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Interview: Donald Trump and Bret Michaels from ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

Interview: Donald Trump and Bret Michaels from ‘Celebrity Apprentice’


We had the pleasure of talking Donald Trump and Bret Michaels about the new season of Celebrity Apprentice which starts tomorrow on NBC. We chatted with them about the contestants, whether Mr. Trump really likes telling people they’re fired, and what we can look forward to this season. Check it out below!

Mr. Trump 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, Joshua, 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.

So 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.

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 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.

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.

Bret, we mentioned these strong personalities that are on the show with Goldberg and of course the amazing Sharon Osbourne, how do you think you stack up to these strong personalities?

Bret Michaels: Here’s what happens for me, when I go into these shows they are absolutely strong personalities, I know that they’re extremely smart. I know that they’re strong physically, mentally so when I go in there that makes me up my game. And I feel the reason I’ve survived 20 years in the music business is I just don’t back down to a challenge and especially when it’s that close to my heart.

And knowing that they’re smart, knowing that you’re up there in front of Mr. Trump, in front of Sharon, in front of Strawberry, in front of Goldberg, all these people it really makes you up your game. And I think that what people forget about all this is when you go in there how intense and hard of work this is.

They, you know, you go onto a show and if you don’t deliver yourself for the real fact that this is a – this is real; you are out there in the streets working hard. I forgot about anything that was going on around me other than delivering to the task. And knowing I’m going up against some smart people it made me even up my game more.

After a little hiatus how do you feel going back in the boardroom and what does it feel like for you the first time you say, “You’re fired?”

Donald Trump: Well it is a little hiatus because, you know, when we started off it became so successful that NBC decided to do three in one season including the Martha Stewart fiasco which turned out to be a fiasco unfortunately. But then it, you know, but it did very well even after all of that it continued to do well and then we did the celebrity version.

And I just have a great kick out of it, you know, I get a great kick. I really like it a lot. They want to renew it for another two or three seasons. And, you know, we’re thinking about that. But it’s been just for me it’s been a lot of fun. And having a little bit of a break between shows like American Idol where it goes on once a year, you know, there’s something very nice about it.

And as someone who also writes for the Chicago Sun Times could you talk a little bit about Blagojevich and your – why you chose him and how he’s doing so far?

Donald Trump: Well I’ll tell you, as I said about Bret, Bret really was very much different than I envisioned him; I didn’t envision him bad or good, I didn’t know what to expect. But I could tell you he turned out to be a very tough competitor. And Blagojevich likewise and Bret can maybe speak a little bit about this because he probably got to know him as well or more than me because, you know, they virtually lived together .

But it took a lot of courage, first of all before we even get to the show, it took a lot of courage under the pressure that he’s under for him to even do the show. I’ve known people over the years where they’ve had problems like he’s got and they go into a corner and they shoot themselves or they go into a corner and they just hide.

Here’s a guy doing a major, major television show for two hours primetime and, you know, even the government, you know, the government wasn’t thrilled with that whole thing. And he really displayed great courage in doing the show and as far as a player is concerned highly competitive, worked very hard, I mean, you wouldn’t know this guy was a governor or an ex-governor.

And he really worked very hard and, you know, I think he does a very good job. I won’t say how long he lasts or if he lasts but he did a very good job. What do you think Bret?

Bret Michaels: Here’s – I want to say this, in the short amount of time that I was around Rod I just want to say this, in my time spent with him I will say this he was fantastic for me, I mean, we started talking, both of our parents coming from, again blue collar background. I found him extremely nice. I thought he was down to Earth. And every time we had to do something together he was focused.

You know, when we got thrown something in the very beginning we were both – he was focused and he’s great at delegating stuff. I mean, and that’s his expertise. I think he embraced stuff. And he wasn’t – I’ll say this honestly – he was not scared to get his hands dirty which is, you know, for me again, you know, what you assume a politician to be like he dug right in and got into it. And he was – I thought he was great honestly.

Donald Trump: The amazing thing is this is going on pretty much at the same time as his trial. So…

Bret Michaels: Yes, yes.

Donald Trump: …I mean, it’s a very interesting situation I’ll tell you. And so many of the questions in all fairness to all of the other contestants who are in many ways, you know, and some really bigger names, so many of the questions really evolve around the Governor and, you know, what was he like and everything else; people are very interested.

And the fact that his trial is going to be going on almost at the same time it’s very interesting and very compelling to watch.

Do you ever – 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, Cindy.

What do you think is your biggest success, your actual business success or the fact that you raised such amazingly self sufficient children?

Donald Trump: Well I’m getting a lot of credit on the children. And Ivanka will be back and Don will be back and we’re also having some other people joining us, Erin Burnett from CNBC and some others; we have some great people on the show.

But Ivanka – everybody’s asking about Ivanka. So many people have said will she be back? Will she be back and the answer is yes, she’ll be back on the show. But, you know, I do get a lot of credit. They’re very good kids. They were – they went to very good schools, they were great students at the best schools. And, you know, they’re good.

And, you know, I couldn’t wait to get them on the show. Now I had no idea the show would be into its, you know, when you get into 9 and 10 that’s pretty amazing in your world of television. See it’s not my world it’s your world because I just entered it a few years ago.

But, you know, it’s hard to believe, while it’s not that many years it’s still, you know, you start hitting number 9 and number 10 that’s a lot of success in that sense. And, you know, people are all asking about Ivanka and she will be back on the show absolutely and even playing a bigger role than she did.

Bret, who’s the most interesting person you worked with on this show?

Bret Michaels: That is a really tough on and I’ll explain why…

Donald Trump: Well hopefully he’s going to say Mr. Trump.

Bret Michaels: That was my first answer.

Donald Trump: No I’m only kidding.

Bret Michaels: The – and the truth of the matter is when you go in there – let me just start with this, the truth of the matter is when I went in here and started to know who was going to be on the show and you know you’re going to go in there and face Sharon Osbourne and you’re going to face Darryl Strawberry and you’re going to go in there with people that are, you know, athletes and other, you know, musicians and people that are strong business-minded successful people you really know that you’ve got to up your game.

And I think for me probably the most fascinating person – honestly it starts – and again it does for real – it starts going in with Mr. Trump. I mean, you’re going up against one of these people, a person, who is extremely a rockstar in his own right. And at the same time you’re going in there knowing it’s going to be intense in the boardroom. You know that he takes no crap. And, you know, you don’t want to slip up.

And so going in there knowing how extremely intelligent he is, marketing, all that stuff I knew I had to have my game – my A game on right. And then second of all I would say on the cast I think the one I feared the most was going to be Sharon Osbourne.

Donald Trump: One thing I – one thing I could add and I think more so than any other season is that – and the question was asked before about do you have any preconceived notions which is a great question and always an interesting one for me.

But I think more than any other show I would say that some of the people that I thought were really, really, really tough killers weren’t and some of the people that I thought were not that tough turned out to be. And I think more than any other show that’s the case.

And I think you’ll see that because some of the people you think are these absolute rocks in terms of strength are not so strong and some of the ones that you think maybe weren’t as good or wouldn’t be as good are really tough, tough people and tough competitors.

And I think more so than any of the other shows that I’ve done that’s the case here, does that make sense and Bret maybe you can comment on that but I can tell you – and I can’t mention names but a few of the people that I thought were just these brutal killers turned out not to be.

Bret Michaels: I will agree with you beyond 1000%. And what it was when I went in there I went into – knowing that – to never underestimate your opponent. I think that’s my one blessing. But some of the people I thought were going to be, again, completely, completely strong personalities and killers turned out, again, not to be and then some of the ones – fortunately for me I never underestimated anybody because sometimes it’s the sleeper that’s the one that gets you, you know what I mean?

And I’m telling you everybody on this cast – I said it before and I’ll say it again – every single person that joined nobody was a quitter, I mean, everyone came out firing and all of us extremely strong-minded and bullheaded on the way we wanted to accomplish it.

Because if you think about what happens it’s not the task that kills you it’s that there’s all these people battling with their own thought of how you’re going to get there and then the project manager has to figure it out because you’ve got two zillion opinions and it could be death by committee if you procrastinate.

And I think that’s what was a killer for some of these people, they just procrastinated and they got killed. They took too many decisions and finally as project manager you’ve got to jump up and say no, I’m done, this is what we’re doing and some of them just didn’t have the cajones to do it.

Obviously there’s lots of news surrounding NBC lately and, you know, your show does well for them. So I was wondering, Mr. Trump, what you think NBC has to do to kind of get back in the ratings game, produce more scripted shows or, you know, have these realities shows with lots of drama, you know, what your thoughts are on the state of them.

Donald Trump: Well Jeff Gaspin, I know him, and as you know he’s new to the role. And I think he’s going to do a spectacular job at NBC. And, I mean, they need more shows like the Apprentice, not necessarily from a reality standpoint but they need shows that hit – that capture the imagination.

And, you know, frankly certain shows that are on should be changed because, you know, I don’t know they get some pretty good reviews but they don’t get people watching ultimately the people watching is going to be very important. And it’s nice to get both. We’ve sort of had both and we’ve had the Emmy nominations, we’ve had a lot of good accolades passed our way and that’s always nice. But ultimately you have to have people watch. I think that NBC is going to really do well. I mean, I understand their current leadership, I know their leadership and I think they’re winners so I think they’ll turn it around.

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.

And for you 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.


Donald Trump: 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.

You think you can attract different type of clientele for that audience, I mean…

Donald Trump: Well I think this will attract that, yes. I think this will attract that.

Bret Michaels: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know what, to be – I’ll be brutally honest here’s the thing I didn’t even go into this – when I went in to do this I really wanted to be on this show.

It wasn’t like well I wanted to be here and do this show not only for the fact that again I’m a lifelong diabetic, the charity, a situation I’m going through in my personal life with my daughter and different things that are going on in my life, it was important for me to show – to put it out there for, again, for as long as I lasted.

Punctuality is not my strong point if you know what I’m saying. So I’ll just leave it at that. And but I enjoyed every minute. And there’s no doubt this show is a huge success. And if some of those people come back to watch the other one it’s great. But I was – I was just into doing this one while I was there.

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.

And then 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.

Oh my gosh.

Donald Trump: 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.

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.

Are you a Poison fan perchance Mr. Trump?

Donald Trump: Yes I am. What I love…

Bret Michaels: …Unskinny Bop and Nothing But a Good Time.

Donald Trump: We’ll go and have a good time. I hope I get invited. But I am absolutely.

Have you ever thought – are we ever going to see the Apprentice – have you thought about maybe doing one a year of each or is it just not possible?

Donald Trump: Well that’s a very interesting question because I will tell you and I think I can say this, Meredith, a little bit off the record, but we get this question more than any other question, when are we going to bring back the regular Apprentice? And, you know, because it did very well.

And then we just switched to Celebrity but we didn’t do it for any particular reason. I thought it would be very interesting. And, you know, the regular one did so well and you saw that. And, you know, if you get the right cast of the regular so I believe – and, you know, I can tell you NBC is thinking about it; certainly they’re very strongly thinking about it.

A lot of people want us to bring back the regular Apprentice where they keep the Celebrity Apprentice but also bring back the regular so that ultimately is a decision that NBC will make. But I think more than any other question I get asked when are they going to bring back the regular Apprentice.

Looking back do you have ever any regrets of any – looking at the old tapes, do you think why did I do that or why did I say that or do you ever have any regrets on things…

Donald Trump: Well I’ve had a couple. I mean, I’ll give you an example, and I’ll get in a lot of trouble when I say this but who cares, trouble is my business right. When I kept Melissa last season and it was between Melissa and this beautiful girl named Claudia Jordan who is very beautiful. And I kept Melissa. I said, after I did that, oh why did I do that? And then it turned out that Melissa was an unbelievable character later on on the show.

And, you know, it was really – it could have been either one of the two. And I decided – and I really questioned my decision for a while afterwards. I mean, I’ve questioned it a number of times but in the end it works out. It’s sort of interesting because then Melissa came up with that total fit where she went totally crazy and it was carried all over the world, I mean, that fit was one of the great classics.

Claudia would have never had anything like that. She would have said thank you very much and left, you know. Melissa went crazy. And that fit as you remember and I’m sure was one of the great things in television from that season.

And, you know, had I gotten rid of her a few shows earlier we wouldn’t have seen that. So a lot of times I’ll question but in the end it works out.

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.

You strike me – you’ve gone through so many stages of your career, you know, professionally doing all sorts of different things, you strike me as somebody who might get bored fairly quickly and yet you still seem to be as enthused about this as ever. Am I reading that right? Are you as enthused as ever? And what is keeping your interest in this if that’s the case?

Donald Trump: Well that’s a very interesting question. You know, I am enthused about it. And a lot of that has to do with the fact – as you know we’re going to be on two hours now, that’s pretty unusual. Bret, I don’t know if you know it, you know, it’s a two hour show not a one hour show.

Now a one hour show is a show and a two hour show is pretty much unheard of. And what is exciting is you’re on television, everyone recognizes the great success it’s been. It’s gotten such critical, you know, critically positive reviews including Emmy nominations and everything else so it’s been a lot of fun.

But a friend of mine – a great friend of mine who’s in the television business said you don’t give up television, television gives you up. Now you know what that means right? And I thought until just the other night that Jerry Seinfeld might be the exception to that but I see he’s back on television, you know.

But it’s a very interesting expression. And it’s a little bit hard when they say, you know, Donald we want to renew you, we want to this, we – I mean, you know, the good thing is I don’t count on the economics of the show for me. But, you know, there’s something very cool about – I’ve written many number one bestsellers in terms of books and I’ve been on a show that has for many weeks been the number one show on television.

And honestly the television is even cooler. I mean, the book people aren’t going to love me for saying that but the television is even cooler. So, you know, remember the expression you don’t give up television, television gives you up and they haven’t given me up. So, you know, at some point they probably will, it’s very interesting.

And by the way I hosted Saturday Night Live so I have to tell this to the people because I thought it was great. And Loren Michaels who I think is terrific and they were – a couple years ago – they were going crazy, you know, I was hosting the show and the Apprentice was so crazy through the roof and everything else.

And I said, you know Loren it won’t always be like this. Someday the ratings won’t be good and NBC will call me and they’ll say the show is canceled. And he says no Donald, you’re wrong, they won’t even bother to call you. And I thought that was a great – I thought that was a great – I sat there and I said that’s genius.

So anyway I shouldn’t be telling on Loren but he did make that – and, you know, it’s a tough business. It’s tough but it’s very simple. You know, in real estate you have lots of different components, you have financial, you have location, you have lots of different components.

In television it’s very simple, if you get good ratings they keep you going and if you don’t it’s not a pretty picture, you know, so it’s very interesting. So we’re getting very good ratings and they like us and all of that. But I thought the Loren Michaels story – which I’ve never told before, I thought that was an interesting story.

How have your businesses and yourself managed to thrive and sustain in this economic crisis?

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.

Fred Topel: And as far as investments I’m still feeling like I’m being pressured to invest my money which I’m not comfortable with anyway let alone after all these things happened with investment advisors. What would you recommend for someone like myself to do with our money?

Donald Trump: Well I think you have to sit tight because you probably missed a big part of the stock market uptick and, you know, you sort of missed it. And I hate to say go into the stock market now because the markets gone up a lot but it can also go down a lot. And, you know, when you look at what’s going on it’s, you know, pretty complicated.

I think that this a great time to go out and buy real estate, really a good time to go out and buy an apartment, a house, make sure you get financing, probably seller financing or bank financing – when I say bank financing they’re not putting up any money but you use the bank that’s already got the property because they’ve already put up the money. So I think it’s a great time to go out and make an investment in real estate.

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.


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