Richard J. Hewett never heard “You’re fired!” — but he’s suing Donald Trump anyway.
The rejected applicant for NBC’s “The Apprentice” is suing the real estate mogul, claiming he was turned away because of age discrimination.
Hewett was 49 when he was rejected in July 2005, and claims in his lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court that only two of the finalists covering six seasons have been over 40. He alleges Trump and the show’s producers are in violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
“People watching it get the impression that if you want to work for a big organization like the Trump Organization you have to be young,” Hewett said Monday. He’s seeking unspecified damages.
“The Apprentice” pits entrepreneurial-minded people against each other, with Trump firing contestants over a period of weeks until one is “hired” into a high-paying job in one of his companies. The new season of the reality show premiered Sunday night.
Hewett, who lives in Hampstead, N.H., is employed as a technology manager for a commercial real estate company. He wouldn’t reveal the name of the company. His lawsuit named Trump, the Trump Organization Inc., Trump Productions, producer Mark Burnett, Mark Burnett Productions and three affiliated California companies. NBC isn’t named as a defendant.
Trump, in a statement released by his spokesman, disputed Hewett’s claims.
“We have had very few people over a certain age apply to be on the show,” said Trump, the show’s executive director. “If they did and we liked them, we would love to cast them on the show.”
Trump spokesman Jim Dowd said a “minuscule percentage” of the more than 1 million applicants has been over 40. The finalists have ranged in age from 21 to 41, he said.
A representative of Burnett and his company didn’t immediately return a call.
“The outcome I’m looking for would be to see a recognition on their part that it’s in everyone’s interest to expand the diversity of the candidates on the show,” Hewett said.