Penn Jillette claims that he heard President Donald Trump make racially charged statements while on the set of “The Apprentice,” and that the show’s executive producer Mark Burnett has recordings of Trump making racist comments.
“He would say racially insensitive things that made me uncomfortable. I don’t think he ever said anything in that room like ‘African-Americans are inferior’ or anything about rape or grabbing women, but of those two hours every other day in a room with him, every ten minutes was fingernails on chalkboard,” the magician and television personality told Vulture in an interview published Tuesday.
The existence of tapes from “The Apprentice” of Trump saying racist things have long been rumored. The controversy over the alleged tapes was stoked this week by former White House aide and “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who in interviews this week has alleged that such recordings do exist.
Trump on Tuesday fired back Manigault-Newman, writing on Twitter, “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” The White House has denied Manigault-Newman’s claims.
Jillette, half of the magic duo Penn & Teller, was a contestant on Trump and Burnett’s NBC competition series “The Apprentice” during a season that aired in 2012. He declined in the Vulture interview to offer specifics of what he heard Trump say. “So I can emotionally tell you things that happened racially, sexually, and that showed stupidity and lack of compassion when I was in the room with Donald Trump and I guarantee you that I will get details wrong,” he said. “I would not feel comfortable talking about what I felt I saw in that room — because when I was on that show I was sleeping four to five hours a night. I was uncomfortable. ‘Stress’ is the wrong word, but I was not at my best.”
Asked if Burnett has tapes of Trump saying “racially damaging” things, Jillette said, “Yeah, I was in the room.”