuting in 2004, 'The Apprentice' and spin-off 'Celebrity Apprentice' propelled Mr Trump to national stardom following a string of bankruptcies and bad business deals in the 1990s that had splintered his New York-based real estate empire.

The series, meant to showcase Mr Trump's business acumen, became a major hit and his name became a global brand that helped launch his political career.

One former contestant, Tyana Alvarado, said she was not offended when Mr Trump told her she was attractive - but noted that he played by his own rules.

"Most men have to behave because they are in a workplace, but he could do what he wanted," she said.

"In all jobs, people have to sign sexual harassment paperwork, but Mr Trump was putting on a TV show so he got to do it."

Irish Independent

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