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Donald Trump on The Celebrity Apprentice

Published January 8, 2008 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
Donald Trump Donald Trump
Technically, The Apprentice is already The Celebrity Apprentice because there are few stars more well known than Donald Trump. However, The Celebrity Apprentice makes stars the competitors. The likes of Gene Simmons, Lennix Lewis and others are already champions in their field, but they still wanted to prove themselves to The Donald..

Celebrities Join The Apprentice


"I think because the show’s been so successful that they wanted to be on it in some cases," said Trump. "That’s what surprised me most, that people that have been heavyweight champions of the world and really successful people like KISS and Marilu [Henner] with her great success on television, that they were almost more competitive than young kids starting out with great educations, more vicious. There were no games. I thought there would be. I thought there’d be joking around which would not have been good, actually, but I thought that might be the result. I was saying at least 50/50. It was just the opposite. They wanted to win. When you think about it, they have a big reputation or a big brand to protect. And that’s what happened."

Without spoiling the show, Trump previewed some such vicious surprises. "Gene made a very tough decision and a decision that maybe wasn’t, in terms of survival, the greatest decision. In terms of other things, was a brilliantly-made decision, and in terms of morality. You know, he’s a very straight shooter and that’s one of the things you’re going to find out about Gene, as an example, on The Apprentice. He really made some tough decisions, but they were very honorable decisions. In other words, he was true to himself."



The faces may have chanced, but The Celebrity Apprentice still follows the same rules as the general show. There are only a few tweaks. "We don’t do the little rewards at the end where you’ll go for a dinner or you’ll get jewelry from Harry Winston, or you’ll do this or that. We didn’t do that because frankly I never found it that interesting where the cameras would follow them to a reward dinner or something. We don’t do that. We do something that’s really interesting and I assume I can say it and if I can’t, who cares, I’ll say it anyway. During the firing and the grilling, the team that wins goes into another room. We’ll call it the War Room and they watch. The cameras are on them as they’re watching. That’s far more fascinating than having that team go out and go to dinner. So we’re having them watch almost up to the firing, not the firing itself, but almost up to the firing and getting the reaction. And it’s an amazing reaction."

In its seventh year, it may have been time to change the formula, but Trump doesn't mess with success. "You don’t want to change too much of the formula because it’s been so successful and it’s got the highest demographic. It’s done really well. You want to make little changes, but you don’t want to change too much. We made some little changes actually. I think that the best change of all is the boardroom is going to be much longer than in the past because that’s what everybody liked. Even if you looked at the tracking, the boardrooms always drew the highest score. They do live together. It’s not a total focus like it was in the past to living together. The boardroom becomes more of a focus than it’s ever been, which is what people like."

The Celebrity Apprentice premieres Thursday on NBC.


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Fred Topel
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