NBC's hit reality show Celebrity Apprentice is still running strong, airing on Sunday nights at 9 PM ET and this past Sunday night, the latest celebrity to be fired by Donald Trump was Maria Kanellis. The former WWE Diva recently held a conference call to discuss her appearance on the show and here's what she had to say.
It was so enjoyable to watch your run on the show and I - my question for you is, how awkward was it when you found out that you had to work with Curtis, you know, in this last episode after you had been fired, after that remark in the board room?
Maria Kanellis: It was awkward for a little while, and then we got over it. We just really wanted to get down to task and help Holly out as much as possible, but it was a bit awkward when we first started.
And now are you and Curtis best friends?
Maria Kanellis: Not best friends, but we're working our differences out.
Maria, obviously, you know most of us are used to seeing you playing a character on television, and you know even though this is a reality series, obviously we got to see more of the real Maria. Was that kind of something that you wanted to achieve, what sort of was the motive for you to take part in this series?
Maria Kanellis: Well, the first thing was just doing stuff for charity. I've always like Make a Wish Foundation, so to be able to work for them was great. And I did make a bit of money for them, not as much as I would have like, but I did make a bit of money for them. But, it was also nice to start showing that side of me that, you know, is me and is the real me. And I'm quirky and weird at times, but you know - and also I grew up where it was a very hard working family. So, doing the manual labor was so much easier than some of the other stuff, so I was happy for that.
And now obviously we just are starting to see the beginning of the final task. What can you tell us about what we're going to see on Sunday? What sort of hints can you tell us about how things came together for your team?
Maria Kanellis: Oh, gosh. It's like ripping your hair out because it's just - there's so much to do, so you're going to see that frustration.
I wanted to know, how did you feel about - or how did you feel about all the comments that you were too young to know certain things? Like Sharon kept saying stuff like that about you all the time.
Maria Kanellis: Yeah, there was a bunch of them and there was more when I watched it back of course. I'm not in the interviews to see exactly what they're saying. I've never been one to hurt my feelings when anybody says anything, but at the same time, the youths come in with fresh ideas, and there are ones that have a few more years on Earth, they bring experience. And I haven't had as much of experience on this planet as others had on the team, but that doesn't mean I can't bring great fresh ideas, so it frustrated me in a lot of ways. And a lot of young people have actually came up to me and said that as well, that it frustrated them because, you know, we're just beginning. We're just starting our adventure and sure we're going to mess up a million times. But at the same time, there's something to say about being enthusiastic.
True. I also wanted to know, what was the biggest surprise for you on the show? Like what did you go in expecting and what kind of threw you for a loop?
Maria Kanellis: I really thought that it was going to be like 9 am until 5 o'clock at night, you know, a normal work day, but it was like from 4 o'clock in the morning getting hair and makeup done to working until midnight. I have never been so tired in my entire life. We worked six days a week from four in the morning until midnight every day and it was exhausting.
I wanted to talk a little bit about Bret. What are some qualities that you think - you discovered about him that - and why is he in the final two?
Maria Kanellis: Yeah, with Bret I came in thinking, you know, coming off of Rock of Love and all that kind of stuff, I had a completely different opinion of him. But, when I actually got to work with him and be around him, he's a really nice guy. He's a great guy with tremendous ideas and I was thoroughly impressed by him the entire show.
And do you think he'll pull it out and win, or do you think that - are you pulling for - who do you think will win?
Maria Kanellis: I'm torn right now, you know, I'm very torn because I think Bret's a great guy and I understand his charity and I think it's a great thing that he's doing. Plus, he's got such an inspirational story being in a rock band and being a rocker, and also having diabetes; that just doesn't compute. But also, with Holly I'm on her team, and then I'm' also - you know, I've got a cousin with autism, so I can see her trials. So, I'm torn. I - and I can't say. I have no idea.
Do you think that Bret's condition will play into whether or not he wins or loses? Like do you think that weigh in because - that he's coming back after such a period for a hemorrhage?
Maria Kanellis: No. I think Trump - I mean, it's unfortunate, you know, what happened with him and, you know, we're so happy that he's getting better. But at the same time, Trump is pretty much a guy that, you know, he sees what's in a task and that's it. He doesn't see celebrity or he doesn't see, you know, "Oh, well that's a - that's this or that." He sees what you do on task and how much of a hard worker you are, and what great ideas you have. That's going to be the only thing Trump looks at.
So you obviously worked really hard the whole time on Celebrity Apprentice and everything, were you upset at all at the way you were fired? Was it kind of a letdown because it just seemed so abrupt?
Maria Kanellis: It was. It was big time a letdown. I - you know, people make comments all the time in the board room, that it - don't belong in a work environment or - you know, but we just like to have fun in there, because that's not our full-time job. We're there. We're working for charity, but it's not our full-time job. So, some of the comments I've heard in the past in the boardroom had been 100 times worse than what I said. And so, I was a bit surprised. It was supposed to be a joke, but it didn't turn out that way. People have different senses of humor. And so, I was very upset. I was crying. I was just - I was mad, you know a whole slew of emotions.
Yeah, I was going to ask you. I mean, it seems like a lot of other things are - were said in there that did kind of, you know, top whatever you said, you know?
Maria Kanellis: Oh, yeah. Like I remember some of the names that were in the last Apprentice, people calling each other, and I didn't think that belonged at all. I don't think you have to call people names to get across what you really think or feel. You know, I just stated a fact of why I didn't like a guy. And I think most women did kind of, you know, feel a - would feel the same, you know? But at the same time, you know, it is what it is, it happened, and you can't really get upset about it. It's Trump's boardroom, you know?
Do you think that you ruined, you know, Curtis's studly image with the ladies, or anything like that?
Maria Kanellis: Well, Curtis ruined his studly image for me anyways, because he's - I can't stand a hot man that's arrogant, you know? I just - I can't. He does great things for people and we've actually made from then, but I think it's just his Australian accent sometimes that I'm like, "Where are you going?" It's like it's pompous and arrogant, you know? But (unintelligible)...
Yeah, just the accent, that comes over arrogant.
Maria Kanellis: Yeah, exactly. I think it's totally his accent.
Well, I'm going to go back a little bit to what was probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV, the 24 Hour Fitness challenge. Was working with Bret and Sharon on that as entertaining as it looked?
Maria Kanellis: Oh, my gosh. I - when I was watching it back I was laughing. It was hilarious. And there was probably like two hours more of us just like doing the Tour Bus Thrust or doing different moves. And it was just - it was hilarious because as soon as we came up with that idea, like the cast had so much more fun.
Yeah. I mean, you guys didn't win the task obviously, but it looks like you had a lot more fun. Well...
Maria Kanellis: Well, we did win the $24,000 (at some) 24 Hour Fitness, so we did have a good product, we just couldn't compete with - Holly is just, oh my gosh, it's amazing how much...
Maria Kanellis: Oh, yeah. She is. She is a machine.
Well, moving on to your elimination then, I mean do you feel like some of the other people started to throw you under the bus, and then when that whole comment thing, Trump just decided, "Well, these people are already saying they want her out, might as well just fire her."
Maria Kanellis: Yeah, I do think that. I mean - and I think I was an easy target because you can easily say, "Oh, well she's younger than everybody so she doesn't have as much experience." That's an easy way out, you know? It's like if you got to throw someone out, you throw out whoever's the easiest, because people can identify with that. But in all honestly, I don't think I was the weakest player at all. I worked hard. I had great ideas. I do have a lot of experience. I have what, like almost 12 years experience between modeling and entertainment. So it's like, I do have a few years of experience. Not as many as others, but it's not like I'm coming in like fresh off the boat or something, you know? I have done it for a while now, so I was an easy target, you know?
I mean, you were undefeated as project manager and want to know, do you think you should have stepped up at some other point and tried a new - another task?
Maria Kanellis: I would have liked to, but there was different - you know, there was different reasons that I did or didn't step up as project manager. One was because Sharon hadn't won any money for a charity yet, and I definitely felt like, you know, she really wanted to win money for her charity. So I remember thinking, "I really want this one," but at the same time it's hard when, you know, someone who's had colon cancer is trying to make money for a charity. And so, I was looking at it as that as well. And then, you know, Bret steps up on the jingle and he's had how many years experience in the music industry? I mean, I'm just starting in the music industry, but it would be unintelligent for me to take a task like that.
Was there any advice that Trump gave you that you're planning on keeping with you?
Maria Kanellis: Oh, constantly. You know, all the time. He always was saying, you know, how much of a hard worker he is and that's why he expects so much from his employees. And I learned that when I worked with (unintelligible) too. You have to be a very hard worker, as leader in order get your employees or the people that are underneath you to listen, and to actually work just as hard for you. And so, I'll keep that with that me.
And who do you plan on keeping in touch with from the show?
Maria Kanellis: I've kept in touch with Holly and I end up doing so much stuff with Curtis and every time I was like, "Oh, I want to punch him." But, I end up doing a lot of work with Curtis, and I'm sure I'll keep in touch with him. Bret, we're kind of - we text here and there, but of course I haven't really talked to him that much in the last couple months. But I'm sure, you know, it's going to be one of those - and I text him and there and just kind of keep in touch. Sharon actually, got - like she must have pocket-dialed me one day and I said, "What the heck." It was the funniest thing. It was like 4 o'clock in the morning and I'm getting a call from Sharon Osbourne. I'm like how weird is my life? But it was a total pocket-dial.
My first question is now that you've done the Celebrity Apprentice and saw the business side of everything, would you consider going into business for yourself?
Maria Kanellis: I actually have my own business. I'm working on starting my own production company right now and I'm also - I've been working on a clothing line for a long time that consists of dresses and also hair pieces. So, I've been working on that for probably the last two or three years, so eventually it'll come out in stores. I just have to find the right combination and the right amount of time.
Okay. And what was the most important thing you learned from Mr. Trump during this experience?
Maria Kanellis: I was just saying that learned from Mr. Trump that you have to be a very hard working leader in order to get everyone else to kind of work just as hard. But the other thing I learned too was in working with people, no matter who the boss is, you also have to remember that sometimes the boss is so focused on getting it done that they can't see the creativity within. So whoever your boss is, you also have to make comment and have ideas so that you can push along this process and push along the tasks, whatever it is.
Maria, I just wanted to follow-up on what you said a minute ago. You talked about some of the things that you're planning to do off-camera, do you have any sort of on-camera plans that you're pursuing?
Maria Kanellis: Yeah. I'm working on getting my show picked up right now. I'm starting a rock band and so I want to show that to the world and the trials and tribulations of finding a band, and finding a band that works together, so there's that. I also have my CD that just came out on iTunes in April, so it's a four-song EP, it's rock music, (unintelligible) lyrics, all kinds of fun, and I'm the lead singer on it. So - it's called Seven Sins and it's my baby, so I plan on going out on tour with that end of the summer, beginning of the fall. So I'm going to be doing that as well, alongside some new music as well. But yeah, I definitely want to do more on-camera stuff and auditioning all the time for movies and things such as that, too.
Celebrity Apprentice airs on Sunday nights at 9 PM ET on NBC.