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Celebrity Apprentice Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Donald Trump, Aubrey O'Day, Clay Aiken, and Arsenio Hall on May 9, 2012 about appearing on the show Celebrity Apprentice.

Arsenio Hall

Question:
Who out of everyone that has been on the show so far, even the ones that have left, did you learn the most from and what did you learn?

Aubrey O'Day:
In prior seasons I really enjoyed watching Marlee Matlin on the show. I thought that she was very sincere and kind and very determined worker. I also enjoyed Joan Rivers because she made the show watchable and exciting.

Donald Trump:
And what about this show, Lisa?

Aubrey O'Day:
The female that I loved the most on this show is hands down Lisa Lampanelli because she's the perfect blend of woman. She's funny, I experienced a woman on camera and off camera. I spent more time with her off camera than on camera and I just grew to fall in love with her. I think she has this enormous heart and she's so smart.

I don't shy away from brilliant women. I enjoy them the most and I love to surround myself with them because I don't think you can get better by surrounding yourself with weaker. So I love to be around strong women and I saw her as my competition in this show and I couldn't wait to be around her every day to see what we could come up with next.

Arsenio Hall:
I actually have to agree with Aubrey about Lisa. I got to work with her, not as long and I didn't have as personal a relationship with her as Aubrey does, but I have to agree with a lot of things she said. Lisa Lampanelli is a whole lot of woman. My second favorite female on the show is probably Clay. No, my favorite female is Dayana because Dayana is very special in her own way and I really love her.

Clay Aiken:
I liked Aubrey's answer of pulling people in from the past. Holly Robinson Peete was someone who I watched on the show and really admired in seasons past. As far as learning from people on this show I have to say honestly it's hard to be around Penn Jillette and not learn something. Sometimes it's hard to be around Penn Jillette independent but at the same time it's hard to be around Penn Jillette and not learn something. He is a brilliant mind in every situation. Regardless of our personal relationship he is a genius. There is really no other way to describe him than just how intelligent he is. And though I wasn't always a sponge for the information he had to give, he definitely has a lot to impart.

Question:
Mr. Trump, were you surprised with what you heard from John and Marlee about the other contestants? You said that it was your choice. Did they choose someone else?

Donald Trump:
No I think that they were pretty straightforward. They respected all three that you have here, otherwise they wouldn't be here. They had some negatives to say but they had a lot of respect for the three that we have right now on the phone. I was surprised maybe at how tough John Rich was. He was pretty tough. But they really had a lot of respect for the three people that are on the phone and I'm not surprised by that.

Question:
Clay and Arsenio given all that happened throughout the season, how do you guys feel about how Aubrey forced you guys to raise your game?

Arsenio Hall:
You can never be angry at someone who forces you to raise your game to quote you. You can't be mad. I think if you talk to great athletes like take for instance Magic Johnson whose foundation I played for. Magic Johnson absolutely loved and hated Larry Bird for exactly the concept you are speaking of.

Clay Aiken:
I don't think you could say it any better than that. Aubrey is freakishly intelligent. She probably is one of the smartest people on the show and she does. Aubrey and I have even talked since the taping has finished about how in many ways I think a lot of us, especially me, felt threatened by her because she was just that good.

And I think for so many people on the show we knew from the beginning that she was going to be the toughest competition. We knew from the very beginning that she was the one we had to beat. And so I agree with Arsenio completely that Aubrey is someone who came day one and planned on winning and she worked it all the way through.

Arsenio Hall:
And here we are.

Clay Aiken:
She really became the person to beat from day one.

Question:
Aubrey, can you talk about leaving the show for a moment and why you decided to return?

Aubrey O'Day:
I walked away from the show because I was put in a situation that was uncomfortable and unfamiliar in regards to this specific show. So sometimes it's best to walk away from something because you can never take your words back. And once you have said them, for me apologies are a difficult thing in life because I'm an actions speak louder than words type of girl and it's easy to apologize but it's much harder to show that you're sorry.

So I think that for me I always try to if I don't have the best solution at hand right away to walk away and find what will work for me. I think the one thing I've had in this industry consistently is the ability to go to sleep at night and not hate myself. I don't know that very many people in this industry are able to do that. So the one consistent thing whether I get fired by Diddy or fired by Trump or have things go my way or not go my way, I want to be able to go to bed at night and love who I am. So sometimes that means walking away before coming back or responding.

Question:
It is Celebrity Apprentice tradition that people in the past come back and you work with a little bit of a team. So if you guys make it to the final two, is there one person you want on your team from this season more than anybody else and why?

Aubrey O'Day:
I can say the one person I would want on my team hands down is Lisa Lampanelli. And then also I would like to have Dayana Mendoza on my team because I got the chance to work with her in the beginning and I understand her much better after watching this season and I would love to have the chance to work with her again.

Arsenio Hall:
You know who I would love to work with? Penn Jillette. I kind of idolize the guy, always have. I was a magician as a kid so Penn and I had a lot of cool things to talk about throughout our down time in the van. And I would love to work with him because he does so much, he gives you so much when it comes to our specific situation.

Clay Aiken:
I agree with Arsenio on Penn which I think would surprise a lot of people but he is a brilliant mind. And then I think I want to arm wrestle Aubrey for Lisa because since I got a chance to work with her in the last few tasks I really have a great deal of respect for Lisa. She plays the game very well and very toughly but she is very brilliant. And so I may have to fight both of them for those two people.

Arsenio Hall:
I would love to work with Paul again because you never know when you're going to need a motorcycle. So I just want to put that in there.

Question:
What made you choose your charities and what is the one thing you want everybody to know about them?

Aubrey O'Day:
My charity is GLSEN which is the gay, lesbian, and straight education network. And I have worked with so many charities over the years in traveling around the world and it's such a difficult choice. I would say out of all the choices I had to make on Celebrity Apprentice, choosing my charity was the most difficult because there are so many people that are in need and there are so many people that could benefit from the outcomes of the tasks and the final presentation.

So I really chose GLSEN because they do so many wonderful things but more importantly they're not as big of an organization but the thing that they represent is huge and very relevant now amongst society. So I wanted to be able to give them possibly a bigger name platform representation through Celebrity Apprentice.

Arsenio Hall:
My charity is the Magic Johnson Foundation. I've been involved with it for 20 years, almost 21 years. I'm sure everybody knows how I first got involved in it. It was something that Irvin wanted to do when he announced himself HIV positive and I was on the ground floor of that. So it made this show perfect because it's something that I really love. And the Fidel Castro baseball camp, I actually thought Aubrey would take that.

Clay Aiken:
I was a special ed teacher before I went on Idol and a lot of the kids who I taught during the school year and then I ran a summer camp during the summer for the YMCA. And when I would get there in the summer a lot of the kids who I taught during the school year were not allowed to come to the summer camp, were not able to come to the summer camp because summer camps, after school programs don't necessarily have the resources and the materials and the education and the training for staff in order to work with kids with disabilities.

And that frustrated me so I started the organization that I'm playing for, it's called the National Inclusion Project. And we train extracurricular activities, after school programs, summer camps, soccer camps, recreational activities that don't usually have the ability to include kids with disabilities. We provide them resources and training and whatever they need in order to be an inclusive environment. Because kids with disabilities, they know when they're being left out and it's not fair to them.

And so it's something that is kind of a crossroads of my life before I started being a ???celebrity??? and now with this new job, I get a chance to kind of still have access and still do the types of work that I did before. And so that's why I am playing for the National Inclusion Project. And on behalf of all of us, thank you for asking about that because I know all three of us wanted to talk about our charities.

Question:
Mr. Trump, what stood out for you most this season?

Donald Trump:
I have just enjoyed getting to know all the people on the show. They have been great. You look at the three people have been very smart, that's how they made it. You had a lot of smart people on this show and you have three very smart ones left. So I really enjoyed that, getting to know everybody. And I have throughout the seasons as you probably saw the other night, we were number one in the 10:00 hour by 59% over the second highest rated show. We were 59% higher than the second highest rated show which is an amazing honor.

So it continues to do great. It's going to be great for these three and frankly it's going to be great for a lot of the other contestants. You look at so many of the others have done so well with the show. I don't think anybody has done poorly with it actually. But it has been an amazing show. And I think the three people that are on will attest that they were very well known before but now they are really well known and I think it's going to be great for their careers. And for almost everybody. I can't say everybody because some people maybe didn't do so well but for almost everybody on the show we like to keep it that way as much as possible.

Question:
Clay what has been the reaction from the public from being on Celebrity Apprentice?

Clay Aiken:
It has really been quite positive. First of all I think apparently somewhere along in my life I set a very low standard to myself because everybody seems to be impressed that I can string three words into a sentence and three sentences into a paragraph. And so I'm having a little bit of surprise. But as Mr. Trump was mentioning, it really is kind of surprising to see the number of people who come up to me on the street or out in public now.

I have done, I mean, I've done TV stuff, I've done Broadway, I've done several things since Idol and not since Idol has there been as much interest in what I'm doing as there has been since the show has been airing. So it reaches a whole bunch of people. And for me I guess that's a positive thing because before the show people thought I was stupid apparently.

Question:
Aubrey, your single is coming out and you have a new album dropping shortly. Could you talk a little bit about the bullying experiences that you have had and why that motivated you to go with GLESN?

Aubrey O'Day:
First of all I was bullied throughout school. I had to switch three times to different schools and prior to that I was home schooled because I was traveling so much with singing. I never quite adjusted and I never quite found my niche. Not until much later in college did I ever feel comfortable and accepted and safe.

But for the majority of my childhood I would say it was very difficult. I was scared to go to school every day. I sometimes would not go to certain classes and go hide because I was scared. Can you imagine me scared? I mean, it's like the opposite of what I am now. But on my worst days I remember like all the kids were coming after me and I hid in like a dryer in the home ec room and I remember like counting the divots inside the dryer. And it's still like a very vivid memory that I have of my childhood. And I hear it consistently so much among really big celebrities, also really big celebrity women. A lot of the time, I mean, from Christina Aguilera to many others.

It has been something that I think when you stand out and when you know you stand out, that makes people feel uncomfortable and especially people that aren't comfortable in their own skin and I was victim to those people. And unfortunately the majority of people are those people. So I think that when you fall victim to that it is very difficult to just get an education, I mean, let alone learn like basic social principles of like how to interact with people.

So I really find this near and dear to my heart, this charity, and I think a lot in my career I've been the underdog and been probably unappreciated or unexpected. And I continue to prove everyone wrong always which I love. And I love doing it for all the underdogs out there because I can say this without any hesitation - an extremely efficient example of how you can turn everything around in your favor.

Question:
Could you all talk about how your opinion of anyone may have changed from watching the interviews in the board room?

Arsenio Hall:
I thought Ivanka would be nicer.

Clay Aiken:
She could not be nicer. I'll just jump in here. I think for the most part we all know that we're going on a show where we are going to be interviewed and we're going to have people trying to get salacious stuff from us. I think that is part of the game, it's part of the process. I have watched episodes when I just knew someone was going to say something nasty about me, I felt it coming. And when it happens you just go Aubrey, you need to shut your mouth Aubrey. But you realize it's part of what the show is about and we all do it at some point. And I guess that's the final word on that.

Question:
Obviously emotions have been extremely high this season. How difficult was it to leave behind what happened in the board room and while filming the show while you guys went and fulfilled your other endeavors?

Aubrey O'Day:
I think it was much more difficult watching the show than being on the show. I actually had a lot of fun filming the show and I felt challenged and almost sometimes like it was too easy or expected it to be harder. Watching the show is an entirely different process and I would say much more difficult for me. And I think that the majority of what I learned from Celebrity Apprentice and why I believe that it was put in my life was to learn from actually watching it and be able to find peace or happiness in the things that are the bad things that are said or the struggles of how people interpret things, etc.

So I think that you get angry, you pace, I mean, I definitely paced back and forth and had a few choice words. And then you either move on and become happy and peaceful and forgive yourself and other people or I guess stay angry but I don't think that's a smart choice and I am assuming that the smart people will do that.

Arsenio Hall:
As much attention as Aubrey and my battles have gotten, I agree with her answer exactly so I would like to use her answer.

Clay Aiken:
I think the way I heard it was able to step away from it and do our own endeavors. And I want to clarify that we didn't get to step away from anything during the process. We were literally there for 17 hours a day 6 days a week. I know we got Sunday off but I usually slept.

Arsenio Hall:
To do laundry.

Clay Aiken:
Yes I slept until 3:00, went to Whole Foods for 30 minutes, and came back and went to bed again on Sundays. I mean, we were completely busy. To that interpreting it another way what Aubrey says is right. It's a lot harder to watch it because I think when you're on the show and you're doing the tasks you end up being so deeply invested in what you're doing that you don't have time for all the other stuff.

And when I'm sitting at home and watching it I am able to get more stressed about it even though I find I get more stressed watching it just because even though I know what's happening just because I think it's the first time that my brain was able to relax enough to really pay attention. When you're on the show you're so focused on winning this task, winning this competition, that you don't really get to focus on the stress and the drama. I get home and I realize holy crap, I don't remember yelling at Dayana but it happened.

Question:
Mr. Trump, throughout the season you've been very complimentary of all of the aspiring Celebrity Apprentices. Do you think that there was anything specific that set them apart from previous seasons?

Donald Trump:
Other seasons have been pretty violent and vicious also. If you look at Gary Busey and Meat Loaf that was a pretty famous clip. That was like the clip of the year. That was all over the place for a long period of time when they went crazy. I've heard recently that this is sort of the one with the most anger and hatred. But actually if you look back at some of the others, Joan Rivers who really was a really great card player. You had a lot of angst with other of the contestants.

But I think this group was a very smart group. Forgetting about the anger, because there was anger in all of them, but I think this was a very smart group overall and I think it came out that way. And I'm happy for that and I think a lot of people learned lessons. The reason I originally did this was to teach people a little bit about business. And Forbes Magazine just came out with a great story, it was just put on my desk, Celebrity Apprentice, TV's Lone Voice Trumpeting Business and it's a great story about the Celebrity Apprentice and that it represents so much. It just came out like two minutes ago by Gary Shapiro.

And there's a lot of truth to that and that's why I originally did it as an educational thing. I didn't know it was going to become such a success to be honest with you. In fact I assume that a lot of people thought it wouldn't be a success and it would be a one-time wonder. But so I am I think this has been a great season but I think we've had other great seasons also. But this has been a very smart cast.

Question:
Mr. Trump, has there ever been a situation on the show where you have requested to view footage in order to confirm if a contestant was telling the truth or not about something?

Donald Trump:
Yes a couple of times. Not on this particular show but a couple of times over the past, either I'd do it or I'd have people do it. Because I do like giving the right answer and coming up with the right judgment. So there have been a couple of times over the seasons, yes.

Question:
Is there a specific situation that you can remember that you can tell us about?

Donald Trump:
I don't know I would want to necessarily tell you. It sort of confirmed my opinion of a couple of incidences that took place. And by confirmation I felt a little bit better about my decision.

Question:
Mr. Trump, have you seen any of the new seasons of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and does Teresa remind you at all of the housewives that you know?

Donald Trump:
I think Teresa has been terrific. And she took a lot of hard hits from everybody including the three people that we're talking to right now. But I think she has been terrific. She is a very hard worker. I think you can all chime in on this but she is a hard worker, she's a very good mother. Her family was very important to her and any calls were made to the family and that's the way it should be.

But I think she has been terrific on the show. And I can't compare her to how she is on Real Housewives. From what I understand she is probably a little wilder on Real Housewives but that's because we've had so many wild contestants to compete with here that you don't see it as much. But I really do think she has been really a terrific asset to the show and helped make this particular series very successful.

Question:
Does she compare much at all to any other housewives that you might know?

Donald Trump:
The only housewives I know are mine.

Question:
Does she compare to them?

Donald Trump:
How does she compare to Melania, now that's an interesting question. I don't like to make comparisons, I don't like to make comparisons. That's a comparison that can only get me into a lot of trouble. But honestly I think she is a terrific woman and a terrific person with a lovely family.

Question:
Mr. Trump, how do you decide what products to represent on your show?

Donald Trump:
They come to us. We have a lot of sponsors that really want to be on the show. We've had everybody from General Motors to Procter & Gamble to everybody and we have amazing sponsors. And frankly at great cost, NBC, the only reason why we have somewhere we go to the selling of hot dogs or the selling of lemonade a little bit is that NBC really wants to do some shows without a sponsor.

And if you remember season one with Amarosa and the whole group and that became that was the number one show of the week many, many times. And at that time we had no sponsors because everybody assumed the show wouldn't work and nobody wanted to be a sponsor of a show and then it went on and I guess it started at number ten and then it went to number one and it was an amazing experience. But and then on season two we had tremendous sponsors.

They wanted to really have some open slots where we could go back to the selling of hot dogs, the selling of lemonade and all. I'm not sure I agree or disagree but that's a very costly thing to do. But we have many sponsors for every evening. We can only take one as you know. But the sponsors that we have had I think overall have been very good sponsors. We have turned down some because it would be inappropriate or because we didn't think it would be very good for the show but for the most part the sponsors really come to us, we don't go to them. It's really easy for us to get sponsors. You know, if you look at our 18 to 49, especially in that last hour during the board room, it's so high that it's very easy to get sponsors.

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