Donald Trump’s Apprentice staffers are insisting the Republican presidential nominee was “tone-deaf” when he continued to call Lil Jon “Uncle Tom” during his appearance on Celebrity Apprentice.
Shortly after The Daily Beast broke the news Friday evening (Oct. 14), the rapper and producer took to Twitter to share his side of the story, confirming the incident and condemning Trump on his existence. “When this ‘Uncle Tom’ incident happened on Celebrity Apprentice in the boardroom several of my castmates, and I addressed Mr. Trump immediately when we heard the comment,” the Atlanta native said via Twitter. “I can’t say if he knew what he was actually saying or not, but he did stop using that term once we explained [its] offensiveness. I also want to be clear that I don’t agree with many of the statements Mr. Trump has said during his current run for President.”
The incident took place three years ago when the record producer appeared on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, alongside Claudia Jordan, Omarosa and Dennis Rodman. To be a team player, Jon donned an Uncle Sam costume for a sales project with positive results. When Trump reportedly heard about Jon’s outfit, he said, “Look, he’s Uncle Tom!” on and off camera. Longtime Apprentice staffers told the Daily Beast, Trump was unaware that racially charged term was defined as African-Americans who were dutiful to white people.
The team went swiftly into damage control after Trump said the term in front of comedian Arsenio Hall, a guest judge for the sales. “We kept trying to explain to [Trump] that that’s not a word you can use, that it’s offensive,” another Apprentice employee told the site. “One of the executive producers had to call him up directly to [plead with] him not to say it, and Trump was like, ‘No, that’s a saying, it’s Uncle Tom.’ There are several takes in the footage of the dailies that has him trying to figure out the difference between ‘Uncle Tom’ and Uncle Sam. He just couldn’t grasp that it was offensive… When [Trump] decides he wants to do something; that’s his way.”
The incident was also reported on the gossip site, The Dirty, but never confirmed. Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied the allegations.”This is simply untrue,” she said.