NBC Universal may have fired Donald Trump from The Apprentice, but that doesn't mean the show won't go on without him. There have so far been 14 seasons of the highly popular reality show that has contestants vying for a position in the Trump Empire. While the network continues to search for a new host, former contestants are speaking out about Trump's presidential bid. From total support to absolute derision, here's what former Apprentice contestants think about Donald Trump.
Perhaps the most surprising show of support came from former Playboy playmate Brande Roderick, who competed in Season 2 of Celebrity Apprentice. Though she didn't win, she returned for a season of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice. During the show, Trump famously suggested Roderick would look "pretty on her knees," a statement that came to the forefront after Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly brought up the encounter during the first GOP debate earlier this month as she questioned Trump's past misogynistic statements. Roderick has since defended Trump, saying she doesn't even remember the quip being made in the first place. Speaking with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, Roderick had this to say about the incident:
Like him, I didn't even remember him saying that. ... I've always had a positive experience around Donald. He's always been encouraging. He's never been disrespectful to me. I don't condone men being derogatory, but I think he was just — he's on television. He's trying to be funny. I don't think that he meant anything horrible by it.
Omarosa Manigault, who appeared on the first season of The Apprentice, had similarly glowing things to say about Trump. Manigault has even playfully retweeted pleas to make her Trump's vice president if he were chosen as the GOP nominee. Regarding the legitimacy of his candidacy, the former contestant had far more positive things to say. Manigault spoke glowingly in an interview with MSNBC despite explicitly stating she wouldn't vote for him:
I think it's great for politics as a whole. To ask me if I would vote for him, I’m a journalist first and foremost, but I'm also interested in watching this political process unfold. He's like Tiger Woods. You know, when Tiger got involved with golf, people who had never been watching or involved or interested in golf, they got engaged. That's what’s happening with this Trump candidacy. People who were just not interested in the Republican Party politics, with all due respect, now they're engaged.
Other than these two women, the majority of former Apprentice stars have stayed pretty quiet about Trump entering the political sphere, though there is one former contestant whose derision of Trump stands out the most: Penn Jillette. Following his campaign announcement, Jillette incredulously tweeted, "Does anyone know anyone who is seriously supporting Trump for president? Even one person? I guess I know Donald, but other than him?" Trump fired back a month later, complaining about Jillette's Broadway show and claiming that "without The Apprentice, [the] show would have died long ago."
When it comes to statements that Trump has specifically made while running, Apprentice Season 1 contestant Katrina Campins and Season 4 winner Randall Pinkett had plenty to say about Trump's controversial immigration comments. The two were interviewed together on CNN on July 10, and both had dissenting opinions about the issue. Campins was particularly vocal, praising Trump's honesty and ability to bring such an important issue to the forefront, saying:
I'm a Cuban American and so proud that my parents were immigrants, but they came here the right way. They followed the policy and things were done right. All he's saying is, it can't be a free for all and there has to be a procedure. And so everyone's up in arms because they're ... changing his words and just focusing on a few words.
Pinkett, meanwhile, completely disagreed with Campins' sentiments as well as Trump's doubling down on his comments against Mexicans:
First of all, I don't think Donald realized what he was saying as he said it. And he said it as he was kicking off his presidential campaign ... And then having been called out on saying it, the man is doubling down and not retreating, and not apologizing. There is no truth in the idea of immigrants being rapists and criminals. ... He is stereotyping and he is feeding into a stereotype, and if you endeavor to be the president of the free country then you have to have more responsible language, more inclusive language, more representative language.
No matter what Apprentice alums have had to say about The Donald, he's still leading the GOP pack. Based off a recent Fox News poll, Trump has 25 percent of the Republican vote. It seems the loss of the Apprentice franchise doesn't have any impact on his commanding performance with Americans.