Omarosa Spills the Beans on Celebrity Apprentice
But for some reason, Omarosa Manigault Stallworth and I seem to get along.
We bonded a while ago when she saw my public comments on Survivor's decision to segregate team members by race a few cycles ago; she emailed with some pretty pointed observations on Survivor creator Mark Burnett, who also created the Apprentice, and a friendship was born.
So when I heard the divine Ms. O was signing up for the Celebrity edition of The Apprentice, which debuts on NBC at 9 tonight, I had to ding her Facebook page to ask a pressing question: Why in the world is she going back on a show which made her look so bad the first time around?
“Either I’m extremely brilliant or completely insane -- you be the judge," she said, reached at her office in Washington D.C. "I was out on the golf course and my phone rang. I have a private line which shows who's calling and it’s Donald Trump. He says 'hey kiddo, we’re doing Celebrity Apprentice and you’re my first phone call.' We went through a whole discussion. Like everybody else, I thought the show was canceled. I was a little taken aback by his phone call. So I took a little time to think about it. Mr. Trump does not want to take no for an answer - he took my decision to step away from the call as non-interest. So he kept pressing me for an answer." Omarosa joins Simmons, TRACE ADKINS , CAROL ALT , STEPHEN BALDWIN, NADIA COMANECI, TIFFANY FALLON, JENNIE FINCH, NELY GALÃN, MARILU HENNER, LENNOX LEWIS, PIERS MORGAN, TITO ORTIZ and VINCENT PASTORE tonight.
Do you feel the show treated you fairly last time? “I would never use the word fair. It’s reality TV. It’s a game show a very unique format. We were all kind of trailblazers and trying to figure it out on our own. I was not familiar with how reality TV had become so successful – it’s become so successful because of its post-production (editing). I’ve always talked very candidly about how shocked I was by the effects of editing. I was taken aback by the difference between the show that was presented and the wonderful experience I had. It’s look like I’m this isolated person who didn’t have any fun, didn’t have a good time. I’m always reluctant to use the word editing, because for people that’s a cop-out.”
Does race matter on these shows? “There’s this undertone that’s very tough to describe. You feel something and you know something’s in the air. If you do articulate it, you’re accused of playing the race card. It’s tough. On this season, you couldn’t get two more different black folks than (boxer Lennox Lewis) and me. I’m from the projects, and Lennox has that british accent.”
How did the experience compare to what you experienced in the first season? “The producers sent my competitors' first season DVDs. Only two of them had ever seen the show. That’s like Lennox Lewis going in the ring with someone who had a chance to see all of his practice matches. I have to change up –I have to change my strategy. I walked in with the biggest disadvantage – I didn’t have any DVDs to study (in her first go-round). I knew that I had to play a different game."
What did you do? "I had to go back to the fundamentals of business. I knew I had to make some alliances, which I didn’t do in the first season. I had to disarm them with my charm. Not all of them—these are 13 people who are used to being told yes, always getting their way, always being placated to. I knew they wouldn't know how to deal with being told no. I know how wonderfully moody Donald Trump is, and how easily annoyed he was by stupidity."
Who was particularly problematic? “Gene Simmons – he turned out to be such an idiot. I can’t disclose anything about the show. Everybody’s thinks Gene Simmons is such a great businessman. I was so underwhelmed by his business acumen, I almost fell asleep while talking to him. In the first season, we weren’t allowed the interact with each other before that first boardroom (ejection). This time, I took advantage of the fact that we came in few days early. I had an opportunity to talk with every one of them before the cameras were rolling. I had a few questions I would use to assess someone’s character or integrity. Those who have a huge ego, they are the most vulnerable.”
How did the other contestants work out? “A lot of these people had very close relationships with Trump over the years. Lennox has known Trump for years, Carol Alt has known Trump for years, Gene Simmons has known Trump for years. There were pre-existing relationships there – I’m not really sure how he got them to participate. I do know there were people who dropped out as close to a week and a half before the show started. There were other people rumored on the show – many of them backed out at the last minute. Which is why some of the press reports turned out to be wrong.”
Why about folks who say you're at the end of your 15 minutes of fame? “I think that’s so cute when people say that about 15 minutes. I taped The Apprentice in 2o03. How do we measure this concept of 15 minutes? I have 15 minutes every hour. I’m not your average bear. There are people who have been on reality shows, and you never see them again. It takes a lot to stay hot in this business. Americans are very fickle. They get tired of you. The first thing I did was I recognized that I was cast as the villain. Instead of crumbling under that, I embraced the character.The villains are sexy and fun to watch. I cultivated it, there were times I exaggerated it. The only thing that I let the public see was the naughty girl antics."
How is the celebrity version different? “Everybody’s jockeying for position and everyone is trying to show they’re more famous than the next man. I’m just sitting back...I don’t really get caught up in the illusion that is fame. Those aren’t things I concern myself with. There’s a difference between utilizing your celebrity and being caught up in this concept that is fame. Fame is fleeting. Britney spears is the best example – she’s truly subscribed to this concept that is fame...People who have been in the business for a very long time are very savvy; they know what to do to generate buzz. People want you for being psychotic. These behaviors are rewarded by gift bags and appearances at award shows. The louder and crazier you are, the more you get invited back.”
Was Trump different? “He was a little different on the show and that was surprising to me. I didn’t think he would be concerned about relationships after the show, but I think he was thinking: 'Hey – I’m going to have to work with these people after the show’s over.' (But) I’m so proud of how I handled what I did. Who gets a once in a lifetime opportunity twice? There were celebrities who were begging to get on this show and I got a change to do it twice. And I don’t take that for granted."