Lil Jon confirmed that Donald Trump called him “Uncle Tom” during the taping of Celebrity Apprentice in 2013, corroborating a story Apprentice staffers told The Daily Beast. In a Twitter statement, the “Turn Down for What” rapper addressed the “Uncle Tom incident” but didn’t speculate on whether he believed the mogul understood the term was racist or not.
“When this ‘Uncle Tom’ incident happened on Celebrity Apprentice in the boardroom several of my cast mates and I addressed Mr. Trump immediately when we heard the comment,” Lil Jon wrote. “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.”
The rapper added, “I also want to be clear that I don’t agree with many of the statements Mr. Trump has said during his current run of President.”
On an episode of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, which aired in early 2013, Lil Jon bought and wore an Uncle Sam costume during one of the show’s competitions. When Trump heard about Lil Jon’s efforts, the mogul began jokingly referring to the rapper as “Uncle Tom” to Apprentice staffers, not realizing that “Uncle Sam” was a patriotic mascot and “Uncle Tom” was a racial epithet.
“We kept trying to explain to [Trump] that that’s not a word you can use, that it’s offensive,” an 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.”
According to Lil Jon’s account, it wasn’t until the rapper and other cast members clarified the meaning of the epithet that Trump finally stopped saying it aloud.
Following the report, and prior to the Lil Jon statement, the Trump campaign spokesperson issued a statement saying of the “Uncle Tom incident,” “This is simply untrue.”
The Lil Jon story arrived the same day Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant, accused Trump of unwanted sexual contact.
— LILJON (@LilJon) October 15, 2016