Lil Jon has confirmed reports that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called him “Uncle Tom” while filming a boardroom scene for The Celebrity Apprentice.
The comment, first reported by The Daily Beast, was made during the thirteenth season of Trump’s NBC business competition series — which aired in 2013 as All Star Celebrity Apprentice.
The 45-year-old rapper, who had also appeared on the show in 2011’s eleventh season, returned to the show where he and his team were tasked to mount a marketing campaign for hair care products from Farouk Systems Products using a glass truck.
He decided to wear a patriotic Uncle Sam uniform in the challenge — which prompted Trump to allegedly begin referring to Lil Jon as “Uncle Tom” around the Apprentice staff, to guest-judge Arsenio Hall and to Jon himself in the boardroom.
Even after Trump was educated on the implications of the term — used to mock a black man deemed to be subservient to white people — the 70-year-old businessman allegedly did not stop saying it, Apprentice staffers told The Daily Beast.
“We kept trying to explain to [Trump] that that’s not a word you can use, that it’s offensive,” an unnamed Apprentice employee said. “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… ”
In a Twitter post on Thursday night, Lil Jon verified the report and Trump’s use of the word but said the GOP nominee stopped using the term once he explained that it was an offensive slur.
“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,” 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,” he added.
Jon continued: “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.”
Jon’s team lost the Farouk Systems Products challenge on the show. He was brought back into the boardroom (the show’s way of putting someone up for elimination), but was not fired.
He ultimately placed third in the series — losing to runner-up Penn Jillette and ultimate winner Trace Adkins.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment but the candidate did tweet what appeared to be a blanket denial to all accusations.
“100% fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter,” Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday. “FIX!”
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The reports followed an allegation that Trump had repeatedly hit on Matlin during the taping of the 11th season of the long-running reality show.
“I am Deaf,” she wrote on Friday. “There are millions of Deaf and hard of hearing people like me, in the United States and around the world who face discrimination and misunderstanding like this on a daily basis. It is unacceptable.”
“The term is abhorrent and should never be used,” she added. “As a person who is Deaf, as a woman, as a mom, as a wife, as an actor, I have a voice. And I’m using that voice to make myself heard…and vote.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, Trump’s rep denied the report made by the Daily Beast: “Marlee Maitlin is such a nice person, and Mr. Trump has great respect for her, but this report is completely false.”