Joining reporters on a conference call leading up to the show's premiere, Debbie shared her thoughts on the Celebrity Apprentice experience, her relationship with Donald Trump and more.
What made you want to participate in the show? Did you have any reservations?
"At first I was concerned that it would be so taxing to my nervous system. I thought, 'Oh my God, do I want to put myself through this?' It's not for the faint of heart. Ultimately, the charity aspect nagged at me and I think anyone would be lying if they said that they didn't want to do the show because it's an amazing platform for everything you might have going on, like things in my life that people might not know about.
"Ultimately, the fact that we are gonna help people by getting out there and running around and achieving the nearly impossible in 24 hours of time won me over. It's amazing that there is that element to the show and to see that it raises so much for charity every season. Being part of that and seeing it unfold is incredible."
Your castmate Lisa Lampanelli has had positive things to say about you in the media lately. Were you friends?
"Lisa and I hit it off - we're both New Yorkers. I think people think since I started in pop that I'm very prissy, and Lisa was probably surprised that I'm very like her. I spent a lot of my life schlepping around New York with people not doing things for me. We got on well and had a similar energy. We had to take photographs with one another in one task but we didn't care how we looked, we just wanted to get it done. We really hit it off so it's nice to know that she's been complimentary."
Did anything surprise you about the experience?
"I definitely had times where it's like, you think you'll stay on schedule and will keep your cool at all times, but with very little sleep and with cameras on you all day, there are times when I got snippy. I have three sisters so that's a dynamic I grew up with. I think I have a very nice demeanor, but at the same time, when pushed, I will freak out. I have a backbone, but I don't feel like I'm terrible about it."
Did you have a strategy going into the competition?
"My strategy was to have no strategy, which may or may not have to been the smartest thing, we'll have to see. I wanted to be a key player and really go into the boardroom with an open mind and listen to what Mr Trump said. I didn't have any agenda against anyone in particular. There was some of that going on behind the scenes, some people were targeting others in particular but I didn't want to be part of that. One thing I learned is not to be shy about fundraising, Mr Trump taught me that. You learn on the show to just get out there and ask more. It was an amazing experience for me."
Is there anyone else you'd like to see go on the show... and maybe get fired?
"My obvious answer would be [fellow former teen popstar] Tiffany, but I actually know that she wants to be on the show and I endorse her being on it, so that was somewhat sarcastic. I'll just leave it at that!"
Did you have any concerns about protecting your brand?
"I had that thought in terms of, like, being a performer and a pop singer. Being seen in a group of people in this context, what will that be like? Being on stage is what I enjoy. But we have to come to terms with the fact that we live in a different world now and this kind of visibility... I had a meeting with the office manager and she reassured me that I hadn't sold out, but the visibility factor is amazing with this show. I did have that concern at first, though."
Was there anyone you looked up to from previous series?
"I love Marlee Matlin and when I found out I was doing the show, I called her and her interpreter and we all had breakfast and I kind of picked her brain. I wanted to go on and be me but I felt like she was the least gimmicky of everyone I've seen on the show and I wanted to approach it in a similar way".
What would you say was the most important lesson you learned from Donald Trump?
"I really just learned that I've always been resourceful, but I really realise now that I'm capable of anything. We'll do a project or whatever for three months and you'd use every bit of that time, but if you're given 24 hours, you can get it done. It was an incredible thing to realise. I knew it, but to exercise it and do it was great."
The Celebrity Apprentice premieres Sunday, February 19 on NBC.