Exclusive interview with Donald Trump on the eve of 'The Celebrity Apprentice' finale
My interest in "Celebrity Apprentice" is more than just the fun of seeing these dignified celebrities battle it out with such intensity. I’m also interested in how these icons that have achieved so much professional success and are willing to put themselves on the line in order to benefit their personal charities.
My own dedication in this area has led me to become involved with Iconomy, a company that represents celebrity icons in their quest to achieve more than momentary success. In fact, I was drawn to Iconomy's promise to help icons go from “Success to Significance.” Iconomy represents celebrity, sports, and business icons in broadening the appeal of their name to other business and charitable opportunities by creating customized products, platforms and distribution channels. “Kareem had achieved everything he wanted as a basketball player," said Iconomy founder Deborah Morales. “Now we’re helping him achieve everything he wants to as an educator, author, businessman, and humanitarian. Whatever he wants to accomplish in business and with charities, we make it happen.”
Ms. Morales helped me create "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey through the Harlem Renaissance" so that I could help educate people on black history. So as you can tell I have a significant interest in hearing about how other celebrities raise money for their charities. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Donald Trump about his show "Celebrity Apprentice" (whose finale airs tonight on NBC). You can read our short Q&A after the jump.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Earlier this month on "Celebrity Apprentice," America’s Sweetheart, Omarosa, led her team to the wrong end of what you called “the biggest beating in the history of the show.” Because she’s such a love-to-hate personality, does the defeat lessen the tension, or have viewers already moved on?
Donald Trump: The defeat made it clear that Omarosa needs to work on her focus—it’s not all about Omarosa. There’s plenty of tension left, however, as no one is irreplaceable and with Piers and Trace we’ve got some major talent.
KAJ: Turned out "Celebrity Apprentice" was such a good idea that next year there will be a second season of Celebrity Apprentice. Does this mean that, despite the loss we just discussed, there’s a chance that Omarosa might make it into another season of your show?
Trump: We have some big names who are interested in being on the show. We’ll announce them soon.
KAJ: Can you name some of your favorite contestants and tell us what it was about them that particularly affected you?
Trump: Carol Alt turned out to be a very strong competitor, which didn’t really surprise me. I know a lot of very beautiful women who are also extremely smart. Marilu Henner added a team dynamic that was well placed. Tito and Lennox are champions for good reason, and Gene Simmons carries his notoriety well.
KAJ: Who surprised you the most during this latest competition?
Trump: At first I thought Steve Baldwin was a flake, but he turned out to be a relatively solid person.
KAJ: How is it to have your daughter and son in your show with you, and how do you evaluate their participation? Did they have fun doing it?
Trump: It’s terrific to have them with me. They’re bright, observant and articulate. I think they’ve enjoyed doing the show, and if they haven’t, they’ve done a great job anyway.
KAJ: You are one of the most open personalities out there. You often call into the "Howard Stern Show." What was the most embarrassing or uncomfortable question that Howard has ever asked you?
Trump: That’s far too embarrassing to answer.
KAJ: In October of last year on Larry King, you predicted that Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton would win their parties' nominations, and that you would support either of them. Would you have any problem supporting Barack Obama? What about John McCain?
Trump: They are all good candidates.
KAJ: Los Angeles, and much of the country, is in the midst of a real estate crisis. People are choosing to walk away from their homes because they cost more than they’re worth. What is your take on this crisis, and what advice would you have for homeowners who find themselves having to make tough choices right now?
Trump: Real estate has ups and downs and runs in cycles. That’s the norm, not an aberration. Not panicking is a good choice for everyone at this time. History has proven that things level out.
Top photo of Kareem, Donald Trump, and Deborah Morales via Iconomy; photo of Daniel Baldwin, Omarosa, and Trace Adkins courtesy NBC