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Quadriplegic settles 'Apprentice' lawsuit

Lawyer had alleged show would discriminate

A quadriplegic attorney settled his lawsuit against producers of NBC’s “The Apprentice” after they agreed to make clear the program accepts applications from the disabled.

James Schottel Jr., whose federal lawsuit claimed the show’s online application was discriminatory in requiring “excellent physical” health of would-be contestants, said Wednesday that producers agreed to insert a sentence into the show’s rules encouraging people with disabilities to try out.

Schottel said the new language reads: “All applicants who believe they meet our criteria, including persons with disabilities, are welcome and encouraged to apply to be a participant.”

“I think that’s satisfactory,” Schottel said. “I’m still a fan of the show, and I was pleased that the online application is going to be modified and that they have shown they have a commitment to consider people with disabilities. That was my goal from the beginning.”

Mark Burnett, who produces the show along with star Donald Trump, said: “It was never our intent to exclude from consideration persons with disabilities.”

“Even before we learned of this lawsuit, our staff in New York had already interviewed three persons in wheelchairs.” Burnett said. “We continue to urge all potential participants, including those with disabilities, who are interested to apply for the show.”

As part of the deal, neither Los Angeles-based Mark Burnett Productions Inc. nor Trump Productions LLC admit any wrongdoing.

Schottel never sought monetary damages. He sued here last month, seeking an injunction that would force “The Apprentice” producers to drop requirements that exclude him and “others similarly situated” from being considered for the show.

Schottel had applied to try out for the show when auditions were staged last month on the Casino Queen gaming boat across the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Ill.