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Celebrity Apprentice Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Niki Taylor on March 23, 2011 about appearing on the show Celebrity Apprentice.

Niki Taylor

Question:
Was that a long-established strategy of yours that if you were project manager and you lost and you didn't feel like you could throw anybody under the bus to just leave like that?

Niki Taylor:
I think that was kind of my thinking on the whole thing. I don't know if you watched the show the week before with Lisa it was really kind of testy waters like you didn't want to like pull them aside, make sure they knew what the task was, what their job was because they attacked Lisa. And I guess I didn't want that, and the way they edit everything, too, they kind of missed out a lot of the stuff of me talking with them, too. So, yeah there was really nobody I could bring back in the boardroom and it kind of had to happen like that.

Question:
How did you handle Star Jones so well?

Niki Taylor:
Well Star and I, we've known each other a few years and I I know she did say that I was lacking leadership and she didn't know what she was doing, but that's the way Star plays the game. You know, but other than that, you kind of just really had to kind of keep your distance. And it's kind of hard to learn everybody's personality in such a short amount of time because the Type A personalities and my personality, you had to kind of just talk to them with the perfect tone, with the right words and it's really exhausting.

Question:
In terms of the actual challenge itself, have you gone back into your head and thought about outside of having John Rich sing country, anything you guys could have done to kind of overtake the men?

Niki Taylor:
Absolutely. I think on our dossier, there was nowhere - we had no phone number to call in plants or green turf. The guys just went ahead and thought of that first and they did that. So I think we could have brought in - I think if we brought in some green and we put our banners on our RVs we would have won.

Question:
How was the experience for you overall?

Niki Taylor:
I learned a lot. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was a great experience for myself and I got to win $135,000 for the American Red Cross in the first episode. So I did win a little money for my charity.

Question:
A lot of viewers were very impressed by the way you handled yourself on the show, especially in the boardroom, but they've been upset with the negative tone this season complaining that the bullies are being rewarded for their behavior and they don't like the message that it's sending. What's your take on that? Do you agree that the cattiness and kind of backbiting seem to be prevailing on the show or do you think that's just due to editing?

Niki Taylor:
Yeah, I think it's due to editing. That's what makes good TV and that's kind of what makes this reality show and unfortunately you usually bring back two people into the boardroom that not necessarily throw under the bus but didn't like do their job or didn't work as hard as the others. Unfortunately you saw with Star and Dionne and they show their true character and that's truly how they are that's how they are in life and that's how they are as people and it's unfortunate. And I feel really bad for them.

Question:
Marlee said that she wished you had fought for yourself to stay. Are you satisfied with your decision to take the fall for your team's loss?

Niki Taylor:
I am. I think it was the right decision. Each girl they worked their butts off. They did everything that I asked them to. They made their space in each part of their camper that they were assigned to beautiful and they learned everything about an RV and camping that day. So if I was going to take the fall, I think we beat the boys. I think we should have beat the boys. So I didn't have a guitar. I couldn't sing a jingle and I didn't have green turf. I think that's the only reason why we lost. We had amazing branding. We gave out folders to everybody who walked in. We gave them waters that had Camping World on it. You know, we just felt we gave everybody hospitality and so we weren't throwing a baseball around. And so I think we should have won.

Question:
Were you nervous about calling out Dionne to Donald Trump for being difficult to work with at all?

Niki Taylor:
A little bit, yeah. You know, first I've never seen a 70-year-old person act like that. Maybe somebody a lot younger, but she was doing it all weak. Marlee and Hope, she did off-camera. She was attacking everybody the whole time. And so I knew my turn was going to come up, and then finally I was just like, okay, here it comes. She's going to do it to me on camera. She's going to try and push my buttons when all I did was show her respect. I gave her respect. I was sweet to her. I was nothing but kind to her. So not even a kind person can get kindness out of Dionne. So, no, I had to tell Mr. Trump like it was and I think you're going to see in this next - this next show coming up next week kind of just the true and to see how Dionne handles things.

Question:
You really impressive in the first few tasks. Was it harder being project manager than you imagined?

Niki Taylor:
Yes. I probably should have waited a little longer, but it kind of fell into my lap. I was the only one that had been camping. And I'm glad I did choose it because it was outside, we were always busy, always moving, there was tons of stuff to do. I think if I was in a confined room like Lisa was the week before, I would have been attacked a lot more, so this was actually a great task for me. I'm glad I chose it. Unfortunately, I'm upset that I didn't win any money for my charity on this task.

Question:
How is it balancing the different personalities between telling them what to do and letting them do what they wanted?

Niki Taylor:
Exhausting. Vecause you knew Star was playing the game. You knew Dionne hated you and but all the other girls were amazing. But you always had to watch out for those two and it was just like, really? I just want to beat the guys here. Come on. Let's just get along. Let's do our best here and just get along.

Question:
You talked a little bit about during this interview about how proud you were of your team and how you really thought they all did a good job but when you went into the boardroom and Donald asked you, you did express some doubt and some uncertainty as to whether your team won or not. So exactly why were you unsure in that moment of walking into the boardroom? Why were you unsure about whether your team had won or not?

Niki Taylor:
I was unsure because after we got back to our boardroom, I overheard that John Rich had come up with a jingle and during one of my interviews I saw that they had a whole bunch of green and trees and hedges and beautiful turf all laid down and I'm like, oh, my goodness, that's what I've been wanting. That's what I wanted. So, it's hard to go up against a guy who's an amazing person who can come up with a good jingle and the green, I think was just really eye-popping. So I was a little unsure. I didn't know what they guys were doing. I didn't go over the guys' side. So but we did amazing on the brand messaging and I thought the experience was great. I think the CEO made a wrong decision letting the guys win.

Question:
Who surprised you the most on the women's team and who surprised you the most on the men's team and why?

Niki Taylor:
NeNe Leakes, who was such an amazing person. She went above and beyond every time I asked her to do something. She was just fantastic with me when at first I was a little scared meeting her just because of all the stuff I heard about Housewives of Atlanta. But she was amazing and super, super great with me. And on the guys' side, I don't know. I really haven't thought about the guy side. I know John's going to be amazing.

Question:
What did you learn about yourself? What surprised you about yourself from this experience?

Niki Taylor:
I need to speak up a little more. Maybe take somebody aside if they need to definitely speak up more.

Question:
Did you expect to win so much respect from Mr. Trump after you owned your project and took responsibility for everything?

Niki Taylor:
I though he handled that very well. You're so nervous going into the boardroom, you're just like oh, please just get me through this. So no, I was very flattered and it was very nice how he handled it.

Question:
In the first episode you learned a little bit of sign language with Marlee Matlin. Did you learn anything else from her sign language wise?

Niki Taylor:
A little bit. I learned bossy. I know how to say bossy because we were referring to a few people. And then I know just like basic stuff that I do with my daughter like please, thank you, but Marlee is an amazing lip reader and you can have a conversation with her and she is so funny. Oh, my gosh. She's got a sense of humor.

Question:
Since you didn't bring anyone back to the boardroom, did you also feel a sense of relief to be leaving given how strong the personalities were, like what was going through your mind at that time?

Niki Taylor:
Yes. I think once I got in the car I was like, I think it was a good time to go. I don't know. You just like - you just - you can't win against a Star Jones or a Dionne who doesn't want to be there and who are just, I mean, you saw their true character I believe in the show and I think it was just going to get worse. But I hated leaving my other girls there. And to have to do that by themselves. I wish I did win more money for the American Red Cross.

Question:
Given how challenging it was to manage Dionne and Star, who did you relate to the most on your team as far as how to handle them?

Niki Taylor:
Oh, Hope and I we got along amazing, Marlee, NeNe, even LaToya, we were we come from a background where we work good with other people and we've got a goal and what do we have to do to get there. You know, not go behind somebody's back and start stuff.

Question:
It is harder being on the Celebrity Apprentice or is it harder being a model?

Niki Taylor:
Definitely being on the Apprentice. I've modeling for over 20 years and that's just been my job. But the Apprentice, yeah, was definitely challenging and that's what I loved about it. And I keep telling everybody that's why I did it because it scared me and it got me out of my comfort zone. And I wanted to win money for my charity which was the American Red Cross. So, yeah, but I learned a lot about myself and I speak up more and I learned a lot about brand messaging. I can make pizzas and I did a children's book. I got to perform on stage. It was - overall it was a good experience for me.

Question:
Can you talk about why you picked that specifically the American Red Cross as your charity?

Niki Taylor:
I chose it because I was in the car accident in 2001 and I needed over 100 units of blood and the American Red Cross supplied my hospital with that blood and this is me thanking all those people that donate blood every day.

Question:
What was the most fun part of filming the show?

Niki Taylor:
I actually had a really good time working with all the girls and I got to bring my husband and my daughter with me, so we all got to - we stayed in the Trump Towers. We were right across the street from the Park. So I guess it would be coming home and seeing my husband and baby every night. My boys were back here in Nashville. But, I don't know, I guess I wanted to see what our next challenge was and push myself a little bit.

Question:
Do you think as the women's team gets to know each other better, do you think they're bonding and becoming closer or do you think they're becoming more competitive with each other?

Niki Taylor:
I know they were definitely becoming more competitive. Maybe not Marlee or Hope, but the others, yes.

Question:
Do you think had your teammates maybe not had performed up to par that you would have fought more to stay?

Niki Taylor:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And it's so funny because like I ran this through my head as I saw the show and how I did exit, actually I really wanted to ask Donald, I'm like Mr. Trump, can you please ask Dionne if she really, really wants to be here because I really want to be here. I want to fight for my charity.

Because Dionne, she only did what she was told, she just - she took lots of smoke breaks and she was just like miserable and you could really tell. She just didn't want to be there. So I wanted to tell him ask her if she wants to be here and if she does, that means she's going to go above and beyond for the next task. And if she quits or if she gets fired, you need to bring me back.

Question:
Who do you think is the strongest fighter on the side?

Niki Taylor:
Oh, gosh. I'm going to say, gosh, NeNe, Marlee are pretty strong candidates. Definitely John Rich. You got, I mean, Meatloaf. I don't know, you got a lot of strong, strong people.

Question:
In the last episode, Hope had mentioned something about Star being a bully. Would you consider Star or Dionne Warwick to be bullies?

Niki Taylor:
Absolutely. That's all I have to say. I don't think just the TV has to show their true character. They have absolutely no joy in their lives and they are bullies.

Question:
In the previous episode, also, Star Jones directed the challenges including the last project when you were product manager. Did this somewhat undermine your abilities as the leader and you also mentioned earlier that Dionne seemed miserable and didn't want to be there. Why didn't you bring her back in the boardroom with you?

Niki Taylor:
Because she did what she was asked. Then I believe she went to Bed, Bath & Beyond, but we didn't see that part and she was gone until our time was up. So she did everything that she was asked. Going against Star Jones who is a lawyer, she's already got all the questions, she already has all the answers I definitely did not lead like Star did. I don't think you need to lead in this particular task for Camping World, it was it was fun, it was supposed to be an experience, it was supposed to be light.

You know, there wasn't really that nothing too - you know what I mean? Like everybody was in charge of their own area of the RV and so I just think she just had to make sure like just in case I brought her back in the boardroom, she covered all her bases. So I think that's kind of what you always just had to keep in the back of your mind with Star.

Question:
How do you feel about people saying that you gave up and when you had the opportunity to bring Dionne to the boardroom you didn't do it?

Niki Taylor:
I'm not that kind of player, I guess. My girls did do everything I asked them to. We had an amazing experience, as well as branding. What you see on TV is how they edit it. I was project manager and ultimately you can't tell the CEO hey you have to choose this one. Everybody has different tastes and different styles of things that how they want things, and he ultimately like the guys' better than the girls'.

I guess I could have brought that up, but I can't fight. He's already chosen the guys. And yeah, I could sit there and fight a 70 year old woman, but would that look good? No. You know, I think you're going to see in this next one really how Dionne handles herself even more. But I don't think I gave up. I think I did my best. I did get to win some money for my charity, so I think I won here.

Question:
A lot of celebrities, either the ones who have been fired or who have been interviewed before, are unanimously saying that Star Jones is a bully. Star Jones is difficult to get along with. You know, she's being the project manager when she's not supposed to be.

Niki Taylor:
See, I never said she's difficult. I didn't say she was difficult to get along with. She definitely pushes you and there's a lot of TV you didn't see with her talking back to me.

Question:
Since she did come from a legal background, do you feel like that she has a certain business advantage over the other celebrities, especially like celebrities are mostly taken care by handlers and publicists but she was a lawyer before she became a celebrity?

Niki Taylor:
Yeah. Yeah, I guess so, and yeah, and I know she has a book that just came out, too, which I hope does very well but I hear it's called Satan's Sisters. I wish she would have looked at that opportunity as a positive and what she got out of it because it was a gift given to her at the time.

And now she's how many years has it been that she's kind of been away with it. I don't know, it just - but yes, she definitely had an advantage coming from the legal background and business. What I brought to the team is I've been in the fashion industry for over 20 years so I know a lot about fashion shoots and what goes into making a brand. So we all had our different things that - you know, strengths.

Question:
It sounds like some of the people aren't there to have fun. You know it's a game but it sounds like a people there aren't having fun. They're just going there to either attack or because they didn't have anything else to do. They get their face out there. Is that what you noticed?

Niki Taylor:
Yes. Absolutely. And it's guys against girls. Come on girls, let's like stick together. You know, let's like try and beat the guys as much as we can, it just started way before even the cameras were on us, there were already things starting. And I'm like, oh, boy. What did I get myself into, you know. We all love charities. We all love everybody's charity. I think everybody wanted to win money for each other's charity, as well. So, yeah, I think some people there's just other issues there then being there for what we're really there for.

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