In the wake of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” footage that caused a major scandal last week for Donald Trump — and Billy Bush — some reporters and activists have been looking into other recorded comments the presidential candidate made in his many years as an in-demand celebrity. Trump was a frequent guest on Howard Stern’s raunchy radio show, and in one appearance, he admitted that he would deliberately walk into the dressing rooms of pageants he owned while women were changing.
In a 2008 interview with Stern, as well as in separate TV appearances, the real estate mogul discussed how he wanted a particular contestant for his reality show, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” that he knew would drive up ratings: O.J. Simpson. However, Trump said, when he pitched the idea to NBC, which airs the long-running show, the network “went totally crazy.”
It’s understandable that NBC executives would recoil at the prospect of casting Simpson, given the notoriety the former NFL great achieved after he was accused of killing his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 after a widely covered trial — while most Americans believed he was guilty — and Trump was speaking of a 2009 season of “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump’s comments were dug up Wednesday by money.cnn.com, and they included his response to Stern’s question: “Why would you put him on ‘The Apprentice’?”
“In your business, there’s a thing called ratings,” Trump replied. “And, you know, you can come up with a cure for cancer — I found out a lot about your business, because, hey, I’m the biggest star. I’m now the biggest star,” Trump said. “… So I know that if you come up with a cure for cancer, and if you put it on, and if it doesn’t get ratings, they will not broadcast it.”
“So, you come with a cure for a disease — no good,” he added. “Now, I know this: If I put O.J. on — huge ratings. Oh, forget it, 35 million people.”
Trump said that “O.J. would have done” the show, but he refused to specify if he spoke to the disgraced football star directly about it. “I can’t go into the details,” he said.
But Trump left a hint about possible contact between him and Simpson when he told Stern, “I hadn’t spoken to him in years.” He went on to say, to laughter, “I don’t like people that kill their wives. Does that make sense? Does that make me a disloyal person?”
“I like women. I mean, I don’t even like guys that beat up women — you get a lot of those guys,” Trump said. When asked by Stern if he had ever “beaten a woman in a rage,” Trump replied, “No, I’m a lover not a fighter. Great lover, poor fighter.”
In April 2008, an NBC spokesperson, Amanda Ruisi, responded to media speculation by saying, “NBC representatives have never considered O.J. Simpson for the next season of ‘The Apprentice,’ nor will.” She also said (per Reuters) that Trump and Simpson had spoken.
Trump and Simpson had been close enough that the latter was a guest at the former’s wedding to his second wife, Marla Maples, which took place in 1993 — about six months before Simpson was charged with double homicide. “I think everybody in the country believes maybe their relationship can work, if this relationship can work,” Simpson said while at the wedding.
In the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary, “O.J.: Made in America,” one scene shows Simpson’s legal team rearranging his house in order to make him more appealing to the jurors in his murder trial. Among the changes made was removing photos showing him with wealthy white friends, including Trump.
While Trump campaigns for the presidency (with some supporters wearing “I wish Hillary had married OJ” shirts), Simpson is in a Nevada jail for armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges stemming from a 2007 incident in which he forcibly took some items from a sports-memorabilia dealer, including his Hall of Fame certificate and a pair of cleats used by former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. Simpson is eligible for parole in 2017.