Biggest Revelations About Donald Trump and More in “The Apprentice” Tell-All Book

Variety's Editor-in-Chief Ramin Setoodeh explores the behind-the-scenes drama from 'The Apprentice' in his new tell-all book, 'Apprentice in Wonderland,' out June 18

Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic Donald Trump on
Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic Donald Trump on 'The Apprentice' season 6 finale.

Before becoming the 45th president of the United States, The Apprentice franchise made Donald Trump a household name. Though he remembers his time working on the NBC reality series fondly, not all that went down behind the scenes was positive.

In the newly-released book, Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass, Variety Editor-in-Chief Ramin Setoodeh does a deep exploration into the shows within the franchise — and former host's behavior both on and offscreen. Explosive allegations emerge throughout, including from contestants.

Keep reading for the biggest revelations from the new tell-all book, out now.

Trump's agent advised him against starring on The Apprentice

In the early 2000s, the author noted that Trump was "soft-pitched a docuseries centered on his family." But he said the idea "didn't appeal to him." However, Mark Burnett — the show's eventual series creator who had previously developed Survivor — presented an idea that appealed to Trump much more: being The Apprentice.

Trump's decision to do the show "proved to be an alarming revelation for Trump’s representation, who tried to shut it all down." His agent at the time, Jim Griffin, warned that the series was likely to fail and that would be embarrassing for Trump, Setoodeh writes in the book.

But to their dismay, Trump was fully sold on Burnett's pitch, especially as he sweetened the deal by offering the businessman an executive producer credit. Burnett also agreed to split the profits with Trump on any product placement.

Mark Burnett is called out for his treatment of the contestants

Season 1 contender Kristi Frank told Setoodeh that Burnett would "mess with" the cast, beginning with the audition rounds. She first recalled waiting for hours to meet with him and then another time, he "pulled me out of the gym when I was working out, and then we had to do my interview" in her gym clothes.

“Even after Burnett had made his selections, choosing 16 finalists to compete on The Apprentice, he kept torturing his contestants,'" Frank said, in the book. "'They messed with us. They said, 'Donald Trump will be watching you guys throughout the whole thing.' And they’d say, 'Oh, he’s watching you. He’s keeping tabs.' No, he wasn’t watching us! He had no idea what we were doing."

PEOPLE has reached out to Burnett and the production companies associated with the show and had not received a response, at press time.

Fellow season 1 contender Bowie Hogg recalled Burnett quickly reneging on his promise to not put cameras in the bathroom of their temporary communal residence, with the author noting that Burnett "couldn’t help himself, and he eventually brought the cameras into the bathroom to collect footage of the contestants getting ready."

Kevin Mazur/WireImage Mark Burnett is pictured at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage Mark Burnett is pictured at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Related: How Mark Burnett Feels About Being Blamed for Donald Trump's Political Ascension by Jimmy Kimmel

There were also alleged incidents of "hazing," with season 2 star Rob Flanagan recalling during the interview rounds that there were "some attacks, not from Mark, but his team."

In another incident, Burnett reportedly told contestant Chris Russo that he was cutting him during the audition round because his wife was pregnant, saying that the player was "going to want to leave" if something happened to his wife or unborn child. Russo promised that he wouldn't exit abruptly if something were to happen, and Burnett made Russo "repeat his loyalty to The Apprentice over his unborn child until the producer was satisfactorily convinced."

Mark Burnett hired "rejected" Apprentice contestants to be junior producers

As the show started to come together, the author claimed Burnett hired a group of junior producers, "many of them rejected Apprentice contestants." He reportedly referred to this group internally as "the Dream Team."

The bunch would "run around Manhattan, doing mock trials of the tasks to make sure they worked in real time and ironing out hiccups before the actual contestants took them on."

Trump "almost presented himself as a Broadway character" during filming

Season 1 player Sam Solovey recalled his first introductory meeting with Trump in the show's iconic boardroom alongside his castmates, saying, "He almost presented himself as a Broadway character."

"When you go to a Broadway show, there’s a certain manner in which an actor is supposed to stand onstage, because they don’t use their hands," Solovey said. "Certain aspects of posture, cadence — he adopted all of that."

But Solovey recalled it not coming across as "natural."

"I don’t think people really analyze it, but it clearly was intentional," he said, in the book. "I believe the way that he presents himself is a larger sort of performance art. Just watching him, everything from the hands, the way he puts his fingers together and claps, the pointing fingers, the length of his ties, always wearing suits ... And I don’t think it’s natural—especially the speech pattern and the way he stands. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a tall guy and physically big. It’s all part of a product."

Trump would get "too close" to the contestants

According to the book's author, Burnett would move axed contestants — who still didn't have access to their wallets or other important personal belongings — into rooms at the Drake Hotel to avoid spoilers from getting out. This is when Trump allegedly "violated the golden rule of reality TV: never get too close to the contestants."

Trump would allegedly "regularly invite them over to his office, simply to hang out. They all had the ability to reach him. All they had to do was call his assistant." He'd even offer the fired male contenders some personal advice, with Bowie Hogg recalling Trump telling him to "always make sure you got a prenup," Setoodeh claims in the book.

Trump, according to former contestant Sam Solovey, would even invite the axed players over to his apartment. The author alleges that Trump "enlisted the fired contestants as his helpers long before the first episode of The Apprentice aired, back when they were still being held without their wallets in New York City hotel rooms during production."

Trump allegedly had various inappropriate interactions with female contestants

The book also recounts a few encounters Trump allegedly had with female contestants, including Trump's fixation with season 4 contender Jennifer Murphy.

"It was mostly among the men [on the show], where he’d say, 'Oh, she’s hot. Oh, I’d love to sleep with her.' Jennifer Murphy —t hat’s who he’d talk about,'" season 4 winner Randal Pinkett said in the book, noting that "There’s no place for those conversations in a business context" and that "It was unacceptable."

Related: Donald Trump's Sexual Assault Accusers Demand Justice in the #MeToo Era: 'We Were Forgotten'

<p>Scott Olson/Getty; Phillip Faraone/Getty</p> (L-R) Donald Trump; Jennifer Murphy.

Scott Olson/Getty; Phillip Faraone/Getty

(L-R) Donald Trump; Jennifer Murphy.

Although Murphy, who previously met Trump through his Miss USA pageant system, didn't win the season, she says that Trump would go on to forge a close bond with her post-show. He allegedly sent her to meetings with his top executives and eventually offered her two jobs, which she later turned down. But before that, the pair had an interaction in which he kissed her on the lips after a one-on-one meeting at his office, she recalls in the book.

"I mean, he didn't push it," Murphy said, noting that she "wasn't offended" by it. "It was like, one, two, three — no tongue. I just let him give me the kiss. And I kind of turned red."

Murphy also recalled Trump smacking her on her butt "a little" after they shot an Access Hollywood segment together.

Season 5 contestant  Summer Zervos' allegations of Trump kissing and later sexually assaulting her were mentioned, as well. But she declined to address the matter for the book.

Randal Pinkett recalled the aftermath of his then-controversial decision that led to him becoming the season 4 winner

In season 4, Trump presented Randal Pinkett with the option of sharing his win with eventual runner-up Rebecca Jarvis, but Pinkett declined the offer.

"I think he made himself unpopular by not doing it," Trump said, in the book. "He said no, and most people thought — especially the way I put it — he’d say yes. That’s his problem."

But Pinkett believes Trump attempted to dilute his win due to the color of his skin. “In retrospect, I would argue this: it was a combination of racism and sexism," Pinkett said, in the book.

Both Pinkett and Trump "took heat" for how they reacted in the moment. Eventually, Pinkett "confronted" Trump during a one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower where the show's publicist Jim Dowd, whom the winner hired, sat in to mediate.

<p>Jemal Countess/Getty</p> Former Apprentice participant Dr. Randel Pinkett speaks at the Former Apprentices Speak Out: Donald Trump, You're Fired! Press Conference at Roosevelt Hotel on April 15, 2016 in New York City.

Jemal Countess/Getty

Former Apprentice participant Dr. Randel Pinkett speaks at the Former Apprentices Speak Out: Donald Trump, You're Fired! Press Conference at Roosevelt Hotel on April 15, 2016 in New York City.

Though Pinkett did go on to work with Trump, as the only Black person in an executive role, the working relationship only lasted a year and they are no longer on favorable terms.

"I think Donald’s a racist," Pinkett told the author. "And I think he consciously and unconsciously and deliberately cast Black people in a negative light."

PEOPLE reached out to Trump's team for comment and did not receive a response.

Trump's presidential run was discouraged by NBC

From Trump's perspective, NBC applied the pressure to persuade him against a presidential run, the book details. Mark Burnett even called him regularly to talk him out of it, and NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke was also trying to dissuade him.

"We talked him out of running for president," said Bob Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment.

<p>ALLISON DINNER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock </p> Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks during an election rally at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 09 June 2024.


Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks during an election rally at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 09 June 2024.

Still set on running, Trump later expressed renewed interest in the idea. The businessman even claimed that he turned down the opportunity to host The Apprentice for another five seasons so that he could run for office.

"Steve Burke came up to see me with Paul Telegdy, and essentially said the same thing, 'We’ll give you anything you want,'" he recalled. "I said, 'Steve, I just don’t want to do it. I’ve done it enough. I’ve done 14 seasons in 12 years. I don’t need the money. I want to do other things.'"

Trump planned for his children to be his successors on The Apprentice, had the show continued amid his political turn

After leaving the franchise on his own terms, Trump still had ideas about how to keep it going — and who should take over his former role, the book explains.

"I said, 'The best person to hire would be Ivanka Trump,'" he said of his daughter, who began regularly appearing on the show alongside fellow Trump family members part-way through its run. "I didn’t press it. But I felt Ivanka would have been by far the best person you could hire.”

Mathew Imaging / Getty Images Contributor (L-R) Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump are pictured on the set of 'The Apprentice'.
Mathew Imaging / Getty Images Contributor (L-R) Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump are pictured on the set of 'The Apprentice'.

Trump also wanted his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, to take over as judges. "It was going to be the three of us. There were talks for a little while about it," Eric said.

However, according to Trump, "NBC didn’t like it, because it became like a family thing ... And then they came back with Arnold Schwarzenegger."

The Terminator actor was eventually tapped to helm The Celebrity Apprentice for one season before the franchise ended for good.

Donald Trump Jr.'s alleged affair with Aubrey O'Day on The Celebrity Apprentice

Clay Aiken, a fellow contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice, claimed that Aubrey O'Day was the only contestant that had Don Jr.'s phone number. He also said the pair's affair "was not a well-kept secret," and she later confirmed it to him when they were both performing at an event in St. Petersburg, Fl.

Aiken said there "probably should have been" rules against a reality TV show judge helping out a contestant with whom they're secretly romantically involved, indicating that American Idol — the show he came in second place on in 2003 — had "very strict FCC-regulated rules."

Arsenio Hall "felt guilty" about appearing on The Celebrity Apprentice

According to Aiken, who grew close to Arsenio Hall during their time on The Celebrity Apprentice, the comedian confided in him about his conflicting feelings about joining the show.

"Arsenio felt guilty for a while," Aiken said, in the book. Arsenio explained to me people think he’s racist because he’s been asking for [Barack] Obama’s birth certificate. I thought he was doing it for attention. I didn’t tie those things together."

Hall was later crowned that season's winner and went on to have a big career comeback. However, Aiken said: "Arsenio was worried doing the show might make him appear to be tacitly endorsing Trump in some way. And he told me afterwards he thought Trump probably just chose him to not make himself look racist."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.