The Celebrity Apprentice is back tonight with an all new season that looks like it will be full of drama. Joining the show this go around are: Vivica Fox, Kate Gosselin, Brandi Glanville, Kenya Moore, Gilbert Gottfried, Ian Ziering, Leeza Gibbons, Terrell Owens, Shawn Johnson, Johnny Damon, Lorenzo Lamas, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Geraldo Rivera, Jamie Anderson, Kevin Jonas, and Sig Hansen.
OHSOGRAY participated in a call with celebs Ian Ziering, Vivica Fox and Leeza Gibbons to find out about their experiences on the show, including working with the late Joan Rivers. Check out what they had to say below, and tune in to The Celebrity Apprentice tonight at 9/8c on NBC.
Leeza, in the past interview you stated that your mom taught you just to show up and do your best, do you think you’ve done your best on this show and what were some of your setbacks?
Leeza Gibbons: I think everybody brought their A game and everybody in this cast delivered their best, it’s an incredible season. For me — and I’ll – I suspect for my buddies Ian and Vivica on the line too — one of the first things that I noticed in terms of what you’re calling drawbacks, this is a group of people that likes to be in charge of their own lives, right, everybody likes to be buckled into the driver’s seat of their life.
Vivica Fox: Exactly.
Leeza Gibbons: And this requires that you collaborate, that you compromise. That, I think, you know, Vivica tell me if I’m speaking for you too, I don’t think that comes naturally to a lot of us.
Vivica Fox: Absolutely. I mean not everyone, you know, I think what Leeza, Ian and I that we’re so used to taking constructive criticism from producers and directors that we know how to bend and not everyone bends as easily as others, that’s what I found out from working this season on Celebrity Apprentice.
Could you guys please talk about working with Joan Rivers who was a judge on two of the episodes?
Vivica Fox: Well for me it was an absolute pleasure because I had met Joan over the years just being on the Red Carpet, with the famous “who are you wearing” and when she would show up, it was always so much love and such a pleasant surprise. She was tough. She would let you know you’re not doing a good job or you need to step-up so it was definitely tough love and an absolute pleasure to spend some time with her and I was just as shocked and devastated as with everyone else was of her passing.
Ian Ziering: I had a chance to be on Joan Rivers’ talk show many, many, many years ago — maybe it was the early 90s — and have always been – had always been a fan of hers to meet her in person was really a thrill. For a person who can dish out such caustic humor, she always maintained a sense of grace and elegance, which was a nice juxtaposition against her comedy. She was fun to be around and was very exciting to work with her.
Leeza Gibbons: Very supportive, a mentor for women. Joan certainly knows business like nobody, she’s just like nobody else. She was so sharp and so honest and stayed so relevant but what everybody I think remembers about her is that cheerleader side of her, that warmth side of her, that supportive side of her, of really wanting to inspire and encourage — especially other woman in business — and it was really a very rare and wonderful treat to be able to work with her on this as I’ve done in other shows in the past, but this was really just a perfect venue for her.
There are a couple of Atlanta people on the show, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Kenya Moore, what were your impressions or experiences with either of these woman?
Vivica Fox: I found them to be very intelligent, very outgoing and very driven and they make the show very interesting this season. So Atlantans will be very proud of Kenya and, gosh, Keshia.
Leeza Gibbons: Amen to that Vivica. These woman are tough, they are competitive. They came in like we all did with the goal in mind of getting that prize money for their charities and seeing what they could do. I’ve got to say, I had never – when I was hosting pageants, I crowned Kenya. That was my only experience with her when she was in a more vulnerable position. Not a lot of vulnerability, a lot of strength, but both of them are really fierce competitors, wouldn’t you say Ian?
Ian Ziering: Absolutely, they came to the table hunting for bear. You know, they…well they had a goal in mind and their objective was to raise a lot of money for their charities and what’s nice — what I noticed about everyone — is that when you’re asking for yourself, there’s a bit of trepidation. But when you’re going after something for a greater good, to actually do good things for other people, there’s no holds barred, there’s no shame. So they each approached it that they’re going to win and that was evident from meeting them.
Vivica Fox: And then I remember like one of our first challenges, like me and Kenya we were out on the streets of New York, passing out flyers, bringing people to our competition and had no shame in our game at all so they both worked really hard.
Leeza Gibbons: When there’s so much money at stake—last season the celebrities won like $3 million for their charities. So we all went into it knowing that. When there’s that much money at stake, people are really, as Vivica said, nobody had any shame in their game. It’s amazing what you can do and how fearless you can become when you’ve really got your eye on that prize.
All three of you have been on Dancing With The Stars, how different an experience was this show?
Vivica Fox: This was definitely harder than Dancing With The Stars. It is, for me, it definitely was. Dancing With The Stars you got to rehearse like, six hours a day but then you got to walk away from it. We worked like 12 hour days, 6 days a week and, wow, there were some nights that I could barely go to sleep, because my brain wouldn’t shut-off because I was thinking – because we were turning the task around so fast.
Leeza Gibbons: First of all everyone knows Ian can dance. If you watched my season of the show you know it was not my greatest strength. I felt more comfortable in this environment because I know the language of business better than I know dance. But I agree with Vivica, it – I think we all under – we knew it was going to be tough, but I underestimated how exhausting it would be and the mental stamina that, you know, Dancing With The Stars is physical stamina, this had mental and physical stamina and it didn’t stop.
Vivica Fox: Agreed Leeza, yes, yes.
Ian Ziering: I would agree with that. Dancing with the Stars is so physically rigorous, they tell you you don’t have to rehearse at all but of course if you expect to win, rehearse as much as you can to make it as good as it can possibly be. I just learn best through repetition. So I wanted to go after it and do it again and again and again to the point where I ended up having foot surgery. I wore the bottom of my foot out. It was an overcome-able obstacle and certainly worth it, went pretty far. But in this — in the Celebrity Apprentice — is a completely different skill set. When I was in Dancing With The Stars, I had the ability to act, to portray the part of a dancer. I had it in my mind. I had the experience through other opportunities that I had some dancing with. But in Celebrity Apprentice, this is all – this is business acumen and that’s a hat that you can’t just act, you have to deliver on, so you need real world experience in this. It was much more mentally taxing doing Celebrity Apprentice then it was doing Dancing with the Stars. Dancing with the Stars was much more physically taxing. Either way it was just great competition and with any of these competitions I always, set my eye on the prize and that’s my goal and work out a plan and work the plan.
What were some of the most shocking moments of the season, did anything come as a surprise to you all?
Ian Ziering: Donald Trump got fired. I bet you’re shocked to hear that. How can we talk about that without spoiling anything?
Leeza Gibbons: Here’s what we could say. You’ll be shocked to find out that – I think everyone will be stunned to find out that Gilbert Gottfried is an animal. He’s just an animal. It will be incredible to have that side of him revealed.
Vivica Fox: And then also you – I think shocking things that you’ll be able to see — shocked to see — some of the friendships that develop. Like who works really well with each other and who doesn’t work so well with each other, that will be shocking to find out.
Leeza Gibbons: It won’t be shocking for anyone to see that Vivica A. Fox had such fantastic shoes the entire season, they need their own show. Her shoes need their own show.
Ian Ziering: Both of you fashionistas.
Vivica Fox: Well Ian please, your fashions were pretty hot too, you were definitely bringing you’re A game too with the fashion, so, we’ll say the fashions will be shocking as well too because we were sharp.
Vivica and Ian, what was it like working together first on Sharknado 2 and then competing against one another with the Celebrity Apprentice?
Ian Ziering: I had worked with Vivica before, a long time ago, on 90210 and had a great respect and appreciation for her from that and seeing her go on to such fantastic successes in the Kill Bill movies and all the other science fiction movies she’s done. It was great to work with her on Sharknado; I knew she was going to bring a lot to the table. I didn’t know — when we were both booked for Sharknado — wasn’t it until we were sitting across from each other in the make-up chair of Sharknado when we realized that we were going to be working together in Celebrity Apprentice or working…because you’re not supposed to talk about it. But, we kind of talked a little bit and we’re both very happy and surprised to know that we were both going to be working on Celebrity Apprentice together, it was great. I love Vivica, such an awesome woman, so fun to work with.
Vivica Fox: Aw, me love you back, yes. And for me it was a welcomed surprise to find out that we were then going to do Celebrity Apprentice together. So last year we spent, what about four or five months straight almost in New York? And it was cold, I can tell you that. It was a cold season. But it was good — some days — to see a kind face that I knew, that when it got really tough — and it did get mentally exhausting some days — that just to go over and was able to get a hug or just say, whoo, you know, are you hanging in there, just to be able to separate and got to know Ian really as a friend outside of a competitor on the show. So I was blessed and very, very happy that we got to do the two projects back-to–back.
How do you guys prepare for something like Celebrity Apprentice?
Vivica Fox: What I did is I asked a couple of people that had been on there in the past from Star Jones to Holly Robinson Peete to Mark McGrath, who we were doing Sharknado 2 with, what was it like. The first thing that they all said is be prepared to work. So I said, okay, this isn’t going to be, “no-no, you don’t work.” I said, “Okay, you’ve got to be mentally tough and physically tough to endure this.”
Leeza Gibbons: Yes Holly was really great giving me insight to as was Marilu Henner and I think that probably for most people because it’s – you’re putting yourself in an environment that’s unfamiliar to you. You want to kind of reach out and say, hang on, is this – am I going to be able to deliver and do my best and everybody from – well my buddy Bill Ranci from the very first Apprentice to everyone else that I spoke with — it was just a handful of people — said what a great experience it was for them, how much attention the opportunity brought to their charities — which everybody on this call cares about — and how much they grew and that’s a real opportunity. This was probably one of the best opportunities for personal growth that I can imagine. You don’t know how much you can take, you don’t know who you are going to be in this scenario, you think you do, but you really don’t know until you get there and it was revealing.
Ian Ziering: I prepared by talking to a few past contestants, Mark McGrath, of course, because I was working with him right before on Sharknado, spoke to Annie Duke, but on top of that I also went back and watched every episode of Celebrity Apprentice. I wanted to see how the dynamic of the show played out. What things Donald looked for, what things he didn’t like, what qualities in people he gravitated towards, what he was adverse to. You know really you look at it like gang tape and on top of that knowing that I had to be prepared for any situation, I looked deep into my rolodex for one, look for people with money, and two, look for people with resources — and varied resources — because you never know what you’re going to have to come up with, you need to pull rabbits out of your hat on this show. So I had my – everything organized and categorized like a flow chart where I needed to go if I had to find something.
Leeza Gibbons: Oh, he’s not kidding, he’s not kidding. Ian you were like a machine with – talk about organized and strategized and it was unbelievable. I kind of was shaking in my boots until like the night before I had to get on the plane and probably should have done that kind of backup. I think all of us though regardless of how well prepared you thought you were or not it comes down to taking a deep breath and moving forward because you don’t have time to really think about anything else, you just have to get into action.
Ian Ziering: Yes and like you said Leeza the personal growth that you experience is tremendous. For me, you know, I never thought in a business sense. Being on Celebrity Apprentice, for me, was like getting an MBA at Trump University. Going through the prerequisites and studying all the prior shows and putting together my game and then implementing everything that I’d come to the party with really set my mind spinning. Since the show I’ve gotten involved in three businesses because I just found that I could do something, I could do it, I could make it happen and I’d never even applied myself in this direction so it’s really spurred me on to do things that I’d never done before.
What else did you learn about yourself through this process?
Vivica Fox: Well for me it was my patience. I definitely learned to be a lot more patient and learned to kind of know my place, play my position and stay in my lane because there were times that you were the project manager that had to take the lead then there were other times that your job was to be an assistant. So being that we all are type of people that are in charge of our careers and we run our system, we converse with our manager and our agent on what direction we want to go in. These – the challenges that we – the tasks that we were given some times and just knowing your place and playing your position and staying in lane for me that was like, oh wow, okay, I’m good at strategizing and more than anything else was I learned about patience because there were days that my patience was definitely tested.
Leeza Gibbons: Yes I concur 100% with that. I learned that my mother was right, that if you just put your blinders on and don’t worry about the other horses in the race, you’re going to succeed and you’re going to do better. And for me, you’re looking at everybody else and part of the game is to figure out what everybody else is doing and how to build on that or how to defend yourself against that. But, I learned that I did best if I just focused on the task at hand. It was surprising to me – all of us have been around camera’s for decades and I thought, well, it’s a realty show, we’re going to be very aware of where those cameras on and when they’re shooting us. It took about a nano second for that to go away and for the entire experience I really had no awareness — and really didn’t care — when the cameras were on or not because we were so focused on your competitive drive just gets into overdrive, and you started there Ian in overdrive.
Ian Ziering: Oh, you know what, every night I had to unwind and we’d come home, we’d just finished a day and I would just – I started just write down my thoughts for the day just to figure out where my head was. And then after the show was over — after my participation within the context of the entire show was done — it still took me about two or three weeks to unwind and settle back because I would just look at things like how do I overcome, what do I need to accomplish to achieve my goal, how do I get around, who can I talk to to facilitate. I mean everything just lights up when you’re on The Apprentice as you get immersed in it your thought patterns change. And for me it took a little bit of time to decompress from that. It’s such a – you’re compressed and you’re immersed in it. You do a new project every other day.
Vivica Fox: And I thought I knew New York but I sure learned a lot more about New York then what I ever thought to know.
What was it like to work with Donald Trump?
Vivica Fox: Well if I, that was my first time having that much contact with Mr. Trump and I found him to be a straight shooter, which is the kind of person that I like. I found that if you were honest with him and you didn’t try to BS him, that you – that he would – he just responded to you a lot more positively. So like I said I got to know him and I personally got even more respect for him because he’s a straight shooter and he likes making things happen and that’s my kind of guy.
Leeza Gibbons: Donald Trump is so charismatic, such a powerful force, such a strong business icon but what I loved was seeing the off-camera side of him which is as Vivica said very straight-forward and no nonsense, but really funny, like really, really, funny. And he’s very aware of making sure that everybody feels that they are having a shot. Meaning he’s just aware of everybody’s presence in the room. He’s The Donald and equally as impressive to me were working with the advisors, his children, Don, Erik and Ivanka, wow, the work ethic in that family is so extraordinary high that we couldn’t not deliver because you thought everything we’ve done they’ve done and more. And they are great advisors, they taught me a lot too so I really, really enjoyed the whole family.
Ian Ziering: The family, the organization, really just class acts through and through. My first experience with Donald was when he came into the boardroom and he comes on – comes in with this very serious face and he sits down — and this is even before the cameras had started rolling — the first thing he says is I want you all to know that this is my hair, it is not a toupee. Again, great sense of humor and a class act. You’re right, Vivica, he’s a very straight shooter, he tells it like it is, he’s got an opinion and, you know, he’s an amazing dynamic man who’s an incredible builder, he’s built up so many parts of New York, he’s expanded down into the Washington, DC area into Florida with the Doral Golf Course down there in Ireland with golf courses there. Just real incredible family and I think Ivanka is as close to what an American Princess would be if we had one, she’s just elegant, and smart, and so just such a role model. I couldn’t imagine any woman who wouldn’t want to be as accomplished and well-spoken and educated and beautiful as she is, she’s just incredible and the boys are great too, Donald and Eric just chips off the old block.
Leeza Gibbons: I’m not ashamed to admit I’m obsessed with Ivanka, I’ve just – no shame, she’s unbelievable.
Vivica Fox: Yes, there’s a lot of the girls, a lot of the girls got girl crushes on Ivanka.
Leeza Gibbons: We sure did.
Vivica Fox: Like, “Ivanka’s here today, oh my god, she’s got on good shoes.” She was awesome.
Leeza Gibbons: But nobody has a higher shoe – no one has a higher get-it factor than Donald Trump and it was amazing to be in his audience and watch him do his thing on his turf, just a really cool experience.
What are some of the business lessons you learned during this journey?
Ian Ziering: Yes, well, you know what, I would look for – I would look for ways to duplicate successful models. If there was an opportunity for me to be involved in something where whatever the product or goal was, if there was a similar business that was out there that was doing it already, I would look for ways to duplicate successful business models. And do what the successful people are doing to make them successful.
Leeza Gibbons: I realize that it takes both the ability to be a strong leader and to be a good follower or business does not get done and so we were all challenged with showing up in both of those categories on the tasks. And especially in this pressure cooker environment where things are accelerated at warp speed I learned that inspired thought requires bold action. And most business leaders have that instinctively, that was really driven home for me during Celebrity Apprentice because you had to rely on – you had to take action, there was no time to overthink and sometimes we act without thinking but many times we continue thinking without acting and that’s the kiss of death in business. So I really learned that you have to take bold action.
How did your communication skills improve during this process?
Leeza Gibbons: Who said they did? [Laughs] Our communication skills, with our team members?
Vivica Fox: Well, like I said for me – for mine I would learn some, I thought the sense to dish out constructive criticism sometimes. I had to learn like per episode like, you know, each person how to manipulate them to get the end result of what I want. Because you couldn’t – some people you had to kind of, you know, handle them with kid gloves and other people you could just be a straight shooter with, you know, so you had to learn the difference of working with the personality per cast. What was some of the other contestants’ weaknesses and what were their strengths and who you could send to do certain things and they would deliver and then it wouldn’t be a big argument or a set-back.
Can you tell us about the charities or foundations that you’re working so hard for this season?
Ian Ziering: My charity was Epidermolysis Bullosa a medical research foundation that does such incredible work. You can find them online at ebkids.org and it’s a fatal skin disease that causes the proteins in the skin to be malformed and eventually the skin just doesn’t hold up. So these children end up living their lives in bandages, in constant pain. So having two little girls myself I couldn’t imagine anything more horrible and I wanted to champion that cause because I felt that its overlooked and underfunded and I wanted to make a change for something that’s being done here in the United States.
Leeza Gibbons: I’m – my goal for getting on the show — the incredible opportunity that it is — is really this amazing pot of gold for charity. And for a charity like mine, which is called Leeza’s Care Connection, this opportunity can be a real game changer. So my mother who has passed away from Alzheimer’s disease was my guiding light the whole time. Ten years ago I started our foundation because it was what I created in the world what we wished we’d had when my mom was going through her Alzheimer’s disease. My dad and my brother and my sister and myself we were lost and we didn’t…we were stuck with this burning question now what? So we created Leeza’s Care Connection which is part of the answer for now what do you do when someone you love gets a diagnosis, how do you get support, how do you feel empowered, how do you call on your courage so that you can move forward and take care of that person and also hang onto yourself. So my dog in the hunt was really representing all of those family caregivers, those heroes, who show up for duty every day when someone they love is sick or dying.
Vivica Fox: I played for Best Buddies. I was introduced to Best Buddies with – through Carl Lewis — Olympian Carl Lewis — years ago and I fell in love with the Kennedy/Shriver family who works very, very hard to provide housing and employment opportunities for kids with – special needs kids and adults with special needs. To see these kids with special needs, how they just want to be normal, the things that we take for granted, getting up, going to work, having someone take you serious, have someone look at your talent and not look at you because you have a special need and let it be a detriment. It’s something I’ve been involved in for the last ten years and they actually came by and celebrated a birthday with me when I was filming the show. And for me Best Buddies is just something that I believe in and was proud to represent them.
When you’re fighting for your charities, what’s your best strategy to not get fired and how do you balance your professionalism with Mr. Trump but also put up a good fight for yourself?
Vivica Fox: I found that just being honest with Mr. Trump and not trying to sugar coat if things didn’t go well, to take responsibility and to learn from each task and I just felt for me my strongest tool for survival in the board room was honesty but don’t come at me crazy, boo, because it’s all in my popcorn and I’m going to leave it there.
Leeza Gibbons: Nicely done Vivica. She’s right, it’s a no BS zone in that board room and I think all of us are fans of it as well but when you’re in the middle of it, the energy really shifts and I think that the – if you – the direct approach is probably always the best approach. And maybe for some people, I don’t know, maybe for some people it was a conflict of ethics and professionalism or they’re competition, which one leads and which one recedes, we’ll have to see how that plays out this year.
Ian Ziering: Yes, it’s really best to just be open, I felt, that it was just be open and honest and fuel your passion on a foundation of integrity. If you’re doing things and letting people know what you’re doing and inspiring them to take part of the journey with you, when you’re in the boardroom it’s pretty hard to shoot that down.