PITTSBURGH (AP) — A handful of former contestants from Donald Trump's reality show "The Apprentice" say the Republican front-runner should not be president.
Half a dozen past hopefuls of the hit show, including Season 4 winner Randal Pinkett and Season 1 runner-up Kwame Jackson, are planning a press conference Friday in New York to denounce the GOP front-runner's bid ahead of the state's April 19 primary.
In statements, the contestants slammed Trump's rhetoric as divisive and accused him of running a "campaign of sexism, xenophobia, racism, violence and hate."
"Trump is passionately and strategically reigniting a dirty and divisive culture soaked in a history of prejudice, fear and hate. It is unpatriotic, anti-American, self-serving, regressive and downright lazy," said Marshawn Evans Daniels in a statement.
"As alums of 'The Apprentice,' we have had the opportunity to work with Donald in various capacities, including as employees of the Trump Organization," added Pinkett. "Based on that experience and Donald's campaign, we do not believe he is worthy of becoming president of the United States."
Trump responded with a harshly-worded statement slamming the group as "six failing wannabes" to whom he'd shown nothing but respect.
"How quickly they forget," he said in the statement. "Nobody would know who they are if it weren't for me."
Trump said he "couldn't have been nicer or more respectful" of the contenders and said they were only looking for publicity.
"They just want to get back into the limelight like they had when they were with Trump. Total dishonesty and disloyalty," he said, warning that, "They should be careful or I'll play hours of footage of them individually praising me.
"Ask how successful they've been since they left," he added. "Six failing wannabes out of hundreds of contestants — so sad!"
Trump has the support of other former "Apprentice" contenders, including Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, who has served as a surrogate and frequent defender of Trump on television news shows.