Producers for Donald Trump's show, The Apprentice, are speaking out about how the reality television star-turned-politician behaved on the set of the show in an interview with Slate.
Some former Apprentice producers agreed to speak to Slate on the condition they did not use their names, citing nondisclosure agreements. Staffers described strange quirks like Trump's fear of making physical contact with others because of a germ phobia. But they also said the way he talks about women on the campaign trail isn't a new trait by far.
“He would talk about the female contestants’ bodies a lot from the control room,” mid-level producer told Slate. “We shot in Trump Tower, the control room was on the seventh floor, and he walked in one day and was talking about a contestant, saying, ‘Her breasts were so much bigger at the casting. Maybe she had her period then.’ He knows he’s mic’d and that 30 people are hearing this, but he didn’t care. That’s kind of him. During the campaign, when he was talking about Megyn Kelly, I thought: He’s obsessed with menstruation.”
Bill Pruitt, producer on Seasons 1 and 2 of The Apprentice, spoke to Slate on the record about Trump, saying he feels partly responsible for the fact Trump now has a shot at the White House in the November election.
“I’ve been struggling with the whole experience of watching Trump go from punch line to GOP nominee,” Pruitt told Slate, “because of how it reflects on reality TV, which is the work I’ve been dedicating my life to for the last 10 years. The associations are glaring. Those in our business who hadn’t already taken stock of what we wrought, we’re doing it now. I might have signed an NDA back in the day that would allow someone to come after me, but I feel almost a patriotic duty to talk about this."
Pruitt worried that people in the reality TV show business may have created a platform for Trump by creating the expectation that those starting with the lowest expectations will win at the end.
"Those of us involved in the show are proud of our work," he said. "But we might have given the guy a platform and created this candidate. It’s guys like him, narcissists with dark Machiavellian traits, who dominate in our culture, on TV, and in the political realm. It can be dangerous when we confuse stories we’re told with reality. We need to wake up—and that’s from someone who helped tell these stories.”
Another producer said staffers had to scramble to re-edit footage to make it look like Trump never made bad decisions, even though he had a penchant for keeping an overweight contestant on the show for entertainment purposes.
"There was a fat contestant who was a buffoon and a f*ckup,” another producer told Slate. “And he would f*ck up week after week, and the producers would figure that he’d screwed up so badly that Trump would have to fire him. But Trump kept deciding to fire someone else. The producers had to scramble because of course Trump can never be seen to make a bad call on the show, so we had to re-engineer the footage to make a different contestant look bad. Later, I heard a producer talk to him, and Trump said, ‘Everybody loves a fat guy. People will watch if you have a funny fat guy around. Trust me, it’s good for ratings.’"
The producer added, "I look at Chris Christie now and I swear that’s what’s happening.”