Although his widely read piece, titled "How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success," implied the same position through the sources that spoke on the record, Patrick Radden Keefe made his opinion on the issue clear Friday while appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"There's been a lot of speculation about Trump using the n-word on one of these tapes, and I came out -- and I don't know what I don't know -— but having talked to a whole bunch of people about this, I came out believing that tape probably doesn't exist," he said.
"I talked to people who would know -- editors who worked on the show for many years, people who hate Trump -- and they basically said, 'Look if anybody knew about that tape I would know about it. I would love to know about that tape. I would leak that tape if I had it. It doesn't exist,'" he continued. "What they told me is if there was such a tape, it would have spread by now, it would have come out."
Tom Arnold, who Burnett wanted to cast on "Celebrity Apprentice," is among those who is confident such a tape exists, and he even has his own Vice reality show centered around trying to hunt it down. Back in December of 2016, after Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, the actor appeared on a radio show to proclaim, "I have the outtakes to 'The Apprentice' where he says every bad thing ever, every dirty, every offensive, racist thing ever. I have that."
His explanation for why the tapes haven't been made public went as follows: "Now these people -- two editors and an associate producer -- are scared to death. They're scared of his people, they're scared of they'll never work again, there's a $5 million confidentiality agreement."
In a later Rolling Stone interview, Arnold said he had viewed the clips via a link that has since expired, so he no longer has access to it.
Omarosa, who met Trump on "The Apprentice" and worked in his White House administration before getting canned by former Chief of Staff John Kelly, has also said she's heard that such a tape exists. In her book, "Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House," she wrote that she spoke to "three sources in three separate conversations [who] had described the contents of this tape."
"They all told me that President Trump hadn't just dropped a single N-word bomb. He'd said it multiple times throughout the show's taping during off-camera outtakes, particularly during the first season of 'The Apprentice,'" she wrote. However, one of the sources she cited, CNN regular Frank Luntz, said her claim about him talking about the tape was "flat-out false."
But Keefe did make it clear that there are "Apprentice" tapes featuring Trump saying some questionable things, he's just not sure if it's another bombshell like those "Access Hollywood" tapes, which captured the reality star bragging to Billy Bush about grabbing women by their privates.
"I talked to a whole bunch of people about what might be on those tapes. Where I came out is that there is a great deal of Trump saying awful things about women, which he did, on the show," Keefe explained. "Is there anything that rises to the level of the 'Access Hollywood' tape? I don't know."
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough also said he was skeptical of "Apprentice" outtakes featuring Trump saying the N-word, because he used to be friendly with the president before politics splintered their relationship.
"Yes, there were times when he would say misogynistic things," the former Republican congressman said. "But one of the things that surprised us about the political persona that he took on is he did not say racially insensitive things, at least around us behind closed doors."
There seems to have been at least one racially insensitive moment from Trump while shooting "The Apprentice," and the African-American contestant on the receiving end of the alleged slur has confirmed it happened.