Who surprised Donald Trump the most during the making of the first-ever “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice”?
Two names who might surprise you too: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman and eccentric movie actor Gary Busey.
“[Rodman] really came a long way” since his previous appearance on “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2009, The Donald told Xfinity, when we caught up with him in the company of two “Apprentice” contestants and three other Trump family members at a meet-and-greet with the press this week in New York.
The event was held to promote this Sunday’s premiere of “All-Star” — the first-ever “All-Star” edition of “The Apprentice” and the 14th cycle since the show was launched in 2004.
The “All-Star” show brings back former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants — 14 in all (eight male and six female) — all but one of whom lost previously (the sole returning winner: Poison rocker Bret Michaels).
On the subject of Busey, Trump said: “Gary Busey does very well. He’s a genius in many respects.” However, as everybody does when talking about Busey, Trump qualified the statement with an acknowledgement that Busey comes across to most people as, well, unglued — due mainly to his propensity for odd statements and out-of-leftfield pronouncements.
Busey does plenty of that this Sunday (March 3) on the “All-Star” season premiere (starting at 9/8c on NBC), particularly during a scene where he makes a series of off-the-wall suggestions for the name of his team — captained by country music star Trace Adkins. Needless to say, Busey’s ideas don’t fly (but they are entertaining!).
Omarosa’s name came up too in our conversation with Trump, but the context was not exactly complimentary. “Omarosa goes crazy,” he told us. “She’s vicious.” Omarosa (who’s going by her one name these days) is back for her third go-round on “The Apprentice” — the most of any contestant ever. And from what we’ve seen of this Sunday’s premiere, “vicious” is right. (Our brief take on that: Fact is, she’s so unlikable that we found ourselves wishing she would leave the show as soon as possible. However, our guess is that the show’s producers will try — as much as they can within the limitations of the show — to keep her around as long as possible. That’s how polarizing and riveting she is — at least to others if not to us.)
At the press event this week, held in the lobby of Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, none of the various participants we talked to would reveal who got fired soonest, who lost and who won (understandably). But they did reveal a handful of tantalizing tidbits about the upcoming season:
Contestant clashes: Twisted Sister rocker Dee Snider, who clashed last season with Lou Ferrigno, revealed that this time around he battles teammate Penn Jillette. Nevertheless, he said, “As a rule, I get along with people.”
Stephen Baldwin of the Baldwin family of actors revealed that he “clashed with everyone this time around,” though he struggled unsuccessfully to explain why. On the other hand, he also praised at least two of his teammates — “nice gals” Lisa Rinna and Marilu Henner. Maybe he didn’t clash so much with them.
On how the roster of returning contestants changes the show’s dynamic: Almost everyone said this cycle seems different than the rest because everyone on the show is a repeat performer. For Baldwin, it was the reason he said yes. “I thought the excitement of everybody having done it before was very motivating,” he told Xfinity.
One of Trump’s sons — Eric Trump — noted that the returning contestants already “know how to the play the little games behind the scenes.”
Trump’s other son, Donald Jr., said all the action is heightened this season. Why? Because, he said, “we had the pick of the litter of [all the] personalities [who have appeared on the show].”
Dee Snider noted that this season’s teams are made up of both men and women — rather than pitting gender against gender. To him, this changes everything. His observation about the all-women teams of “Apprentices” past: “The women implode immediately.” In this new scenario, he said, the teams are “more business-like.”
“We brought back the brightest, toughest contestants,” Donald Sr. said. “It’s the nastiest season ever.”
On why “The Apprentice” is still on, after 11 years and 12 seasons. The last word goes to Mr. Trump, who noted gladly that 16 other business/workplace competition shows have come and gone (by his count) since “The Apprentice” premiered in 2004 (including, as he noted, “The Job” on CBS, which was cancelled recently after just two episodes).
“They didn’t have Trump!” he said flatly.
The full list of “All Star Celebrity Apprentice” contestants is: Trace Adkins, Stephen Baldwin, Gary Busey, Penn Jillette, Lil Jon, Bret Michaels, Dennis Rodman, Dee Snider, Marilu Henner, La Toya Jackson, Claudia Jordan, Omarosa, Lisa Rinna and Brande Roderick.