Suggesting Donald Trump’s demeaning behavior toward women isn’t some recent phenomenon that only just cropped up within the last 70 years, The Associated Press has published a lengthy interview with more than 20 former cast and crew members on The Apprentice, who say that Trump regularly, openly harassed women there with sexist remarks and overtures. It’s certainly a damning revelation, akin to learning that the arsonist who burned down the orphanage also wasted a lot of gasoline, and it has the incredible, soul-hollowing distinction of feeling superfluous—especially amid The New York Times reporting that Trump likely hasn’t paid taxes in 18 years and Trump, the spam email who ran for president, issuing his call for America to “check out sex tape.” But anyway, here’s some more shit to be subsumed into the shit-pile by detractors whose outrage plateaued months ago, and to be ignored by supporters too busy making frog memes about emails to care.
Interviewed separately, yet giving concurrent testimony about things only they could have witnessed and you could have surmised, the Apprentice alumni describe many, myriad incidents in which Trump degraded the women on his show. Sometimes Trump was just old-fashioned lecherous, such as calling for female contestants to “wear shorter dresses that also showed more cleavage,” or asking another to “twirl before him so he could ogle her figure”—a sort of Mad Men-esque, mahogany-desk-set sexism that’s downright charming by Trump standards.
Other times, according to producer Katherine Walker, he was simply belittling, as when she told him about one contestant who’d performed poorly and “Trump raised his hands and cupped them to his chest to ask whether it was a contestant with large breasts.” And then there were the many, many times Trump would muse aloud about having sex with one of the female contestants—sometimes while they were in the room:
A former crew member who signed a non-disclosure agreement and asked not to be identified, recalled that Trump asked male contestants whether they would sleep with a particular female contestant, then expressed his own interest.
“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 f… her, wouldn’t you? I’d f… her. C’mon, wouldn’t you?’”
The person continued: “Everyone is trying to make him stop talking, and the woman is shrinking in her seat.”
Still, despite Trump’s practice of treating the women in his orbit like the yellowing Maxim pullouts that paper the cigar-stained den of his mind, he apparently has some standards. Yes, while he regularly harassed one blonde, blue-eyed camera operator in particular, he also took care to note that she wasn’t as hot as his daughter: “I remember him comparing Ivanka to her and saying that only Ivanka was prettier,” said one former crewmember, while eight separate crewmembers also recalled that he’d told this camera-person she “had a nice rear, comparing her beauty to that of his daughter, Ivanka.”
It’s just that kind of obvious love and respect for Ivanka and her assets that led Poppy Carlig—the contestant whom Trump had commanded to twirl—to dismiss his remarks as “playful banter,” saying, “He said I reminded him of his daughter and I thought that was really touching because I know how much he values his family.” Indeed, it’s heartwarming to know that, whether Trump is ogling asses or thinking about who to have sex with, his daughter is never far from his mind.
As expected, the AP’s report has already received a blanket denial from the Trump campaign, calling them “outlandish, unsubstantiated, and totally false claims fabricated by publicity hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees.” It’s similar to the time several former Apprentice contestants banded together to denounce Trump’s campaign and his pugnacious temperament, and Trump responded by calling them “six failing wannabes” and threatened to release “hours of footage of them individually praising me.”
Of course, NBC could deliver a similar threat, if it wanted to: As one of the crewmembers notes, whenever Trump would assemble this cabinet of rivals for a think-tank session on banging, “There would be about 10 or 12 cameras rolling and getting that footage, which is why everybody was like, this guy just doesn’t care.”
And frankly, why should he—then or now? Following the many threads of why Donald Trump is unfit to be president is often like unraveling a cable knit sweater that someone keeps knitting, and knitting, and knitting, then tweeting that it’s fat. Even Trump’s gross, reductive attitudes toward women on The Apprentice, specifically, aren’t new; he wrote in his 2004 book Trump: How To Get Rich that “all the women on The Apprentice flirted with me—consciously or unconsciously,” Ivanka presumably included.
In the AP’s own interview, Trump’s own former PR man Jim Dowd shrugs, “Was he behind closed doors with just the guys rating the women, who were the hotter ones on the show? Yes, he certainly was prone to that.” So given that his own publicity people aren’t even bothering to hide this stuff anymore, why should Trump care about alleged extant footage of him being sexist in a fake boardroom this time? The internet is logy with listicles and supercuts of “XX Times Donald Trump Was Shitty To Women” requiring near-hourly updates. At this point, Trump’s history of being demeaning is not a scandal—it’s his platform.
And yet, as The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf has pointed out, The Apprentice has arguably done more than anything else to convince our TV-addled electorate that Trump is a leader, as capable of mediating delicate foreign relations as he is of talking to Gary Busey. Friedersdorf even issued a call more than a year ago for NBC to release the raw footage from Trump’s series, something that would settle once and for all whether he did say this stuff—and, in what is sadly more pertinent to his followers, demonstrate that he can’t even fire someone for fucking up a sandwich without a team of advisers holding his tiny hand. Maybe if NBC finally showed us the real Donald Trump, through the only frame of “reality” his fans can understand, they would at last begin to question him?
On the other hand, it most demonstrably would not. Besides, it would only get buried beneath whatever shit tomorrow brings.