What to Know About the Alleged Trump 'N-Word Tape'

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On May 30, 2024, Slate magazine published an article by Bill Pruitt, a former producer of "The Apprentice," the early 2000s reality TV show that brought future U.S. President Donald Trump back into the public sphere of attention. In the piece, Pruitt alleged that much of the show, which he emphasized was produced as entertainment, "played fast and loose with the facts, particularly regarding Trump," and that he could speak now about what he observed because a 20-year nondisclosure agreement had ended.

Pruitt's biggest allegation against Trump came at the end of the piece. According to Pruitt, during a recorded discussion about two finalist candidates late in the first season of "The Apprentice," Trump called one of the candidates, who is Black, the N-word.

The quote, as it appears in the article, was as follows: "'Yeah,' he says to no one in particular, 'but, I mean, would America buy a n— winning?'"

Pruitt noted earlier in the piece that the quotes were paraphrased and not verbatim, so Snopes reached out to Slate to ask about its fact-checking process and how much of the information in Pruitt's article was independently confirmed before publishing. We will update this story if we receive a response.

In the meantime, many reliable media outlets began running the story, all based on information in the Slate article

Jasmine Harris, director of Black media for President Joe Biden's campaign, released a statement on behalf of the Biden-Harris campaign condemning Trump:

No one is surprised that Donald Trump, who entered public life by falsely accusing Black men of murder and entered political life spreading lies about the first Black president, reportedly used the N-word to casually denigrate a successful Black man.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung called the allegations "completely fabricated":

This is a completely fabricated and bulls*** story that was already peddled in 2016. Nobody took it seriously then, and they won't now, because it's fake news. Now that Crooked Joe Biden and the Democrats are losing the election, they are bringing up old fake stories from the past because they are desperate."

The rumors certainly predate 2024 — the claim did pop up during Trump's 2016 presidential run, as  Cheung implied.

A New Yorker profile from 2018 about a different "Apprentice" producer, Mark Burnett, waffled on it. Some paragraphs discussed people saying the comments and tape were real. Other paragraphs suggested the opposite. In a 2020 MSNBC interview, Trump's niece Mary Trump claimed that she had heard her uncle use racist and antisemitic slurs.

As far as we could tell, the only time Trump himself ever publicly addressed the rumors was in a 2018 tweet, when he denied them in a roundabout way ("Omarosa" here refers to Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former "Apprentice" contestant and Trump aide who also alleged he used the N-word):

.@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.

The rumored tape has never surfaced. In his article, Pruitt wrote that he suspected it never will.


Lots of websites and social media accounts call their content "news," but their quality and reliability vary enormously. Snopes urges caution before sharing information that hasn't been independently verified by a trusted news or fact-checking outlet, such as Snopes, The Associated Press, Reuters, BBC, POLITICO, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and so on.

If you come across questionable rumors related to the tape, send them our way. We'll do our best to look into them.


Dorn, Sara. "Trump Used N-Word, 'Apprentice' Producer Says—Biden Calls Foe Racist." Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/saradorn/2024/05/30/trump-used-n-word-apprentice-producer-says-biden-calls-foe-racist/. Accessed 30 May 2024.

Jackson, David. "Joe Biden, Donald Trump Campaigns Clash over Report Accusing the Former President of Using the N-Word." USA TODAY, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2024/05/30/biden-trump-campaigns-the-apprentice/73910082007/. Accessed 30 May 2024.

Johnson, Ted. "Producer On 'The Apprentice' Claims Donald Trump Used N-Word When Faced With Prospect Of A Black Winner In Show's First Season." Deadline, 30 May 2024, https://deadline.com/2024/05/trump-the-apprentice-n-word-bill-pruitt-1235944516/.

Keefe, Patrick Radden. "How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success." The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2018. www.newyorker.com, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/07/how-mark-burnett-resurrected-donald-trump-as-an-icon-of-american-success.

Kilander, Gustaf. "Former Apprentice Producer Claims Trump Used Racial Slur on Set." The Independent, 30 May 2024. www.independent.co.uk, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-apprentice-producer-b2553908.html.

"Mary Trump on Whether She Ever Heard the President Use a Racial Slur: 'Of Course I Did.'" NBC News, 17 July 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/mary-trump-if-she-ever-heard-president-use-racial-slur-n1234119.

Pruitt, Bill. "The Donald Trump I Saw on The Apprentice." Slate, 30 May 2024. slate.com, https://slate.com/culture/2024/05/donald-trump-news-2024-trial-verdict-apprentice.html.

Suebsaeng, Daniel Kreps, Asawin, et al. "Donald Trump Again Accused of Using N-Word on 'The Apprentice' Set." Rolling Stone, 30 May 2024, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/trump-accused-n-word-the-apprentice-1235030061/.

T, et al. "Omarosa Tells NPR She Heard Trump 'N-Word Tape,' Contradicting Her Own Tell-All Book." NPR, 10 Aug. 2018. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2018/08/10/636955054/omarosa-tells-npr-she-heard-trump-n-word-tape-contradicting-her-own-tell-all-boo.