Penn Jillette is claiming that President Donald Trump made “racially insensitive” remarks during his time on Celebrity Apprentice, which were captured on tapes that still exist.
Jillette, a professional magician who appeared on season 12 of the NBC reality series, confirmed to Vulture in a new interview that series creator Mark Burnett has tapes of Trump making the controversial statements.
Burnett did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Trump “would say racially insensitive things that made me uncomfortable. I don’t think he ever said anything in that room like ‘African-Americans are inferior’ or anything about rape or grabbing women, but of those two hours every other day in a room with him, every 10 minutes was fingernails on a chalkboard. He would ask one cast member if he’d rather have sex with this woman or that woman. He would be reading on the web about a real estate deal he’d made — like he’d sold his house for a certain amount and someone on some blog had said he should have gotten more,” said Jillette.
“Then he would turn and say that making X amount on a house makes him a good businessman, right? I would say to him, ‘What are you talking about? You don’t know who it is reporting that. Is that Forbes?’ He had no idea. So when it came to thinking about supporting him for president, I digested that information from being on the show with him and said, ‘Absolutely not. He would be a terrible president.’ And because I’d been around him and some people cared what I thought, I said that publicly every chance I got — while also saying he’s a good reality show,” he continued. “You want someone capricious and petty and narcissistic to be on your reality show. And boy, I hate to say this, but playing tapes of him doing that job might be unfair. I want those tapes to be used against him, but it might be unfair.”
Although Jillette claims Trump made racist remarks, he wouldn’t reveal the specifics of what was said to Vulture, specifically because Trump was elected as president.
“If Donald Trump had not become president, I would tell you all the stories. But the stakes are now high and I am an unreliable narrator. What I do, as much as anything, is I’m a storyteller. And storytellers are liars. So I can emotionally tell you things that happened racially, sexually, and that showed stupidity and lack of compassion when I was in the room with Donald Trump and I guarantee you that I will get details wrong. I would not feel comfortable talking about what I felt I saw in that room — because when I was on that show I was sleeping four to five hours a night. I was uncomfortable,” he shared.
Like Jillette, comedian and Roseanne Barr’s ex Tom Arnold also asserts that there are tapes that prove Trump was recorded making racial comments on the reality show. Arnold, who has known Trump for 30 years, has recently been on the hunt for the recordings, which he’s documented on his Viceland series, The Hunt for the Trump Tapes With Tom Arnold.
“There was a compilation tape of Apprentice outtakes. In the fall of 2016, I was doing standup comedy and the Access Hollywood tape had not taken him down. And I said, I’ve seen a tape, because people share stuff, of him. I talked about the outtakes that I’d seen and I went into detail about the specific beats that were put together on the shows and the specific things he’d said. There was a soft N-word, there was calling Eric [Trump] the R-word. A compliment was him saying some of the work there was ‘f—able.’ I actually got out a piece of paper and tried figuring out which episode that was from,” Arnold told PEOPLE earlier this year.
Arnold said that Trump didn’t specifically call someone the N-word, but explained, “He didn’t want to go to Rao’s because there are crazy N-words on the way up there. It was just in conversation, like no problem. Everything he said was not in secret, no problem, just casual.”
He also explained that the recordings were passed around by a crew member.
“It wasn’t big deal. Nobody thought it was a big deal. If you’re on a crew, everybody does it, like insurance,” he said of crew member sharing the tapes. “I remembered that I thought obviously if I could get this back and release this, it would be great. And then people freaked out, like I’m so scared of these Trump people, I would lose my career. And I don’t want to leak the guy who gave it to me. I still don’t think what was on those tapes would have made a difference.”
Jillette’s comments come days after Apprentice-contestant-turned-Trump-staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman claimed in her forthcoming tell-all memoir Unhinged that multiple sources told her that Trump was recorded repeatedly using the “N-word” in outtake footage from the NBC reality show, according to a report by The Guardian, which obtained an advance copy of the book. The New York Times also confirmed that Manigault Newman made the allegation about the president in her memoir, which comes out Tuesday.
On Monday, Trump tweeted that Burnett said that the tapes do not exist: “.@MarkBurnettTV called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa. I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have. She made it up.”
There have long been rumors that such outtakes exist. But in her book, the Celebrity Big Brother star goes on to clarify that although she believes the allegations are true, she never personally heard Trump use the racial epithet during her time on the show, The Guardian reported.
When asked about the allegation made by Manigault Newman, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told the Times that the “book is riddled with lies and false accusations.”
“Instead of telling the truth about all the good President Trump and his administration are doing to make America safe and prosperous, this book is riddled with lies and false accusations,” Sanders remarked. “It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the president during her time in the administration.”