As Donald Trump continued to label his graphic 2005 “Access Hollywood” conversation with Billy Bush as “locker-room talk,” “The Daily Show” dredged up footage from Season 9 of his own show when he fired a “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant for exhibiting the same behavior in his boardroom.
Trump eliminated pro wrestler (and Ottawa, Illinois native) Maria Kanellis in 2010 after she accused fellow contestant Curtis Stone of using the toilet in her dressing room. “Isn’t that sort of gross, bringing that up?” Trump asked. “It’s like, disgusting. This is my boardroom. It’s not a locker room. Maria, you’re fired.” (Trump is not above discussing bodily functions on the air — he discussed then-girlfriend Melania’s bathroom habits freely on Howard Stern’s radio show in 2004.)
In an interview that aired Tuesday on “Entertainment Tonight,” Kanellis took issue with Trump’s characterization of his quotes about how, as a star, he could do anything he wanted to women, including kissing them without consent or grabbing them by their genitals.
“He fired me for what I said and what he said was much worse,” she told ET. “I don’t think that was locker-room talk. I think it was sexual assault.”
She added, “When I first saw it I was astounded that anybody remembered it. But then again, we are talking about a presidential nominee. When he is a hypocrite about things that he says, I guess then it starts to become a news story.”
Kanellis also waded into the online discussion about the tape over the weekend, calling Trump out for his Twitter joke about how “it had been an interesting 24 hours.”
She isn’t the only former “Apprentice” contestant coming out against Trump.
In an interview published Wednesday, Season 1 runner up Kwame Jackson told Salon.com, “I have no interest in supporting someone who I think is, at his core, racist.” And he’s felt that way for a decade. “I was one of the first people to say ‘racist,'” he told the website. “Before, people were flirting with the idea, (saying) ‘Oh he has racist tendencies’ or ‘Maybe he is echoing racism,’ and I was like, ‘No, actually he is a racist!’”
It still remains to be seen if any unaired “Apprentice” footage will surface after a producer from the early seasons tweeted that there is far more incendiary material sitting on servers owned by Mark Burnett Productions. On Monday, Burnett claimed that he doesn’t have the power to release them. In a statement to USA TODAY, he also called reports that staffers face legal action if they leaked footage “completely and unequivocally false.”
Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY