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What do you get when you put 14 celebrities in a room to play “Celebrity Apprentice” with Donald Trump? Now throw in the notorious "Omarosa,” who was fired in season one?
Well, let’s just say the hit show's seventh season isn’t going to be all tea and crumpets.
“It’s a very vicious show,” Trump told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira on Thursday with unconcealed delight. “I think it’s going to be terrific.”
In Trump’s world, viciousness is another word for good, if not entirely clean, fun. Without it, his long-running reality show, “The Apprentice,” would not be entering its seventh season tonight (9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT).
To add spice to the series, the real estate mogul assembled as eclectic a group of celebrities as one could imagine.
There’s the former front man of the rock group KISS, Gene Simmons, whom Trump describes — in a good way, of course — as a “wild man.”
There’s Jennie Finch, the apple-pie wholesome star pitcher of the U.S. Olympic Softball Team.
There’s former three-time heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis.
There’s also former Olympic star gymnastics pixie Nadia Comaneci, country singer Trace Adkins, Playmate of the Year Tiffany Fallon, “Sopranos” star Vincent “Big Pussy” Pastore, former Ultimate Fighting champion Tito Ortiz, former supermodel Carol Alt, “America’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan, actress Marilu Henner, former Telemundo president Nely Galan, actor Stephen Baldwin, and perhaps the most controversial and memorable “Apprentice” star ever, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.
All it lacks is Rosie O’Donnell, the person Trump would probably most enjoy firing.
‘Nastiest’ season yet“It wasn’t easy,” Trump said of the work that went into assembling the group. “They are celebrities. They’re wonderful people, but Gene Simmons is an example — a total wild man — and we just had a lot of fun with it. It’s really great.”
Although they’re known to the public as performers in various fields, they’re also business people, Trump pointed out. And they’ll be battling to win more than a million dollars for their various charities.
But as much as for the money, they’re competing for their names and egos.
“They’re trying to protect their image and their brand,” Trump told Vieira. “I didn’t know if this was going to work out, because, you know, you get these celebrities, then all of a sudden they say, ‘Hey, what are we doing here?’ They’re playing literally for millions of dollars for their charities. They really are protecting their brand, and in protecting their brand they become very vicious.”
Trump said some of the celebrities are totally different than he expected, especially Baldwin, the actor and born-again Christian.
“My image of Stephen was a little bit flaky,” Trump said. “The truth is, he was unbelievable on the show. I told him, you’re going to totally change your image because of ‘The Apprentice.’”
Trump described Baldwin as “steely, steady and much different than I thought. He’s not a flake, although he does have some moments.”
“Apprentice” fans will remember Manigault-Stallworth, better known by her first name, Omarosa. During a tempestuous nine weeks on the first season of the show, she became famous for her nastiness. After she was fired, Omarosa, who is black, became even better known when she accused another contestant of racism.
“She’s a troublemaker,” Trump said with what sounded like approval. “She got worse. She’s gotten nastier, if that’s possible.”
Trump said he didn’t back off because of the fame of the contestants.
“I think I’m equally as tough and in some cases tougher,” he told Vieira. “I was surprised they respected me as much as they did. I thought they’d really be hitting me hard and they didn’t.”
He predicted that that viewers hoping to see famous people behaving like cutthroats will not be disappointed.
“This is the nastiest version that we’ve done. I think it’s the most exciting,” he said.