Donald Trump and Bret Michaels talk about the new season of the show
Donald Trump and his reality series Celebrity Apprentice returns with a brand new season filled with new celebrity contestants such as Darryl Strawberry, Cyndi Lauper, Bret Michaels, Sharon Osbourne, Michael Johnson, Holly Robinson Peete, Bill Goldberg, Carol Leifer, Sinbad, Summer Sanders, Rod Blagojevich, Maria Kanellis, Curtis Stone and Selita Ebanks. This brand new season of the show premieres on Sunday, March 14 with a two-hour premiere starting at 9 PM ET on NBC. Trump recently held a conference call with one of this year's contestants, Bret Michaels, and here's what they both had to say about this new season.
Donald it's a great cast, I love the cast. Tell us a little bit about the selection process.
Donald Trump: Well it's very interesting, because so many people want to be now on the show. You know, after the first success and then the Joan Rivers success of those two shows they - just celebrities want to be on the show. So I would say probably six or seven people per spot we were turning down. And we just - we thought it was a really -- we wanted some athletes, we wanted some actors, actresses, we have models, we have wrestlers, we have a beautiful wrestler and a big wrestler, Goldberg and Maria - Maria is a beautiful woman who's a wrestler with the WWE and their big star. So, you know, it's really - it's been a very interesting process. But the hardest thing - because we really have some good people that want to go on very badly and I guess maybe we'll save them for the next show because it looks like that's going to happen.
Bret, tell us, you know, obviously whether you won the show, whether you lost in the first week, at some point obviously you were in the boardroom; what was that experience like for you?
Bret Michaels: Well the boardroom is exactly what I thought it would be like, it's very intense in there. You go in - again and I want to say this, I was very excited first of all to be on the show. And for me being a diabetic myself and having, you know, lifelong diabetes it was intense in there. I went in to fight for my charity and very personal for me. And when I went in there it was exactly how I saw the other two seasons, very intense.
I just would like to know how is this season going to be different than past seasons. Are you going to do anything to change it up a bit?
Donald Trump: Well again we have, you know, we've had such a success and, you know, frankly when you have a success you don't like to do too many changes. And what we do have is there has been a different tone. Now as you know everything has not been shot so I can't tell you how it ends, I don't know myself how it's going to end and of course we're going to have a two or three hour live finale. But the cast has been very interesting. They've been very tough, very nasty but there's also a lot of fun and funniness with respect to what happens which I don't think we had in the last one with Joan as an example and with Piers. It was really nasty people really hating each other. These people hate each other but it's also funny; there's something funny about it that I didn't have in the first two so I think that might be the biggest differentiation in terms of, you know, the three casts.
Donald, can you kind of tell off the bat who is going to do well and who isn't? Do you have any kind of gut feeling when you just first meet these people?
Donald Trump: Well that's always to me the most interesting question because I'd like to think of myself as being okay with people. But so often I'll say this one is going to be a star, let's say Bret, he's going to be a star; he's going to be great. And then he turns out to be a dud. I'm not saying that happened and frankly it didn't happen, okay. But you never really know. I mean, oftentimes you'll see somebody and you'll say oh this person's going to do great especially with the celebrity because you've known these celebrities at least, you know, through reading about them for so many years. And a lot of times you're really disappointed and a lot of times somebody that is not really - that you don't think of so highly turns out to be a star. So it's very, very tough. You don't know what happens and, you know, with pressure and the heat of battle you just don't know what happens. So I'll have a preconceived notion, yes, always. A lot of times that turns out to be not necessarily correct.
Bret, what was your strategy going into the game assuming you had one?
Bret Michaels: There was absolutely in my mind - I thought I had a strategy and this was it. I knew that I - again and I go back to this being lifelong diabetic I went in there with one intent and that was to win. And when I went in there with that attitude I know one thing that I felt was extremely important for me was to deliver myself to each task. And what I found is I thought there was going to be some quitters. You know, when I watched the other two seasons I immediately felt that I knew who was going to walk off the show or not last. And most of it turned out to be true, right. On this one there was no quitters and I think that's what made this coming season the most intense because no one was giving up the battle.
I just wanted to ask you about Goldberg, what was he like? He's a Georgia man.
Donald Trump: Well he was - first of all he's very capable. And he's a very tough guy; he's not easy to get along with that I can tell you. And he's - I don't mean just tough physically he's tough in a lot of other ways. And he was - I have a lot of respect for him but he's a very difficult kind of a guy.
And was he tough in the boardroom too? I mean...
Donald Trump: Yes he was tough. He's a tough guy. He's a tough cookie but physically and mentally. He's strong, he's very strong.
You don't get intimidated much do you Mr. Trump?
Donald Trump: No I don't. You know, look I know - I understand life and hey we're here for a certain period of time and that's the end. What's to be intimidated about? But Goldberg is certainly a guy that can intimidate people. And I think, Bret, you would agree with that right?
Bret Michaels: I would agree 1000%. And here's the thing about - we talk about Goldberg, he's menacing to be around first of all. He's a very extremely, extremely intense guy and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. And he's a fighter, I mean, when he has a - but he also when he goes after something he really goes after it and there's no - if you're in his way you get run down. And, you know, you get run over and at the same time I had to put out of my mind that I like him and respect him as a wrestler and enjoy watching him but I'm also going up against him to win and that's what made it intense because he is big and physically, you know, there's some times I'm going to be straight honest that we loved each other and hated each other and went head to head and I just knew I could outrun him that's what mattered. I may not beat him in a fight but I knew I could out run him. And so - but I didn't back down. We both went at it but in the end, you know, the bottom line is we both wanted to win.
Mr. Trump I was wondering now that it's Season 3 of the show what can these celebrities do to really set themselves apart and show them, you know, show you that they're in it to win it?
Donald Trump: Well they really are in it to win it, that's one thing I've seen and I could tell you from Seasons 1, 2 and from the regular Apprentice, I mean, people really want to win. Every once in a while you'll have a quitter but it doesn't happen often. And I think the reason that they do and even setting apart is the level of intensity they feel for their charity. You know, unlike regular Apprentice where somebody worked for me for a pretty good salary for a year this one is - the money goes to charity. And last year millions of dollars was raised for charity. And I could tell you this year more money is being raised for charity than even last year. So a lot of charities - in Bret's case he's very strong for his charity as he's already told you. But everybody really has a charity that they love. Some are foundations that they've set up themselves in advance - long advance of the show, they've been with them for years. So they really fight, the intensity is there. And I think maybe more so because of the fact that it is a charity that they're fighting for.
Mr. Michaels, you're incredibly well-spoken, you're very focused, you don't come across as the prototypical rocker, you know, like someone like a Tommy Lee or even like a Dennis Rodman who has this kind of faux rocker persona even though he's a sports figure. I was wondering if you could talk about your background and just some of the things that have made you who are in your career, I mean, you're decidedly different than a lot of rockers that I've come across.
Bret Michaels: Well first of all thank you. And I want to say this, I thank - first of all I've got to start by thanking my parents. I grew up in a very blue collar family. We grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And you know what for me I think what has been my blessing through all this - I went in there knowing first of all when you say prosecuting attorney that will be the understatement of the year because I've got to tell you something I never sweated as much as I do in that boardroom. So first of all you got to up your game. And when you say that I think what it is for a lot of people - what you see with me is exactly what you get. And I think a lot of times people try to overly act out the rockstar thing or try to be what they think people want them to be. And I think what makes a real rockstar, what makes a real original person, is being exactly who and what you are and not trying to act out any other persona.
Donald Trump: And I can just add that, you know, I won't say if Bret lasts, how long he lasts or anything else but he was also very different than I thought. He's a tough, tough cookie. And I was a little surprised by it. He was really strong and very, very smart. With all that he may have been fired very early on because a lot of smart strong people make mistakes. And when you make mistakes you get fired. But he turned out to be very good, excellent.
Mr. Trump even after all these years do you ever feel bad about firing someone or just part of the job?
Donald Trump: I always feel bad - no, not always, sometimes somebody, you know, not everybody do I like. And sometimes I don't like people. And, you know, it doesn't bother me. The hard ones are when you really like somebody, really respect somebody and they make a mistake. Like as an example Scott Hamilton, how can you not like Scott Hamilton from the last season? And I had to let Scott go. And I'm a great fan of Scott, he won Olympic gold medals, he's a, you know, great champion and everything else. And he understood he made a mistake on the show and I really had no choice. And I felt very badly about that because I considered him to be just a great person and I still do. But I have to do what's right. And there are many other examples, you know, I fire people that win gold medals, great champions, everything else, and, you know, it's not - it's not easy. People say oh well it comes easy for me, it doesn't. And it's never fun. It's all to easier though when I don't like somebody or when they're really, really bad then it becomes much easier.
Mr. Trump you had talked a little bit earlier about how maybe somebody you expects to be a rock didn't come quite - maybe surprised this time around. You know, somebody that stands out obviously is Sharon Osbourne, she seems very tenacious, she's got a lot of show business experience. You know, is she the front runner you think going into this season? And, you know, maybe talk about any kind of advantage she has over the competition.
Donald Trump: Well she's very smart, she's very strong, very strong-minded and willed. You see what she did with Ozzy because Ozzy is a great talent in terms of music but I guarantee he wouldn't have been where he is today without Sharon and he understands that better than anybody. So she's obviously a great character on the show. You know, beyond that I can't talk too much because I can't tell you how she does obviously. But she has been a great character on the show there's no question about it.
Bret, what is the future of your other show, Rock of Love? Do you want to keep doing that? Is that something that interests you?
Bret Michaels: Yes, I'll tell you it's funny you would ask that because I had a great time - an absolute great time doing Rock of Love, had a lot of fun. And I'll say this though I was really excited about being on Celebrity Apprentice. The show that - there's also another side and I think that the reason so many people tune into this show is really simple, it feels like every person if you're on this show you feel like you're in it, you're living it, you've got a chance to look at these tasks and do them. And when I watched the other two seasons of Celebrity Apprentice for me those seasons I felt like this, you know, I would do this, why did they do that? And I think - and I use it just as a - and I'm saying this just as an outsider watching TV, when you go in there you deliver yourself to it. And I think that with Rock of Love what I, you know, obviously the show, I loved doing it, it was very, very - it was the number one show for VH1 three years in a row. So it was a great opportunity for me but it really helped me to forget that there was anything around me, any cameras, anything and I just delivered myself to the project.
Mr. Trump you mentioned something about how this season although everyone worked incredibly hard and were very intense there was also a sense of fun that you got. Can you point to any of the contestants in particular that you think delivered this sense of fun?
Donald Trump: Well I think Bret is a good example. He was, you know, he was very intense. Also, you know, he was roughed up pretty much by Goldberg and some others but he handled it incredibly well. But there was a lot of funniness. It was rough but it was funny. Actually somebody from NBC that reviewed a number of the shows said, you know, the interesting part about this show is that there's tremendous, you know, the juices are flowing and everything else but it's really funny. And honestly the other ones were mean, they weren't funny. This one's mean too, it's got a lot of meanness in it but it's also very funny. So that'll be interesting to see, I mean, frankly the mean always seems to work the best so I'm speaking against myself a little bit because the mean always seems to work the best. And, you know, like when people ask me - a lot of times I'll get somebody where there's a bar mitzvah or there's a wedding and - friends of mine or people I know would you do me a favor would you fire us because we're showing it. They never want to be hired they always want to be fired. And it's almost like the firings that are the meanest, if you look back on the Apprentice those are the ones that everyone likes the best, I mean, the really nasty firings. And, you know, you can't do that like, you know, certain people that I've mentioned previously you can't fire them too rough otherwise you look like an idiot. But the mean firings are - this show is - it's got a lot of meanness but it's got a lot of funniness to. So it'll be interesting for me to see how that plays.
Bret, you had mentioned a little bit about how you had enjoyed doing Rock of Love and how would it feel going from this intense environment back to that show?
Bret Michaels: You know what, honestly, I would have a lot of fun - let me say this - and I just wanted to add something to the other one, I think on this one too because I was in there for the amount of time I was on the show there was a sense of really having fun and getting it done. And one thing that Mr. Trump said is true I was really shocked because I go in there to say how are you doing and I try to respect the people I'm going in there not only to like but I've got to go up against them right? And we had this sense of having fun but getting it done. But let me tell you this show this year I will tell you this hands down runs much more a gamut of emotions. I mean, things that happen, things that went down in the amount of time that I spent there were - I can say this truly insane, sometimes funny, sometimes extremely painful. And when I say painful I mean emotionally painful. And it ran a bigger gamut of emotions. And I think for me to go back to doing a Rock of Love is a lot of fun, I mean, it's basically drinking and dating, it can't be that hard. And it's so, you know, sucking face and debauchery is not - I've, you know, that's the way it is. But I think the one thing for me is the harder I work the luckier I got, right? And that's been my motto. And for me there's a reason you survived 20 years in the music business and it's not just by getting lucky for 20 years in a row. And so like I said to go back to Rock of Love would be a lot fun but I was completely honored to be on this show and allowed to show that I have another side to me.
Donald Trump: Well this show will helps his other show a lot because he does come on - in the time that he's on the show he does come off, I mean, really good. I think this will have a huge, you know, because this is obviously a much bigger audience. And this will have a huge impact on his other show. So, Bret, I want 10% okay? Whatever you do on that show I want at least 10%. I'm only kidding.
Bret Michaels: He's not kidding.
Mr. Trump I'm wondering, you know, you do all kinds of challenges on this show, that's the best part of the show. What are your favorite challenges to kind of watch the celebrities tackle? What are, you know, true tests of character in your opinion?
Donald Trump: Well we do have a lot of different challenges and we have a lot of different sponsors. And then sometimes we go back to the selling of the lemonade just to have it, you know, we turn down a lot of sponsors because actually NBC Mark Burnett and myself, you know, we like the basics so whether it's selling lemonade or doing something else very basic without having to deal with Proctor & Gamble or Kodak, etcetera, sometimes is sort of interesting, expensive for us to do that but that's okay. So many of the challenges, I mean, I find that - and it would seem that the rating also find that the favorite part of the show by far is the boardroom. And the boardroom has gotten longer over the years because of that. I mean, the challenges have plenty of time. But the boardroom has gotten, you know, it's been inching up because it just seems that what people like the most about the show is the boardroom. And so, you know, we're focused on both aspects but we have been trying to lengthen the boardroom. And that's because of viewer requests very strongly.
Earlier you were talking a little bit about, you know, you're fired line. After all these years the line has not faltered, it's still strong, it's still a highlight of the show. How do you keep your phrase strong? How do you keep saying it so people love it?
Donald Trump: It turned out to be a good phrase. You know, it was a fluke. I don't know if anyone knows the story but the first show I was a little exasperated with one of the contestants and I used the line you're fired. When Mark Burnett and I agreed to do the show we didn't have that, you know, we thought we'd say, you know, get the hell out of here or do something right? But it was sort of a fluke that it happened. And it's hard to really envision that but it was You're Fired. And all of a sudden America went crazy over the show. It happens to be a great catch word. And then as you know TV Guide or one of the major magazines actually they did a poll and after Here's Johnny and one other great it was number three on the top 100 phrases in television history. So that was a pretty big honor. I didn't realize that. But it was, you know, it's been an amazing thing and an amazing phrase. It just seems to work, I mean, for some reason it was used in the first show and it started people. And it really caught on and it's just been, you know, an amazing thing to watch.
Mr. Trump I was wondering now that you and Bret have spent some time together and having come from very different backgrounds is there anything you were surprised to find that you have in common?
Donald Trump: Well, you know, I'll tell you a terrible story. Years and years ago my parents had a lot of problems with me because I was rather rebellious like Bret. And they sent me to an institute; I think it was called the Johnson Institute. And it was an aptitude institute to learn what you do the best right? So Bret will be shocked to hear this. I was like seven or eight. And they gave, you know, aptitude tests. And they would do things like play a note on the piano and then five minutes later play five different notes and which note matched up to the first note, things like that okay? So the thing that my aptitude was the highest at which floored my father, he couldn't believe it, was music, okay. See that Bret?
Bret Michaels: That's awesome.
Donald Trump: It was music, yes. My highest aptitude was music. So I was floored by it but my father was totally floored by it, I'm not sure he was thrilled either if you want to know the truth. So I guess that's something we might have in common.
Bret Michaels: Wow.
Donald Trump: Because Bret obviously has a great aptitude for music; he's been great at what he does.
Bret Michaels: Thank you very much. And I will say this about Mr. Trump, you know what when you - the one thing as a musician that you get about people is I'd like to think I've got a good sense or sixth sense about people and I will tell this, you know, it is intense when you're around somebody and the things, you know, you don't sit there and go what do we have in common, what I looked at is you go into there and it's an admiration for where he is, where he's gotten to, what he has been through and the amount of success. And for me I think anyone goes in there and the reason, you know, you also talked about the line you're fired, you're not just getting fired alone in a room, you're walking in there with other celebrities, you're setting across - and I've set there across and heard the words you're fired, right? It - when you're hearing this from such a prominent - I'm just saying this business man, you know, that is - and know that there is so many eyeballs watching it that's what makes it intense.
Have you given yourself a time clock on how many seasons you'll go, I mean, or can you do this forever?
Donald Trump: Well, you know, it's an interesting show because it sort of is timeless in the sense that it really works currently. For instance we started doing the heavy charity stuff when charity really needed it and it was good. A lot of people like the idea of bringing back regular Apprentice because now you're talking about you'll be - this won't be for charity this will be, you know, you'll be having a job with Trump. Or we could do even a job as an example where I get them a job with somebody else that I know because I have a lot of friends and have lots of people with jobs right? So but, you know, you come back and you have a job with Trump in an area when you have 13% depending on the way to want to count it, 10% or 13% I even heard 17% unemployment. So, you know, a lot of people are looking at regular Apprentice because it really works in, maybe with a different spin than when we started when the markets were very strong. So, you know, it's, you know, the whole - it just seems to be something that as long as it continues to work meaning lots of people are watching it I like doing it, I'm enjoying it.
Mr. Trump, although Darryl Strawberry has had, you know, a lot of public battles over the years he has been a winner. Can you talk about what surprised you about Darryl?
Donald Trump: Well he has been a winner. And what surprised me is how solid he is. I said Darryl, I'm going to ruin your reputation because you - much more solid. You know, look I knew Darryl because I'm a Met fan and I'd watch the Mets and I'd watch him hit a homerun 10 feet off the ground that would go out of the stands, I mean it was amazing, you know, obviously you're a baseball fan or you wouldn't be asking this question right?
Donald Trump: And, you know, the power he had and the potential he had. And a lot of it was wasted because some of his things. But he still had a great career. I think he won four World Series for the different teams. And Darryl turned out to be a great - a great guy and a great character and a tough cookie. You know, I'm not surprised because, you know, anytime you have these world champion athletes they're not there just because of the physical they're also - there's something special. But wouldn't you say that's correct Bret, I mean, you dealt with Darryl very much, he was a teammate of yours.
Bret Michaels: Yes, I was - I'll say this about Darryl, I'm a huge baseball fan and I will say this about Darryl, when you meet him - and again knowing this from coming from the rock side of things, sometimes stuff is so overblown. I'm not saying that he didn't party and throw down. But let me tell you something he was - me and him in the amount of time, again, that I was there, he was very, very collected, calm at times. You know, I can get a little out there, no, I can get very out there. And he would reel it back in. He would keep the team right. And I've got to say something about Darryl, he was - at the end of it I will say this, became one of my very close friends now. And that's an awesome feeling because I respect him as a player. And at the same time this is what's so strange and awesome about this show all in one, you go in there respecting people and it's the strangest thing knowing in the back of your mind and in the end you're going to be in this arena fighting it out together no matter what. As much as we all might like each other in the beginning you know that all of these - everyone here wants to win. And that's - you're baiting people in this show and this year is - I'm telling you hands down, forget about the other ones, is the most intense; it runs the gamut of emotions for sure.
Mr. Trump, this is the first time I've had a chance to speak with you since the economic crisis got really bad and all these things happened. How have your businesses and yourself managed to thrive and sustain in this time?
Donald Trump: Right, we've really been - we've really done well. You know, I was lucky that during this last few years I haven't been crazy. Maybe because of the Apprentice it kept me busy enough that I didn't buy lots of real estate, okay? And we're in a very strong cash position. And I'm now buying a lot of real estate. I just bought a tremendous project in Washington - in the Washington area on the Potomac River. And it's phenomenal, 850 acres of land that I've been after for years and I got it. And I've done numerous other things over the last, you know, year or so that frankly I haven't been doing it as much. And I don't know, maybe I can attribute that to the Apprentice. Hey Bret, maybe because I've been busy with you characters you kept me out of trouble because I've been too busy to invest in lots of bad deals. Because anybody that bought, like, you know, a deal but generally speaking anybody that bought two years ago or 2-1/2 years ago is in trouble today. So we've done really well, we're very, very strong. The company is the strongest it's ever been. And we're in a big acquisition binge. I'll let you know if that works out because, you know, I'll talk to you in five years about it right? Who knows. But it seems to be the right time to buy.
Is that it though? Is it just luck that you happened to not be buying when things were - when things were about to collapse?
Donald Trump: Well I don't know if it's luck or instinct or both but there's always luck involved in things, you know, luck is involved in life; you're born a certain way, you're born in a certain location, you're born - country, you're, you know, there's always luck. And some people disagree that there's no such thing as luck, well, you know, I'll take them on anytime you want. But, you know, certain things happen that were very positive for me over the last few years in terms of business. And the business is the best it's ever been for me.
Bret, I wanted to ask you when you found out who the other celebrities on the show were who were you most excited to work with?
Bret Michaels: I'm going to say this honestly I was excited to meet everyone who was going to be on there. And here's what it was as I started to find out who everyone was everybody was so different you know what I mean that it was exciting for me. But honestly I was excited to meet Darryl Strawberry, Goldberg. You know, this for me, you know, I'm a guy who loves sports, I love watching the wrestling, I love watching baseball. That was exciting. And also, you know, you look at Sharon Osbourne, for me I have so much respect. And we've known each other obviously I've been out on the road with Ozzy, I've done stuff and, you know, we've seen each other before but not in this aspect. So those would be - I'd say Darryl and Goldberg...
Donald Trump: And maybe Cyndi Lauper for you because you've always respected what she does. And she's become so hot now because Cyndi's best friend is Lady Gaga who's the crazy hottest person out there right?
Bret Michaels: Yes.
Donald Trump: Whose show I saw recently and it was phenomenal. But Lady Gaga loves Cyndi Lauper and she's, you know, they're together all the time. And she's a big factor on the show.
Bret Michaels: Yes, Cyndi Lauper is fantastic. And you know what's great about her too, she - and Mr. Trump I don't know if you agree with me with this but just being around her in that amount of time I was there I will say this, that she is - she's beyond real. Like that's the one thing about her - and I'm going to say this, I haven't had a chance to say this about Apprentice, it is one of these shows where they - it is - when I tell you this there is no scripting, it is real. You're either there or you're not there, you're either into it or you're not into it. There's no pampering. And I've been my own boss for better or for worse since I've been 18 years old. And I will say this, there is no pampering going on. You either put yourself into it or you don't and every single star or celebrity on this show delivered it. And Cyndi was amazing and she's out there yet she's so honest with her answers it's almost painful sometimes.
Donald Trump: And she is very tough also, I mean, I'm not revealing anything.
Bret Michaels: Yes.
Donald Trump: I would have never thought of Cyndi as being like that tough. She is tough as you'll ever find. And you know the accent is very deceiving. She is so tough that it's really almost unbelievable at times. And, you know, that's a little bit different than I would have thought to be honest.
Bret, would we have the opportunity to hear any of your music on the show this season?
Bret Michaels: You know what I honestly don't know that because when we went in there it wasn't - it didn't really have anything to do with the music. It was sort of what the individual brought. I surely hope that you do. I don't know that you will.
They didn't catch you singing in the shower or anything?
Bret Michaels: They actually did but that's the first day early on. And I can tell you this what one thing I wanted to add to this the first day - the first day of this whole show kicking was extremely shocking to me because a lot of things happened, a lot of things got thrown a lot of people's way especially mine and I'm saying good, bad, indifferent. And there was some great moments and some extremely ugly moments. It came out of the box extremely strong. And that's all I can say. I can't give it away but I can tell you it was much harder and a lot more work than I ever imagined and yet one of the best experiences I've ever had.
You can watch Donald Trump and Bret Michaels along with Darryl Strawberry, Cyndi Lauper, Sharon Osbourne, Michael Johnson, Holly Robinson Peete, Bill Goldberg, Carol Leifer, Sinbad, Summer Sanders, Rod Blagojevich, Maria Kanellis, Curtis Stone and Selita Ebanks when Celebrity Apprentice premieres on Sunday, March 14 at 9 PM ET on NBC.