With more contestants on “The Celebrity Apprentice” than ever before, the show has become even more competitive than what it has been in previous seasons. “The Celebrity Apprentice” is a contest with notable public figures competing to win money for their selected charities. They complete different business tasks in each episode. Contestants are eliminated by being “fired” by Trump, who declares the winner in each season finale. The show’s grand prize consists of $250,000 for the winner’s selected charity.
Season 5 of “The Celebrity Apprentice” has the largest number of contestants (18) for the show so far: comedian/actor Arsenio Hall, pop star Clay Aiken, radio host Adam Carolla, “The Incredible Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno, magician/comedian Penn Jillette, Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider, actor George Takei, IndyCar legend Michael Andretti, “American Chopper” star Paul Teutul Sr., supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, pop star Debbie Gibson, actress/singer Tia Carrere, author/reality star Victoria Gotti, comedienne Lisa Lampanelli, former Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, singer/actress Aubrey O’Day, actress/model Patricia Velásquez and “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice. Here is what Trump, Mendoza and Teutul said when they did a telephone conference call with journalists.
Paul, you were obviously around for the Buick challenge, so going into the presentation and after you saw it, how did you feel your team did? And do you think that Michael Andretti was used fine?
Teutul: That’s a tough question. You know, there’s a lot of controversy over that group. I think that a lot of people saw it as being unfair, but to answer the question, it’s like yes and no. I mean, should he have been the task manager? Yeah, he should have. Butto me it’s like if I’m in a store buying the store Buick and Michael Andretti is in the store and he says, “That’s the car to buy,” that’s the car I’m buying.
Donald, how much of a challenge was it for you in trying to debate between firing Lou Ferrigno or firing Michael Andretti?
Trump: They did, and I wanted more out of Michael. But, Michael’s a great guy and he really proved his medal when he drove, but that’s his strength. I mean, he drove, really, but of course if he didn’t, we have a major story, right, Paul?
Trump: But he really should have been the head of the team and he should have taken more control of the team, and you know I think we made the right decision, but Michael is an absolutely great guy.
Twenty years from now, how do you want people to remember “The Celebrity Apprentice”?
Trump: “Celebrity Apprentice” has just been amazing. And “The Apprentice,” the whole “Apprentice” franchise that we started, it’s in many, many countries all over the world now and it’s become so important. And this week, even that last half hour was through the roof with a very tremendous rating, and you know just continues to do well. So, we’re very proud of it.
I think just that we did a great job and we taught people a lot. You know, I get many, many letters from people, not only young people, just people generally saying they’ve learned so much by watching “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice,” and originally that’s how it started. It was going to be really an educational show, and then it went to number one on many evenings, and it was like the number one show on television and continues to do well.
I think it’s great if people can learn something from it. And as far as Paul and Dayana, they’ve both been incredible. They’re really smart people, really good people. In one case, we have a great beauty, and in another case we have a very strong guy who’s married to a great beauty. But, they’re both amazing people and they’ve really played the game well. Despite everything else, they’re really smart, and that’s why they’re still here.
Teresa Giudice has been much quieter than expected. She said in an interview she’s trying to kind of rebrand herself. Do you think that’s the case?
Trump: I don’t want to give much up, but as Dayana can tell you and Paul can tell you, she gets wild very soon. But I agree with you: She’s much different. She’s a very quality person. She’s much different than I thought she would be. I thought she’d be a total wild woman, and really she’s not. I mean, she’s more reserved if anything else. And I think it’s a lot different than when you see her on the other show because I don’t know why. I’m not sure if it’s rebranding or just that she’s maybe intimidated by a lot of other people because she is a little bit intimidated by some of the other people. She is more quiet than I would have thought she would have been. She’s a little bit of a surprise.
But she’s going to get wild in an upcoming episde?
Trump: Not negatively. When I say “surprised,” I don’t mean a negative surprise, but it’s surprising to me that she’s not more volatile. Yeah, she has her moments. Is that true, Paul?
Trump: She has crazy moments. But still, she’s more quiet than I would have thought, more subdued.
Are you having fun doing this season of “The Celebrity Apprentice”?
Trump: I’m having fun and I’m meeting some great people and I knew Paul a little bit through the Jay Leno show over the years. And he always wanted to make me a “Chopper” [episdode], and he made one, and it’s a masterpiece. I just told one of the big shows, “Entertainment Tonight” that it just shows what we can do in this country, in terms of technology and craftsmanship and manufacturing, because the “Chopper” he made is a masterpiece. Nobody else could do it like that. And so I’ve known that. And Dayana, who doesn’t come from this country, has turned out to be just amazing. So I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of great people.
Dayana, how have you enjoyed being on “The Celebrity Apprentice”? Has the show opened your eyes to the different ways of America?
Mendoza: To start with, it’s a different language for me, and I do speak English … but when people are talking too fast, probably not most of the words that are used I understand. So it probably holds me back a little from evaluating a task or thinking it through, obviously, if I don’t understand it that well.
But anyway, I’m still so fortunate and honored to be part of the cast and be able to work with these amazing people that have been working for probably 25 years of their life. I’m just 25 years old. And Mr. Trump, I thank him a lot for all the support and always being there to help out, you know?
And how are you getting along with all the other female “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants?
Mendoza: So far so good, I guess … for what you guys can see right now. I think you’re going to see things exploding very soon. But, I’m there to work and do my best and be professional and not trying to involve my personal feelings and personal issues with others, and that’s what I have to deal with most of the time during the show.
Trump: If I were a television producer or if I were a movie producer, I would sign up Dayana right away. She’s had a huge impact on everybody that watches her, and she blows away 99 percent of the people that I see on television…
She’s a star, and I think I can speak for Paul when I said she would be so great … I’m not going to mention names, but I see people on televisions where it’s not even a contest, and I would sign her up in two seconds. But fortunately, for the world, I’m a real-estate guy, not a television producer. But if I were a producer, I’d sign her up instantaneously.
Did you ever in your wildest dreams think “The Apprentice” franchise would be as successful as it has been?
Trump: No, I had no idea. My father would be spinning right now. He would have no idea. He said, “You know, you’re a brilliant real-estate mind.” He used to tell me all the time. And I’d say, “Thanks a lot, Pop, I appreciate it.”
He was tough cookie too. That’s sort of like Paul as a father … But he always used to think I was a great real-estate guy. If he would have said that we would have had the No. 1 show on television, he would have said, “You have to be kidding,” because it wasn’t his world.
But it’s turned out to be so successful and who would have known this? I mean, NBC didn’t know because they originally signed just for one season, and then there was a filler. And then, as you remember, we went on to be the No. 1 show on television. So nobody would have thought this would have happened and we’re having a lot of fun with it, and it’s great for everybody that’s been on it. I can’t speak for Paul, but I guarantee you his business is going to be through the roof. It already, is probably.
You look at Trace Adkins. He became the No. 1 country singer. You look at Piers Morgan. He took over [from] Larry King [on CNN], and people hadn’t heard of Piers, but he took over Larry King and he did “America’s [Got] Talent.”
And so many things. Joan Rivers [became] the No. 1 comedian in the country and her career was not doing well. I mean, she’s the first to say it. She said it in her movie. She did the show and she became the highest-paid comedian in the world right now.
So it’s been great for everybody. Dayana is going to be big things. Dayana hopefully is going to pay me 25 percent of everything she makes for the rest of her life, but maybe she won’t do that, and Paul will give me 25 percent of every Chopper he sells, so we’ll be happy. But I have some great people, and I’m proud of the people. When they leave the show they all — even the ones that don’t do as well as you would think they would do — do really well because they were on the show/
Paul, coming from a reality show yourself, why did you decide to do another one?
Teutul: I guess to get out of the comfort zone. You know, I’ve been doing my reality show for 10 years now, and it’s still going good. So, you know I just thought that it would be good to try and do something different. And when I say “different,” it’s very different than my show. So I thought it was a great experience. You know, a lot of times when I say get out of your comfort zone, there’s a lot of things that you don’t want to do that I find that I don’t want to do in life, but sometimes you just need to show up and it really changes your life.
Trump: I will say this: I wish Paul put my bike, the one he made for me up into that competition that he did recently, because I think it would have blown the competition away. I think that bike is so genius. It’s in the lobby of Trump Tower. And Paul, if you would have used my bike in that competition you would have blown the competition away. You understand what I mean, right?
Teutul: I do.
Trump: I’ve been meaning to tell you that … I think it’s just a real masterpiece and people are going crazy over it down in the Trump Tower atrium.
Mr. Trump, Would you ever consider doing a college version of “The Apprentice,” so people can win an internship with you?
Trump: We’ve thought of it, and we’ve actually thought of doing a “senior citizens against young [people]” version of “The Apprentice,” [with] very, very successful people that ran companies, even Fortune 500 companies that retired. You know, chairmen and presidents of these major companies against young college students that just came out, and they’re full of vim and vigor.
So we have a lot of different concepts. I’m in a world where it’s sort of interesting, because every network wants me to be on a show. They all want me to do a show, I guess, because of the success of “The Apprentice.” But I’m just enjoying what I’m doing on “The Apprentice.” I have so many people throwing shows at me, I feel like a movie star, but that’s OK.
But I love what I’m doing with “The Apprentice,” and I like making people happy. And I really love the celebrity version of “The Apprentice because so many people that I’ve known a little bit or don’t know at all … you get to meet so many great people.
Donald, you have a soft spot for Lou Ferrigno, and it seems that the guys on his team are just really are gunning for him to be fired. Is there something behind the scenes that’s going on that we don’t know?
Trump: Yeah, go ahead, Paul. Why don’t you do it first? It’s a good question, actually.
Teutul: Lou’s a lovable guy, you know what I mean? And who could not like him? Everybody has a great deal of respect for him. And thus far, maybe he’s just having a hard time with the tasks that we’ve been doing, and it may show up later.
Trump: From my standpoint, I can tell you this: Lou has been wanting to get on this show for three seasons. He has called me incessantly, “Please put me on the show.” And for a lot of different reasons, including the fact that we turned down so many people, we just couldn’t put him on the show yet. It just didn’t work out. But he’s wanted to be on so badly and he’s so intense and he tries so hard.
And I think that actually hurts him, because he tries so hard that it actually turns off Paul and other people. But from my standpoint, I know how hard he worked to be on this [show]. He just wanted to be on so badly. And I remember that … we are humans and it is hard to forget that, but I think he’s doing a great job. I think he’s a real character, but his intensity and his wanting to win is so intense that I think it actually hurts him.
Did you think long and hard about firing two people in the same episode?
Trump: I did, but as you know, this is the largest cast we’ve ever had. We have 18 people, and we have 15 [episodes]. So at some point, we had to fire two people [in one episode], and this just seemed like the appropriate time. So it’s just one of those things.
And they’re both good people, but I really had to do it at some point, because, again, it’s the largest “Apprentice” we’ve had because we have 18 in the cast … And because of the ratings, we have 15 episodes. We’ve never had 15. I think the largest we’ve ever had was 12 or 13, and this season we have 15, so it’s the biggest one we’ve done and at some point I had to fire two just logistically.
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