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Lawsuit filed against producers of "The Apprentice"

February 09, 2005

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A quadriplegic lawyer has sued producers of NBC's "The Apprentice," saying the tryouts for the popular reality show discriminate by requiring that would-be contestants be in excellent physical health.

In his federal lawsuit filed here last week, James Schottel Jr. wants a preliminary injunction that would force the show's producers to drop such requirements that exclude him and "others similarly situated" from being considered for the show.

The St. Louis attorney, who has applied to try out for the show when auditions are to be staged here Friday, seeks no monetary damages. He said the lawsuit only is meant to correct a perceived Americans with Disabilities Act violation by Trump Productions LLC and Mark Burnett Productions LLC.

"This isn't a frivolous lawsuit," Schottel said Wednesday. "Since the ADA was enacted, there have been great steps in new buildings and accessibility by (the disabled). But I rarely see a person with a disability" on television.

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Schottel, who has not seen disabled people on "The Apprentice," said he's concerned that the application process either blocks or discourages them. He cited a form warning applicants that "you must be in excellent physical and mental health" and "meet all physical and psychological requirements."

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization in New York directed questions to Los Angeles-based Mark Burnett Productions, which did not return messages.

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