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Reality TV Interview

'Celebrity Apprentice' Donald Trump on rivalries, life lessons, more

By
Donald Trump

© Rex Features

It's almost time for another exciting season of The Celebrity Apprentice, and no-one's more excited than Donald Trump to get back in the boardroom with this year's record cast of 18 celebrities to do some serious firing. The business mogul will hand out some of his most demanding tasks yet to stars including Debbie Gibson, Arsenio Hall and Clay Aiken, hoping that at least one of them will be able to deliver the goods.

In the lead-up to the show's February 19 premiere, Trump spoke to reporters about what audiences can expect from this season of The Celebrity Apprentice...

What do you know about business after so many years that you didn't in the beginning?
"That's a good question! I think that experience is a great thing - you learn so much. It's trial and error, but ultimately it becomes more trial, because you see what goes on. I've actually learned many things just from Celebrity Apprentice.

"One thing I did learn is that you never really know who's going to be great and who's not. Sometimes you're so amazed and so disappointed by some people. You see them and meet them and everything is great and you think they're going to be fantastic and then they turn out to be a total dud. Then there are people that you don't think will do well and they turn out to be superstars. That's something I've learned about the show itself. It's very hard to decide who's going to be a star early on."

You managed to get Arsenio Hall on the show, who has been out of the public eye for years. Do you consider that a serious score for the show?
"Arsenio is someone I've known for a long time - his show was the hottest show and he was the best at what he did. It was a buzz show, and then all of a sudden he was done and no-one kind of knew what happened. Arsenio went into hiding, but when a lot of people heard he was on our show, they thought it was a great get because people have been wanting him to do things for years.

"Wait until you see what happens - he does a great job and I think he'll have a very major show of his own after Celebrity Apprentice. This is his coming out party and a lot of people were really impressed. We were lucky to have him."

Donald Trump

© PA Images / Charles Sykes/AP



How would you have done on Celebrity Apprentice had you tried something like it at the beginning of your career?
"Probably poorly! It's such a hard job. These people work so hard. In a way, I could never understand it, but over time I did. If you look at Joan Rivers and how well she did... I mean, think of Trace Adkins. People hadn't heard too much about him and he's now the number one country singer and he didn't win. Piers Morgan took over for Larry King.

"Even people who were there for a few episodes did well. Not everyone was thrilled with having done it but most people who worked at it have done amazingly, particularly because they want to protect their brand. In some ways, celebrities work even harder than in the regular Apprentice, where people weren't really into it. Joan Rivers is 76 and she won and she had more stamina than the athletes, so it's great to see."

You've been involved with politics, especially recently. Do you think the current presidential candidates could learn something from you?
"I do think so, actually. I was told The Celebrity Apprentice could never be successful and as you know, it's been the number one programme plenty of times and has done really well. It's been a great success and it's a business show and business shows have never made it in primetime. I was told by agents that it was a waste of time and 12 seasons later, it continues to be one of the great shows. I've had a lot of fun with it, but this is an example of a show that's business oriented, even though it's entertainment."

Are there any rivalries that will develop this season?
"There was one rivalry that was really intense - Lisa Lampanelli versus Miss Universe [Diana Mendoza]. That was an unbelievable rivalry. I don't know what Lisa had against Diana, but it was brutal. Lisa is tough and smart but it was a tough rivalry. Diana ended up being very smart in an understated way, but Lisa went after her. This was a very smart cast and people are going to learn a lot. I've had emotional tasks but this was a group of very smart people as a whole."

You have Teresa Giudice on the show this season. Have other Real Housewives stars approached you about doing the show?
"Almost all of them! Teresa is on there and is great, as you know. She was a real piece of work and is terrific on the show. She's very tough, very educated and she's got her own ideas. She was a great character, no question about it. Virtually everyone wants to be on the show. We turn down many, many people for every one we take. Give me a list of 1,000 celebrities and you'd be surprised how many of them we've turned down."

Donald Trump

© PA Images / Arnulfo Franco/AP



What's the biggest lesson you've learned and wish to impart to the contestants?
"The harder you work, the better you do. Don't ever quit or give up. That's a lesson in life. I think it's just to work harder and never ever give up."

Is there anyone you'd like to see competing on the show?
"We have a lot of people who want to be on the show but they're a little bit afraid. Pete Rose is someone I'd love to have on the show but he hates the concept of being fired, even though I think he'd be great for it. He really wants to be on the show but he's afraid of it."

How do you choose which celebrities to feature?
"Well, it's celebrity, it's smarts, it's the level of enthusiasm that all of them have. It's very hard. All you can do is pick what you think is the best, in this case 18 people, which is the largest. It's done so well that they have two extra episodes this year, 15 or 16. It's just something you have to go with the gut. You pick people that you think would be really good together and I think that's why we have such a great cast this year. We really had some tough decisions to make and we hate to make them in some cases. We hate to tell people that they're not going to be on the show."

The Celebrity Apprentice premieres February 19 on NBC

> Donald Trump: 'Celebrity Apprentice cast is an iconic group' - video
> Donald Trump: 'I turned down stars for The Celebrity Apprentice'

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