Entrepreneurs

'Shark Tank' star Kevin O'Leary: Apology by New York lawyer whose racist rant went viral isn't enough

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New York lawyer whose racist rant went viral doesn't deserve a comeback,...

Aaron Schlossberg, the New York-based lawyer whose racist rant in a Manhattan eatery spurred a viral video on May 16, issued an apology on social media on Tuesday.

"To the people I insulted, I apologize," Schlossberg wrote in a message he posted on Twitter and LinkedIn. "I am not a racist," he added, claiming that the video in question did not capture "the real me." The apology came nearly a full week after Schlossberg's rant aimed at Spanish-speaking employees of a Manhattan restaurant went viral online and after two local elected officials told CNN that they filed a complaint with a New York court seeking to have Schlossberg's license to practice law suspended.

On Thursday, Kevin O'Leary, an entrepreneur and investor on ABC's "Shark Tank," said that Schlossberg is "an idiot" whose career could now be over. He told CNBC Make It that there "is not damage-control" for any business-owner who goes on a very public racist rant.

Now, in the wake of Schlossberg's apology, O'Leary tells CNBC Make It that the "mea culpa" should only be the first step if the lawyer wants to repair his reputation.

"Admitting this is unacceptable to anyone, apologizing and asking for forgiveness are good first steps," O'Leary says. "But actions, not words, are going to be what others will be measuring going forward."

"If you go on a racist rant, you've finished your career pretty well. And, if that's who you really are, your career should be finished," O'Leary said on Thursday.

After social media users identified Schlossberg as the man in the video, a Yelp page for his law firm, the Law Office of Aaron M. Schlossberg, was bombarded with one-star reviews from users commenting on his viral rant. Yelp even had to suspend reviews on the firm with a note saying the page is undergoing an "active cleanup alert," as a result of the flood of posts reacting to Schlossberg's news coverage.

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CNBC Make It asked O'Leary if he expects the law firm's reputation to rebound from such negative exposure. But the "Shark Tank" star had little in the way of encouragement for Schlossberg.

"You know, that guy's an idiot," O'Leary said bluntly. "I'm not sure he's coming back. If that's really how he thinks about people, he doesn't deserve to come back."

O'Leary added that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, you have to be careful about how you voice that opinion. "Those that go on rants, any kind of a rant — look, you deserve to say what you like, but you have to be respectful," he said. "And when you say things that are racist or sexist, you're just an idiot."

The entrepreneur and investor also said that business owners must always be mindful of the power and scope of social media, which O'Leary noted "can broadcast all of the good things you say, but more importantly it can also broadcast all of the mistakes you make."

After all, "what goes digital stays out there forever," he said.

"Think about what you're saying and who you're saying it to with the assumption that somebody's listening, somebody's watching and somebody will post it," O'Leary told CNBC Make It. "That's just the digital world we live in today."

Schlossberg discovered the perils of online infamy last week after tens of thousands of people shared a smartphone video showing him berating Spanish-speaking employees in the midtown Manhattan restaurant Fresh Kitchen. The video shows the lawyer threatening to call federal immigration authorities to have the employees in question "kicked out of my country."

Schlossberg has also been captured in other videos that surfaced recently in which he angrily confronted strangers.

This is an updated version of a previously published story.

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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