No offense to the American Idol runner-up and North Carolina Congressional hopeful, but this isn’t a sentence we ever thought that we would type: On a day when Donald Trump Jr. screwed his whole family over like he was auditioning for Game Of Thrones, the award for sickest political burn goes to Clay Aiken. Aiken was a guest on the Domecast, a podcast produced by Raleigh, North Carolina’s News & Observer paper, this week, and amid talk of wind farms and a proposed law to allow North Carolina restaurants to serve alcohol with Sunday brunch he managed to hit Donald Trump in his most vulnerable spot: His ego.
Along with his wealth, one of Trump’s most enduring boasts is that he’s the great decider, not least on his reality shows The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice. He even went so far as to parrot his famous catchphrase on the campaign trail, like this North Carolina campaign rally where he cuts off a supporter’s question to repeat it. Hear those dummies roar:
And again, at a speech in Indianapolis, again to the audience’s delight:
But according to Aiken, Trump was actually a puppet of the reality show’s producers (NOPUPPETYOU’RETHEPUPPET) who had no idea what was going on on the set. He didn’t even decide who was going to be fired that week, as that information was fed to him via a “phone” on his desk. Aiken says:
Trump didn’t decide who got fired on Apprentice, I mean, NBC made those decisions … There used to be a little thing right on his desk that looked like a phone—he pretended it was a phone—but it was actually a teleprompter where the producers were sending him notes. He didn’t know that people were getting in fights during the week while we were doing these tasks, the producers did. And they’d send him notes and he’d say, ‘Oh you two didn’t get along.’ It was very much, ‘I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.’
Aiken adds that while he thinks Trump is a “nice guy,” ”I feel like half the time his teleprompter has broken down as president and he doesn’t know what’s going on.” He adds, “He didn’t make those decisions, he didn’t fire those people.”
Is this a surprise, knowing what we know about the behind-the-scenes machinations of reality TV? Of course not. But knowing what we know about Trump and his massive ego, the idea that the two-word symbol of his shrewd judgement is nothing more than an empty catchphrase will get to him in a way that few other things—save maybe a blonde woman making insinuations about the size of his hands—can. While NBC and production company Mark Burnett Productions have yet to comment on Aiken’s interview, we’re anticipating a statement from Trump on Twitter sometime between, oh, 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. Washington time.