Lil Jon has confirmed reports that he was repeatedly referred to as “Uncle Tom” by Donald Trump while appearing on Celebrity Apprentice in 2013.
During an episode dubbed “Men in Black Are Gonna Come Get Him,” the Grammy-winning rapper dressed as Uncle Sam in order to promote hair-care products. After catching wind of Lil Jon’s costume, Trump repeatedly used the derogatory term, The Daily Beast reported Friday, citing several former staffers on the show.
“Look, he’s Uncle Tom!” one longtime Apprentice staffer recalled Trump blurting out at least twice. The staffer said Trump was utterly tone-deaf to the racially charged history of the term, which is used to deride a black man deemed to be subservient to white people…
“We kept trying to explain to [Trump] that that’s not a word you can use, that it’s offensive,” another Apprentice employee told The Daily Beast. “One of the executive producers had to call him up directly to [plead with] him not to say it, and Trump was like, ‘No, that’s a saying, it’s Uncle Tom.’ There are several takes in the footage of the dailies that has him trying to figure out the difference between ‘Uncle Tom’ and Uncle Sam. He just couldn’t grasp that it was offensive… When [Trump] decides he wants to do something, that’s his way.”
In a statement issued Friday night, Lil Jon confirmed Trump’s usage of the term, writing, “When this ‘Uncle Tom’ incident happened on Celebrity Apprentice in the boardroom several of my castmates and I addressed Mr. Trump immediately when we heard the comment. I can’t say if he knew what he was actually saying or not, but he did stop using that term once we explained [its] offensiveness.”
“I also want to be clear that I don’t agree with many of the statements Mr. Trump has said during his current run for President,” the rapper added.
A spokesperson for Trump disputed the report, telling The Daily Beast that “it’s simply untrue.”