Schnatter, who is the public face of Papa John's, had apologized, saying, "News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true. Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society."
Forbes said Schnatter had used the racial slur on a call with a marketing agency while taking part in a role-playing exercise designed to prevent public relations crises.
Schnatter caused controversy last year when he said that Papa John's sales were hurt by the NFL's handling of the players' kneeling National Anthem protests. When asked on the call how he would distance himself from racist groups online, Schnatter downplayed his NFL comments, saying, "Colonel Sanders called blacks n****rs," and complaining that Sanders had never gotten backlash.
He also recalled growing up in Indiana, where he said people used to drag black people from their trucks until they died. Forbes said that Schnatter's comments were intended to demonstrate his opposition to racism, but that people on the call were offended by them.