Trump’s many controversies make legal claims against ‘The Apprentice’ film hard to prove, entertainment lawyer says

  • Donald Trump is challenging “The Apprentice” biopic; his lawyers called it a “libelous farce.”
  • The film depicts controversial claims about Trump’s personal life.
  • An entertainment lawyer says proving defamation is an uphill battle for the embattled former president.

Donald Trump has an abundance of legal battles to worry about, but his most recent fight is one he’s starting himself.

In a cease-and-desist letter obtained by Business Insider’s Jacob Shamsian on Friday, Trump’s lawyers railed against “The Apprentice,” an independently produced movie that premiered this week at the Cannes Film Festival.

His attorneys called the Trump biopic a “libelous farce” in the letter, but an entertainment lawyer who spoke to said it’s an uphill battle for Trump to prove that’s the case — especially if the filmmakers made it clear that the film is not a representation of the truth.

The film states that it is “inspired by true events,” the Associated Press reported.

“That’s typically enough to give the makers of the show enough wiggle room to use their expression and avoid defamation cases,” Camron Dowlatshahi, an attorney at Mills Sadat Dowlat LLP.

Dowlatshahi said even if Trump happens to prove the film is defamatory, the embattled former president, constantly in the headlines for his many felony charges, will have to quantify that this one film had some effect on his brand.

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, previously said in a statement that the film was filled with “blatantly false assertions.”

“This garbage is pure fiction which sensationalizes lies that have been long debunked,” Cheung said.

Although it’s unclear what is true and what is fiction, what is true is that many of the rumors about Trump in the movie — played by “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” star Sebastian Stan — have been following the real-life Trump for quite a while.

For example, critics who saw the movie at the French film festival say the movie depicts Trump raping his first wife, Ivana. The claim was made and later retracted by Ivana herself.

The film also reportedly depicts Trump suffering from erectile dysfunction. While there are no reports of Trump having ED, this creative liberty could have grown out of Trump’s former longtime doctor saying the former president had been taking finasteride for hair loss, The New York Times reported in 2017. The drug can cause erectile dysfunction.

Now, as Trump goes head to head with the indie film, it could draw attention to these rumors, Dowlatshahi said. This is known as the “Streisand effect” — creating more attention for something by attempting to keep it quiet.

Dowlatshahi said the added attention might even benefit the production company, Tailored Films, which called the movie a “fair and balanced portrait” of the former president in a previous statement.

“If they’re trying to get sold and companies see that there’s potential for litigation, that might give them cold feet. I should note that this looks like a pretty high-quality production, so with all the buzz around it, it might be worth it for a company to take that risk and purchase the film.”

Representatives for Trump and Tailored Films did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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