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Donald Trump Pitched a Season of The Apprentice That Pitted Black People Against White People

Illustration for article titled Donald Trump Pitched a Season of iThe Apprentice/i That Pitted Black People Against White People

In an article that only kids alive in the mid-aughts will understand, Buzzfeed senior writer McKay Coppins revisits a long-forgotten Donald Trump scandal from a time when the only thing the presidential hopeful was trying to segregate was reality television.

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In 2005—While still acting as host of NBC’s The Apprentice—Trump, speaking on his own radio show, proposed a season of the series that would pit black contestants against white contestants.

Coppins writes:

Explaining to listeners that he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the show’s most recent season, Trump said he was mulling “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African-Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”

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.

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Ultimately (and for obvious reasons), the idea was squashed—though former Apprentice cast member Tara Dowdell tells Buzzfeed News that Trump’s pitch for a black vs. white season foreshadowed his current presidential campaign.

“Worst-case scenario, it showed [Trump’s] willingness to exploit race and be divisive—to do anything to promote himself,” Dowdell says. “The presidency can’t be one crazy, ill-advised publicity stunt after another...He has the audacity to say he’s a uniter when he proposed Apprentice: The Race War?”

Just because NBC passed on a race-based competition show doesn’t mean all networks did—a year later (in 2006), CBS aired Survivor: Cook Island, which divided players into teams based on ethnicity.


Image via Getty.

Managing Editor, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

DarthPumpkin

Not surprised. Even without Trump, mid-aughts reality TV was a shitshow. Anyone remember Brat Camp?