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Donald Trump's Fixation With Former Apprentice Contestant (Exclusive)

Donald Trump's Fixation With Former Apprentice Contestant (Exclusive)
Donald Trump's Fixation With Former Apprentice Contestant (Exclusive)


Donald Trump's treatment of women has been widely reported over the years, including his apparent fixation with Jennifer Murphy, a former contestant on season 4 of The Apprentice. Now, the depth of their bond is explored in Variety editor-in-chief Ramin Setoodeh's revealing new book, Apprentice in Wonderland.

In the book to be published Tuesday, June 18 by Harper, Randal Pinkett, another candidate from season 4, says that Trump openly boasted of his desire to develop a relationship with a woman seeking a job with him.

“I thought it was inappropriate, and not knowing Donald as well as I do now, it was in some ways shocking,” said Pinkett, who ultimately became the franchise's first black winner later that season. “This was a trade show. There is no place for these conversations in a business context. It was unacceptable.”

Of Murphy in particular, Pinkett says, “It was mostly among the men, where he was like, 'Oh, she's hot. Oh, I'd love to have sex with her.' Jennifer Murphy, that's who he'd be talking about.”

PEOPLE has reached out to Murphy and the Trump campaign for comment. The Trump campaign did not respond to PEOPLE's multiple requests for comment on Pinkett's allegations.

Before Murphy, 45, became a contestant on the fourth season of the once-popular NBC series, which aired in 2005, she competed in the Miss USA pageant system owned by Trump, now 78. The 2003 Miss Oregon USA winner met Trump while competing in the 2004 Miss Oregon USA pageant and although she didn't win, she says Trump approached her after the winner was crowned, telling her that she was his “favorite” of the group but that she could not get involved in judging the competition. Murphy then took advantage of this moment to appear on The Apprentice, a show she “loved.”

“He said, 'That would be great. Here's my card. Make sure you call me. I'll make it happen,'” she recalled, even though she ended up losing her card later that night. However, she still went out for the show and was ultimately cast.

“I decided to take part in the show the old-fashioned way,” she explains. “I wore the same costume that I wore for Miss Oregon and Miss USA for the interview. It was my magic costume.”

After being selected as a finalist, Murphy was lined up with four other women and entered a sequestered hotel room “and there comes Donald Trump!” Murphy said. Trump didn't know she would be there, but he remembered the former pageant contestant and greeted her “affectionately,” according to Setoodeh. “The other women were upset,” she says.

Jennifer Murphy at the 'The Apprentice 4' Finale After Party – Red Carpet at Planet Hollywood in New York, New York, United States.

Carley Margolis/FilmMagic

Behind the scenes, the book says there was “real reluctance” on the part of series creator Mark Burnett about Murphy's inclusion, since season 4 was intended to feature a cast of “business overachievers”. But Trump “ignored Burnett's objections” and “thought Murphy would make good television, equating his appearance to the ratings,” according to the book.

The reality star continued to give Murphy unfair advantages over other players, including introducing her to Lamborghini executives, calling her “favorite” just feet away from the other contenders.

Even today, Trump acknowledges that he thought Murphy was “really beautiful,” sharing in the book: “It’s not about favorite. Someone said, “Who do you think was the prettiest?” Okay, I don't know if she was good or bad.

Although Trump ultimately fired Murphy, he called her just one day after filming her big boardroom elimination scene. “I didn't want to fire you, but the producers kind of made me. But I still want to hire you,” she claims Trump told her.

From there, Murphy was sent to meetings with Trump's top executives. He would also offer her two jobs: working at the Miss Universe Organization or at the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, she said.

“I think he looked at me the same way he looked at his daughter,” Murphy says. “But also, I thought he had a bit of a crush on me.”

After a one-on-one meeting with him in his office, Trump walked Murphy to the elevator. He then leaned down and placed a kiss on her lips.

“I mean, he didn’t push it,” Murphy says. “It was like one, two, three with no tongue. I just let him kiss me. And I kind of turned red.”

Murphy previously spoke about the kiss in 2016, the year Trump initially ran for office. To this day, she insists she “was not offended” by his actions.

The cover art for “Apprentice in Wonderland” by Ramin Setoodeh is illustrated.


“He didn't catch me. It was done in a way where I could have pushed back,” Murphy says in the book. “I know the difference, and I can feel the difference. When someone is predatory versus someone who really likes beautiful women. I think, on the contrary, he likes beautiful women too much if he's a default.”

Murphy turned down both jobs to move to Los Angeles and pursue an acting career. One evening, as Trump arrived in town, she received a call from him asking her to meet him in his room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. But because she has “a conscience” and “integrity,” she says she “made up a reason why I was busy.”

That said, Murphy would later benefit from some favors from Trump. She asked to get married at one of his properties and even got a 20% discount on her total bill. She also asked Access Hollywood to “do a week's worth of segments about her July 2006 marriage, narrated by Billy Bush who is no stranger to Trump's approach to women and Nancy ODell. Murphy recalled Trump for him asking if he would record one of the spots with her, “It's good promotion for both of them,” the book reveals, with Murphy noting that Trump agreed to do it but only had 15 minutes to shoot the segment . He ended up staying much longer.

“He loves the cameras,” Murphy says. “We filmed for quite a while that day. He gave me a kiss on the cheek on camera.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends closing arguments in the Trump Organization fraud civil trial at New York State Supreme Court on January 11, 2024 in New York.

Shannon Stapleton-Pool/Getty

However, off camera, Murphy remembers Trump telling her he was in disbelief that she was marrying her dentist fiancé. “He put his arm around me. It was off camera. I think he hit my butt a little bit. I was like, 'My God!'”

Although the two continued to stay in touch for a while, things eventually soured between them when Murphy publicly addressed Trump's constant attacks on Rosie O'Donnell, saying, “It's not That’s how I would handle things.” He then refused an invitation to the premiere of his film, believing that she was “disloyal” after “everything” he had done for her.

All communication between the two ceased until after her divorce in 2007. At the time, she showed up at his office without an appointment, and they “basically reconnected.”

“There's something sexy about a man who takes control and gets things done,” she says, noting that she doesn't see the couple ever having a romantic relationship. “And I always liked it when someone was brilliant. I wasn't physically attracted to him, but I was and am attracted to whoever he portrays from time to time.”

Murphy says she plans to support Trump in the 2024 election, adding, “I think he always had it in him to help our country.”

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Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass comes out June 18 and is available for pre-order now, wherever books are sold.




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