A group of former contestants on Donald Trump’s reality televisioin show The Apprentice put their old boss in the hot seat on Friday, saying the U.S. Republican front-runner has widened racial divisions and should not be president. Trump’s one-time admirers, most from racial minorities, urged the New York billionaire to tamp down his divisive rhetoric as he campaigns to succeed President Barack Obama in the November 8 election.
“We are all disappointed and in some ways shocked to see what is being spewed from Donald regarding his views on women, immigrants, and the list goes on,” said Randal Pinkett, winner of the 2005 fourth season of the reality television show.
“We strongly condemn Donald’s campaign of sexism, xenophobia, racism, violence, and hate,” he said at a news conference in Manhattan. Pinkett said Trump “is not worthy of the highest office of the land,” and said there had been glimpses of those attitudes in private conversations and time spent off-screen with Trump during the making of the TV show.
Running for 14 seasons, The Apprentice gave Trump a national platform, and his often blunt and unfiltered style helped make the show a major hit. The show featured groups of business-minded contestants vying for a titular apprenticeship in Trump’s organization. At its peak, nearly 21 million people watched the show.
Pinkett told Reuters he had contacted former “apprentices” and said their effort was independent and timed to precede New York state’s crucial primary election on Tuesday. At the news conference, Pinkett was joined by former contestants Tara Dowdell and Kwame Jackson, while another former contestant, Marshawn Evans Daniels, participated via video link.
Their efforts seemed unlikely to dent Trump’s comfortable advantage in New York opinion polls against rivals John Kasich and Ted Cruz. Trump dismissed his former aspiring proteges on Friday as “failing wannabes out of hundreds of contestants.”
“How quickly they forget. Nobody would know who they are if it weren’t for me,” he said in a statement. “They just want to get back into the limelight like they had when they were with Trump. Total dishonesty and disloyalty.”