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.

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.


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