The untold truth of The Apprentice

Up until his political campaign, most people had come to recognize Donald Trump mainly as a business mogul and reality TV star. The Apprentice remains one of the longest running reality TV franchises still currently on the air. Over the years, the format has stayed relatively consistent, although the show eventually decided to focus on having celebrity contestants over regular ones. Like most reality TV shows, the truth behind The Apprentice isn't necessarily what you'd expect, especially with Donald Trump as its host.

No one goes home after getting fired

During each episode of The Apprentice, somebody gets fired; they have to pack their things and leave the building immediately, and they're usually shown getting into a cab and (presumably) going home. It seems like a terrible thing, but what really happens isn't that bad, according to a 2004 report from TV Guide (via the New York Post).

Since the show's producers would like to keep the ending of the season (and eventual winner) a secret, they don't want anyone knowing what order contestants go home in. Losers are actually sent to a nearby hotel, where they stay until the show's finished shooting. This means that contestants kicked off early on essentially get a free vacation in New York City. It almost sounds better to get fired early on, because a free vacation is a free vacation. Seriously, it's surprising that people don't jump for joy when they get kicked off The Apprentice.

Trump originally hated the idea, and his agent told him not to do it

Today, The Apprentice is such an undeniable part of the Trump brand that seems like it's been around forever. It almost wasn't, though. According to Fortune, the millionaire mogul almost passed on the whole deal.

He was approached by Survivor mastermind Mark Burnett in 2002, according to Forbes. At the time, Trump's brand was reportedly on the edge of a precipice, and Burnett was looking for a way out of the jungle that would allow him to spend more time with his family. The idea for The Apprentice came first, and when Burnett saw the name "Trump" all over NYC's Wollman Rink, he knew he had his host. When he first visited Trump Tower to pitch the idea, Trump's response was that not only did he not watch reality television, but he didn't like it, either. "That was for the bottom-feeders of society," he said.

Burnett's pitch included things like a minimal time investment from Trump, setting up a filming location in Trump Tower, and the potential for reaching out to the younger generation. Fortune quoted Trump: "My jet's going to be in every episode. The Taj is going to be featured. Even if it doesn't get ratings, it's still going to be great for my brand."

Trump and Burnett shook hands at that first meeting, but Trump's agent still tried to talk him out of it by saying that business shows were never a success. According to The Washington Post, Trump fired that agent not too long after.

What do the candidates really have in their suitcases?

The possibility of getting fired is one that looms over the candidates as they head into the boardroom each week, and the idea of packing up all your things week after week has got to be an insufferable mind game. But some things don't seem to match up, like how candidates have way more clothes than what could possibly fit into a suitcase. So, what's in them?

According to what former candidate Tammy Lee told Fox News, they were told to only pack what they would need for an unspecified—but brief—amount of time. If they were fired, they weren't going to be going back up to their rooms, even though they weren't going home, either. It was up to the production staff to pack up the rest of their things, and what's really in the suitcases is just some items that they wouldn't be able to go without.

That's supported by Today's interview with Season 6 contestant Derek Arteta. He said, "It's basically enough stuff for you to survive on for a few days until you get your clothes back."

Candidates speak about constant sexism

In 2016, Season 6 candidate Jenn Hoffman wrote a behind-the-scenes expose for Esquire, talking about just what it was really like to be a female candidate "working" for Donald Trump. Hoffman was the eighth person fired, which meant she was there for nine of the 14 episodes. She wrote, "This gave me plenty of time to observe Trump's perspective, which was anything but gender blind. While I did not witness any sexual assault, I did watch Trump treat and talk about women in ways that were such textbook examples of how to create a hostile workplace environment that they could be used as "What Not to Do" sections of an HR sexual harassment video."

She went on to say that they were constantly put into situations where female candidates were faced with making a choice between only two options: being the serious prude or the frivolous sex symbol. There was a pool and a hot tub in their LA home, and when they were confronted with the decision of whether or not they were going to put on bathing suits, it was no small decision. (She added that they had been instructed to act as though they were in complete awe of the house they would be staying in.) She says that the show's producers locked onto those concerns and played them up for the camera, asking them things like who they thought wore a bathing suit the best, and whether or not they thought sporting a bikini would get them bonus points with Trump.

Hoffman said that the comments about both the appearance of female candidates and their perceived wily ways were a daily occurrence on the set, and also says, "To reject his flattery was to risk facing the oversensitive wrath of an offended Donald Trump."

According to Hoffman, there was a seething, underlying sexual component to everything that happened on the set of The Apprentice, whether the camera was on or off. A trip to the Playboy Mansion (a prize for the winning team), was "wasted" on "a team of women and a gay guy." Regardless of whether or not she wanted to go to a questionably appropriate place, she says that she had no choice. "Stay home and you risked the most fiendish of reality-TV punishments — an unflattering edit."

Candidates were constantly told it wasn't a reality show

According to Jenn Hoffman's Esquire piece, all participants in The Apprentice are told repeatedly that it's not a reality show.

"The Apprentice was strenuously framed to us as a job interview, not a reality show," she wrote. "The producers never interrupted our conversations except when one of us would make the mistake of using the word 'show'. We would quickly be pulled aside and reminded that this was not a 'show'. [...] It was a 'job interview'."

Candidates, she writes, were told they were going to be held to strict codes of behavior, and that included acting professionally at all times, and being aware that they weren't on any of the other more gritty shows that appealed to the baser natures of a worldwide audience. For her, the difficulty came in balancing the requests for their own professionalism with the way they were addressed, which she says wasn't just highly unprofessional but, often highly inappropriate.

She wrapped by saying, "As new revelations about Donald Trump's behavior toward women arise every day, it's become clear that the producers weren't lying: Our experience on The Apprentice was indeed a typical Donald Trump interview."

Former contestants have incredibly polarized views of what went on behind the scenes

Jenn Hoffman isn't the only candidate who has come out to talk about their experiences behind the scenes, and when Cosmopolitan talked to 18 former candidates, they found that there were incredibly polarizing views on the show and what went on when the cameras were off… or out of range.

According to Season 5 candidate Andrea Lake, "You know, he is a really, really funny guy. He's very sharp, and he's very witty. If he likes you, he is warm and funny and charismatic and lovely. And if he doesn't like you, just get out of the room. He is not nice to people that he does not like." She also says that because he recognized that she was more that just a beauty queen, he was able to appreciate her for her business sense. "There were other women [on the show] who he was clearly attracted to and who didn't have the same kind of business attitude that I did; he treated me quite differently."

According to Season 7's Tyana Alvarado, having a personal experience in dealing with Trump made her look at him in a different way. "I don't think Trump is racist at all, and I wasn't offended by his comment about the wall or, you know, Mexicans being rapists. I'm a woman, I'm Hispanic, I'm everything they say he's against and he wasn't against me!"

Not everyone had such glowing things to say about him. Season 3's Angie McKnight said, "In the beginning, I think he liked me a lot. [His advisers] like me a lot — they actually made him promise not to fire me [during one boardroom], and he fired one of his favorite girls instead, who I adore, by the way. We're still friends. That changed everything; [after that] he was condescending and dismissive and he was nasty. He's a bully, a school-ground bully."

Penn Jillette says it's shockingly honest in its horribleness

When Penn Jillette wrote his tell-all for Salon, he talked about the good and the bad from his experience on Celebrity Apprentice, and he compared it to junior high.

"All the arithmetic, the creative writing and the history are super simple, but like junior high, you do all that work surrounded by people who are full-tilt hormone-raging bugnutty. Everyone is panicked, desperate, yelling, swearing, attacking, backstabbing, failing to get laid and acting crazy."

He went on to say that The Celebrity Apprentice was honest is a weird sort of way, "[...] in that creepy kind of way that the guy who admits he's a racist is more honest." Even after being on the show, he said that he couldn't tell anyone the rules that governed it. No one could, he said, because it was literally just Trump doing whatever he wanted. "It's a pretend game, about pretend business, where you get pretend fired."

"But", he adds, "The Celebrity Apprentice people are honest. They don't pretend it's about something beautiful, and they don't pretend it's fair. It's venal people clawing at stupid, soulless s**t in front of the modern-day Scrooge McDuck in order to stay famous." Ouch.

Trump is still involved as executive producer, and he stands to make millions

Before The Apprentice returned from its two-year hiatus, a lot of things remained up in the air and a lot of things that needed to change before the show returned. The biggest change is in host, with Arnold Schwarzenegger taking over hosting duties from Donald Trump. In spite of Trump's assurances that he'd be giving up all other duties that might result in a conflict of interest with his appointment as U.S. president, he's kept his name and loyalties attached to the show. The networks confirmed that he is still in a paid position, and while MGM (the deep pockets behind the show) will be paying him, they originally told Variety they were declining to say just how much he was going to be getting.

According to estimates from Forbes, the payday will be no small potatoes, and it's likely he'll be taking home around $7.4 million for the 16-episode series. That's for not only whatever work he actually does on the show, but also accounts for things like royalties.

Forbes also originally reported that Trump wasn't planning on taking any time to actually be involved with the production in any way whatsoever, a sentiment voiced by the Trump camp in the months before his presidential inauguration. Later, though, CNN reported that Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump's top advisers, said that he absolutely will try to be involved with the show in something resembling a regular EP role.

Conway was quoted as saying, "He's a very transparent guy. Everyone can see what he's doing, and the fact is that he is conferring with all types of experts who tell him what he can do and not do as President of the United States. If this is one of the approved activities, then perhaps he will consider staying on … I mean, presidents have a right to do things in their spare time, in their leisure time."

Schwarzenegger and Trump have a complicated relationship

Regardless of how else anyone feels about both Donald Trump and new host of the Celebrity Apprentice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's undeniable to say they each have massive personalities. Both have waded into American politics, too, and given Schwarzenegger's recent ascension to The Apprentice's boardroom throne, it might seem like those politics are at least somewhat in line. According to The Hollywood Reporter, however, that's definitely not the case.

On October 8, 2016, the popular trade reported that Schwarzenegger had made his political views very clear, stating on Twitter, "For the first time since I became a citizen in 1983, I will not vote for the Republican candidate for President." While his precise reasons went unstated, 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."

In spite of his very clear message, other Hollywood heavy hitters weren't swayed. In early November, Variety reported that Schwarzenegger found himself on the receiving end on some anger from Robert De Niro. De Niro, who bluntly refused to have his picture taken with Schwarzenegger, said, "If you're supporting Trump, I want nothing to do with you."

But just what Schwarzenegger really thinks of his Apprentice predecessor remains stubbornly unclear. When the LA Times reported on an early Apprentice press conference, they said that not only had Schwarzenegger said he had been on the phone to congratulate Trump on his win (even though he still maintains that he didn't vote for him), he also said that he saw nothing wrong with Trump's post-presidential ties to the television show, or the substantial salary he was getting.

"I knew from the beginning [Trump] was going to be executive producer of the show, his credit is on there," the Times reported him saying. "It's no different [from] when I was running for governor and I became governor, my credit as starring in Terminator … stayed the same."

Of course, given their recent spar over the Celebrity Apprentice's ratings, it appears their relationship will remain complicated for many years to come.

Schwarzenegger didn't even know what his new catchphrase was

Trump may have given a whole new level of schtick to, "You're fired!", but when he stepped down as host it was clear that a new catchphrase would be needed. The team managed to keep it under wraps until the season premiere, and according to Schwarzenegger himself, the whole thing was so secretive that he didn't even know what it was going to be.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, there were nine different catchphrases considered and keeping the final winner under wraps was of the utmost importance. Schwarzenegger did reveal that eight of the sayings were associated with some of his movies, and that there was one more potential catchphrase. Endings were shot with all the potentials, and it wasn't until the show premiered that the world — and Schwarzenegger himself — found out which was going to be used.

For the record: it's "you're terminated." (Groan.)

Trump has gone head-to-head with The Apprentice's UK host

Donald Trump has a knack for making people angry, and his feuds have even extended to the other hosts in The Apprentice empire. In 2012, he went head-to-head with UK business mogul and Apprentice UK host Lord Alan Sugar over wind turbines… and it quickly escalated.

Trump started the Twitter war, writing, "How can George Osborne reduce UK debt while spending billions to subsidize Scotland's garbage wind turbines that are destroying the country?"

That was on December 6, and as of December 7, The Guardian reported that Lord Sugar's responses had been removed from his Twitter account. According to Digital Spy, though, Sugar's first Tweet had been, "Scottish don't want wind turbines… I think you have that wrong. The Scottish don't want you!"

Digital Spy also reports that the Twitter meltdown continued, with Trump soon tweeting things like how grateful Sugar should be that he got a job on The Apprentice, and how he owes all of his success and money to Trump. (For the record, Lord Sugar built his £1.4 billion empire up from a small business selling electronics from the back of his van. Most of his money came from his real estate and property deals.) According to Trump, though, Sugar owed it all to him and he should, "Drop to your knees, Sugar, and say thank you, Mr. Trump."

The Guardian says that tempers cooled eventually, but Lord Sugar apparently didn't entirely let the matter go. When Trump was fired by NBC amid controversy over sexist and racist remarks, The Guardian reported that Lord Sugar would be happy to take the place of the US host who he said had "a charisma bypass," in a wonderfully British observation.

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