Talk about uncomfortable timing.
On last night's season premiere of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, Keshia Knight Pulliam—aka Rudy Huxstable from The Cosby Show—got fired by Donald Trump after refusing to call her TV dad, Bill Cosby and ask for money.
The episode, of course, was shot months ago, long before the new round of rape allegations were made against Cosby. And now Pulliam tells E! News that she still feels she made the right call not to contact Cosby to ask for a donation for her team's first challenge, a pie-making fundraiser. (She ultimately was fired for not making the call.)
"That's a decision I made and I stand by it," Pulliam tells E! News. "I felt that it would be amazingly tacky to call someone [Cosby] after not having spoken to them, and I didn't feel that I needed that contribution at that time. A couple of other donors didn't come through."
Although her team (and Trump himself) might have assumed that the 35-year-old actress kept in touch with her TV dad, 23 years after their iconic TV show went off the air, Pulliam revealed that the reason she didn't call Cosby was because she hasn't really kept in touch with him. And another reason she stands by her choice? Her phoning him would have opened up a whole other can of worms of people wondering about the nature of their relationship.
"Now, had I called him, it would have been a whole other issue, so you can't worry about that stuff," Pulliam explains.
To date, at least 28 women have accused Cosby of raping and/or sexually assaulting them. Cosby has declined so far to discuss the claims.
"Ultimately, I wasn't there," Pulliam says of the Cosby allegations. "So I can't really speak to what transpired, I can only speak to the man I know. And he was an amazing, philanthropic, inspirational guy who always treated me very well…He's done a lot, in general."
Still, Pulliam, who was playing for her charity, Kamp Kizzy, which empowers young women, says she understands why the issue is so serious. "I'm very sensitive to women's issues," she tells E! News. "I do a camp for girls that's all about that. So, I get it. The whole situation is very very unfortunate."
Trump also stands by his choice to boot the 35-year-old actress off the show in the first episode, telling us, "[Keisha] made a mistake. She didn't call [Bill Cosby]. She could have called him and perhaps he would have made a major contribution and that would have made a big impact on her stay." Trump says he never considered editing out the Bill Cosby angle to the season premiere episode in the light of the resurfaced allegations. "I'm sure you saw that the ratings last night were fantastic," he explains, "I knew what was happening." Sunday night's premiere was up 35 percent from last year.
For her part, Keshia believes it was her teammate Kate Gosselin who should have been eliminated. "I felt like as a fundraiser," Pulliam explains, "if two people come in and neither of them are able to raise any funds, ultimately I didn't raise as much as I could have, some checks didn't come in, but I certainly raised as more than zero." Gosselin did not raise a dime, but Trump found Pulliam more at fault.
Trump also had some choice words about how Cosby has handled the rape-allegation scandal, saying, "Maybe he's guilty and it's very possible he's guilty. If he's innocent, he's certainly done a poor job of defending himself."
As for what's ahead Celebrity Apprentice, don't expect Kate Gosselin to go away any time soon.
"Wait until you see what Kate has in store," advisor Ivanka Trump tells us. "She definitely has a lot of passion and she's got a lot of fire in her belly. You'll be seeing a lot more of Kate through the season."
—Reporting by James Chairman