Long before Donald Trump was President of the United States, he was the host of NBC’s The Apprentice, sternly yelling “You’re fired!” when contestants got the boot. Billed as “The Ultimate Job Interview,” the show featured a handful of hopeful businessmen and women competing for the chance to apprentice under Trump himself.
Some say that The Apprentice re-introduced Trump to the world as a successful businessman, ultimately starting his trajectory to the White House. In true Trump fashion, the show was not without its share of controversies. Check out these behind-the-scenes facts about the reality show, as well as what it’s really like for contestants on The Apprentice. You won’t believe what really happens when the contestants get fired.
Donald Trump Hated The Idea of The Apprentice
Photo by Frederick M. Brown / Stringer
Today, Donald Trump and The Apprentice are synonymous, but this almost wasn’t the case. Back in 2002, when producer Mark Burnett proposed the reality show idea to Trump, he was not on board…at all. In fact, he absolutely hated the idea and claimed that not only did he not watch reality television, but that it was for “the bottom-feeders of society.”
Burnett was only able to persuade Trump to host the show by telling him it would be a minimal time investment and a great potential for him to promote his personal brand with the younger generation.
Applicants Have 30 Seconds To Impress The Casting Crew
Photo by Peter Kramer / Staff
After The Apprentice gained popularity in the mid-’00s and beyond, more people applied to be on the show. In fact, in the later seasons, more than 50,000 hopefuls applied for each season. To earn one of the coveted spots, contestants have to come to the audition ready to impress — and they better be able to do it fast.
Applicants have just 30 seconds to impress the casting crew, who tends to ask simple questions like Why you should you be on The Apprentice? What makes you so different? This is why contestants come up with some truly ridiculous answers. After all, the more ridiculous you are, the more likely you will be remembered.
Contestants Are Tested For STDs And Must Agreed To Being Filmed Nude
Photo by NBC
Those lucky enough to make it through the auditions had to sign a detailed contract that was, what some consider, oddly specific. One of the conditions for appearing on The Apprentice was agreeing to STD screenings. Under their contracts, all contestants were to be tested for “HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HPV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes.”
In addition to STD screenings, contestants had to sign a contract agreeing that they could at any point be filmed “clothed, partially clothed or naked, whether… aware or unaware of such videotaping, filming or recording.” This is a lot odd considering the nature of the show, but drama sells. After all, this is reality television…or is it?
Producers Told The Contestants It Wasn’t a Reality Show
Photo by NBC
The Apprentice is clearly a reality show, but that’s far from how the producers portrayed it to the contestants. According to season six contestant, Jenn Hoffman, the series was “strenuously framed to us as a job interview.”
In an interview with Esquire, Hoffman said she and the other contestants were held to a strict code of behavior which included acting professionally at all times. They also weren’t allowed to use the word “show” under any circumstance and would be pulled off camera and reminded it was a “job interview” instead. Producers wanted contestants to remember they weren’t on one of the “grittier” reality shows and needed to act accordingly.
You’re Fired! Sort Of…
In every episode of The Apprentice, someone gets booted off the show. Once Donald Trump proclaims, “You’re fired!” that contestant is typically shown getting into a taxi where it’s presumed they’re going home. The contestants, however, don’t actually get to leave New York City.
In order to keep the public from finding out which contestants are booted off, those who do get fired don’t get to go home. Instead, they are shuttled to a nearby hotel where they remain until the show is finished shooting, which basically means a free vacay in New York City. Not necessarily a bad gig, huh?
The Environment Was a Breeding Ground For Sexism
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Considering the numerous sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump, it’s sadly not surprising that sexism was an issue on The Apprentice. Multiple contestants have revealed the misogynistic environment on the show, which was fueled by Trump himself. Most recently, Summer Zervos (pictured above) sued Trump for kissing and groping her on the show.
In another instance, an anonymous former employee of the show recalled a situation where Trump asked male contestants what he thought about a female contestant. “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 [expletive] her, wouldn’t you? I’d [expletive] her. C’mon, wouldn’t you?'” she told the Associated Press. Apparently, bad behavior was par for the course.
Donald Trump Made Frequent Racist Remarks Behind The Scenes
Photo by Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage
In October 2017, former Apprentice producer Bill Pruitt revealed Donald Trump repeatedly made racist comments behind the scenes of the show. On an episode of the NPR podcast Embedded, Pruitt said Trump made frequent disparaging comments about African-Americans and Jewish people, especially when talking about who to fire.
Pruitt added that while he didn’t agree with Trump’s behavior, he felt like there wasn’t anything he could do. “It was not my place to be, ‘Hey, TV star, you know, reason we’re all here, shut your goddamn mouth, and don’t ever, ever repeat what you just said,’” Pruitt said. “Of course, you know, you think that. You go back to your hotel room or your apartment that they put you up in. And you know, you do some soul-searching.”
Was Donald Trump Fired?
Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images
Usually, Donald Trump was the one saying “You’re fired!” But after his departure from the show in 2016, viewers wondered what exactly happened. Many believed Trump left the show to focus on his election campaign, but Alan Sugar, the host of UK version of The Apprentice, alleged he was actually fired.
“Before Trump went into the presidential race, apparently NBC had fired him from The Apprentice anyway – but it got mixed up in a bit of smoke and mirrors somewhere,” Sugar told The Telegraph. While Trump has claimed he quit because he legally wasn’t allowed to be on the show while running for president, NBC said otherwise. The network released a statement saying, “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”
Donald Trump And Arnold Schwarzenegger Have a Rocky Relationship
Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
After Donald Trump’s departure from The Apprentice spinoff Celebrity Apprentice, Arnold Schwarzenegger took over. The two men have quite a bit in common. Both have big personalities and have dabbled in politics and business. But after Schwarzenegger received backlash from Hollywood about working with the likes of Trump, he made sure his political views in October 2016.
The former Mr. Olympian took to Twitter saying, “For the first time since I became a citizen in 1983, I will not vote for the Republican candidate for President.” He continued, “But as proud as I am to label myself a Republican, there is one label that I hold above all else — American. So I want to take a moment to remind my fellow Republicans that it is not only acceptable to choose your country over your party — it is your duty.”
Trump Still Made Money Off The Celebrity Apprentice After He Was Gone
Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images
Although Donald Trump left The Celebrity Apprentice to run for office, he continued to keep his hands in the pot in one way or another. While Trump vowed to quit any duties that might result in a conflict of interest as President of the United States, he kept his name and loyalties attached to the show and served as Executive Producer into his presidency.
Although he didn’t make any appearances, Trump was still in a paid position with NBC and MGM during the 2017 season. His earnings were never officially released, but Forbes estimates Trump took home around $7.4 million for the season. Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway told CNN that the POTUS will absolutely try to be involved with the show in something resembling a regular Executive Producer role in the future.