February 17th, 2012
04:40 PM ET
Sunday night’s fifth season premiere of “Celebrity Apprentice" will host a record number of 18 contestants, which means there's also a larger variety of cast members, from Adam Carolla and Penn Jillette to Arsenio Hall and Debbie Gibson.
The former late night talk show host and former teen pop sensation recently spoke with reporters, along with the show’s star and executive producer, Donald Trump.
After so many years of doing this, Trump reflected on what he’s learned so far. For one thing, don't judge a contestant by his or her cover.
“Sometimes you’re so amazed with some people, that you have them and you see them and you meet them, and they look great and they’re dressed sharp,” he said. “Everything’s great, and you say, ‘Oh, wow, they’re going to be fantastic.’ And they turn out to be a total dud. And then you’ll have some that you don’t really predict will do that well, and they turn out to be superstars.”
Who does Trump think would be great on the show? Easy: "Pete Rose."
But, he went on, “he hates the concept of being fired, even though I think it would be great for him. So I know he seriously thinks about it. He really wants to be on this show, but he does have a little problem with that.”
There weren’t many clues as to which "Celebrity Apprentice" cast members would turn out to be superstars, but from the conversation, it appeared that Arsenio Hall, at least, had made it pretty far.
Hall said that one of the most interesting aspects of the show is seeing celebrities taken out of their comfort zone.
For instance, when "Clay Aiken screams at somebody and says, ‘Clean those bugs out of that pot now!’" Hall said. "That’s when the show gets hard, because first of all, a person who makes all the decisions in their life...is not only being told what to do, but to do some nasty manual labor. It seems like the really tough things... made the hardest, most interesting television moments.”
Last season saw NeNe Leakes take on Dionne Warwick and LaToya Jackson, while Meatloaf had a meltdown dealing with Gary Busey.
Trump said we have more of that kind of rivalry to look forward to with at least two contestants this season: “I don’t know what it is that [comedian] Lisa [Lampanelli] had against [former Miss Universe] Dayana [Mendoza], but it was brutal.”
Debbie Gibson said that she originally hesitated on doing the show, but the chance to raise money for her charity of choice (not to mention seeing the wonders the show did for the career of fellow ‘80s pop star Cyndi Lauper) ultimately convinced her to do it.
She said that she hoped to conduct herself like last year’s runner-up, Marlee Matlin.
“I called her and her interpreter and we all had breakfast, and I just kind of picked her brain a bit. And I wanted to go on and obviously be me and be authentic, but I felt like she just was like, the least gimmicky of everybody I’d ever seen on the show.”
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