Celebrity Apprentice is still on the air, and it aired its 14th season debut on Sunday night. It's still making viewers squirm. However, this time it could have been avoided, or at least handled a little better by NBC.
Keshia Knight Pulliam — best known for her role as wee Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show — and her apprentice team were given a simple task for the reality program: contact rich friends and ask them to contribute dough to a bake sale. Pulliam's team repeatedly asked her to ask her old TV dad, Bill Cosby for some money, but Pulliam refused to call him. When the team came in last for the fundraising assignment, Pulliam was taken to task by the judges and teammates for not stepping up and calling Bill. Donald Trump particularly seemed disgusted at Pulliam's reason for not reaching out to him: she hadn't talked to Cosby in years, and even then it was only at Cosby nostalgia events. They don't have an ongoing relationship.
Now, this season began filming while most of America still had an ongoing fond relationship with Cosby. So when she was being admonished by everyone around her for not calling everyone's favorite TV dad — it should be so easy! Bill is the sweetest man alive with deep pockets — (most likely) no one was aware of the astounding number of rape allegations that have now been stacked up against the man who played papa Huxtable.
What's truly baffling about the season premiere is that the producers didn't revisit the original edit of the board meeting when the entire room is laying into Pulliam. It's cringeworthy. Pulliam can't even get her own words in about the distance between her and Cosby. Everyone interrupts her. And there isn't even a disclaimer about when all this was shot, so everyone except Pulliam looks pretty bad right now in January 2015.
We've now seen so many video clips of women speaking against Cosby and his alleged habit of drugging and raping women. It's truly horrific to see a woman, who knew him as a child growing up — and who doesn't want to call him on the phone — be asked repeatedly "what is wrong with you? Your teammates don't have the same connections that you have." The underlying horror from the judges is: you have the easiest path to get ahead on this show because you know Bill Cosby. All this finger wagging and contestant silencing was for a bake sale.
Pulliam lost the very first challenge on the 14th season of Celebrity Apprentice because she didn't call Bill Cosby. I suppose, since that one episode had so many toxic moments due to her association with a man who is having a very public downfall, maybe it's for the best. People won't tune in to see a woman chastised for not being warm and cuddly with Mr. Huxtable.
Now, we don't know what Pulliam actually knew regarding these mounting allegations, so we aren't trying to lead you to the conclusion that anything she heard created distance in her relationship with Cosby. But the producers had to know that now, months later, in January 2015 that everyone watching would be thinking of that every single time his name is mentioned. And it was in poor taste to not directly acknowledge the elephant in that board room, while a woman was being dismissed.