Today NBC announced the cast for the third season of Celebrity Apprentice, a group with the usual of mix of "Hey it's that guy!" and "Wait, who?" Check out the list below.
Holly Robinson Peete, actress and star Hangin' With Mr. Cooper and 21 Jump Street
Summer Sanders, Olympic gold medalist swimmer
Cyndi Lauper, legendary "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" singer
Sharon Osbourne, star of The Osbournes and judge on America's Got Talent
Maria Kanellis, WWE professional wrestler
Darryl Strawberry, four-time World Series winning baseball player
Michael Johnson, Olympic gold medalist track runner
Goldberg, WCW and WWE professional wrestler
Rod Blagojevich, former Governor of Illinois
Bret Michaels. Poison singer and star of Rock of Love
Curtis Stone, Australian celebrity chef
Carol Leifer, stand-up comedian
Selita Ebanks, supermodel
Sinbad, stand-up comedian
When NBC gathered the entire cast of for a press conference last fall, it was the day before the third season was set to begin, and spirits were running high. Donald Trump made sure to compliment Sharon Osbourne's daughter, Kelly's, performance on Dancing With the Stars while boasting "this cast blows Dancing With the Stars away. Cyndi Lauper jokingly volunteered to be the villain and call upon Mayor Bloomberg for help winning the contest if she needed it, Bret Michaels admitted he was probably viewed as the season's underdog, and when one journalist admitted she didn't recognize three people on the stage, Olympic track star Michael Johnson raised his hand and said "Hi, I'm Michael."
Of course, when the show starts airing on March 14, we can expect a whole lot of those good vibes to have faded. Even when we had just been introduced to the new cast-- and many of them had met each other for the first time backstage, as when former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich introduced himself to Osbourne and she called him "a naughty boy"-- the questions were all about the drama to come. Sinbad joked that he was already sizing people up, "pick the one you think is weak, put something in their drink." He later noted that the cuddly warm feelings followed by at-your-throat drama is just "your average Hollywood set." Darryl Strawberry, who won the World Series in 1986 as a player for the Mets, said that history would likely repeat itself: "The '86 Mets, we hated each other and we loved each other at the same time. I think that's going to be the case [on the show] too." Bret Michaels, no stranger to reality TV drama, said it simply: "It's going to get fugly at some point."
For many of us reporters gathered there, it was a chance to ask the celebrities the question we all ask ourselves when watching reality TV back at home-- Why are you even on this show? Blagojevich, who has maintained his innocence ever since leaving office in late 2008, said the show won't be the opportunity to clear his name-- "a court of law will be"-- but instead saw it as a chance to learn from a guy who had been through even more tough stuff: Donald Trump. "I've had some troubles, I'll overcome them. But I've never been millions of dollars in debt and become a billionaire over and over like Donald Trump."
Sinbad had a simple answer for why he did the show: "It's cheaper than rehab." Michaels admitted that when he went into Rock of Love, "I had no clue what I was doing," but that Celebrity Apprentice would be a chance to learn from the other competitors and "show another side" of himself. Summer Sanders, the Olympic-winning swimmer, had a more serious answer that a lot of other contestants reflected: "It came down to the charity for me. To have that opportunity to introduce my charity to the world was the reason I chose it."
Of course, being that he's always the star of the show, Trump answered most of the questions during the press conference, and below is a selection of his answers. As the show gets closer to the airdate we'll be running some of my one-on-one interviews with the contestants, including Bret Michaels and Rod Blagojevich. We still don't know exactly how all that promised drama will play out, but I know that all the compliments and warm feelings you see in these interviews will most definitely have faded in the face of cold, hard competition.
Who will be the big breakout stars in this group?
Trump: I think we have a lot of potential stars. They're all stars in their own right. You never know how people are going to react. Our governor, say what you want, this man has tremendous courage, tremendous guts. People fold up like an umbrella, and he's out there doing his thing.
Now that you've had this show going for two years, is there a certain chemistry or formula that you guys follow based on the first two seasons?
Trump: We stated just as The Apprentice and did tremendously. Then NBC came up to me and Mark Burnett and said, "What about doing a celebrity version?" I like it because it was a little more interesting for me. I liked it just on a personal basis. The first season was a little bit tough casting because nobody knew what to expect. This season was by far the easiest. For every slot we had at least five or six people who wanted to be on. If you look at what's happened withTrace Adkins, who came in second, is the number one country singer right now. In all fairness, nobody had ever heard of him before The Apprentice. You look at Joan Rivers, who's the hottest thing out there right now in terms of comedians.
Have you ever fired anyone and regretted it?
Trump: I think so. I don't want to get into it exactly. I had one person who ended up getting a great job [after the show]. She came from nothing, nowhere. The only thing she didn't mention was the fact that she did The Apprentice. The nice part is someone like Trace or Piers [Morgan], they all respected what happened to them because of The Apprentice. A couple of people who really hit big after The Apprentice didn't give The Apprentice credit, and I don't like that crap.
Is it strange for everyone to be getting along now knowing they'll hate each other in a few months?
Trump: I used to say it might not happen. It will. Some of you-- Darryl [everyone laughs]-- some of you will just not like each other. They're living very close together. They have 38 cameras on them at the beginning, and after a period of time they forget that there are any cameras. That's an amazing thing and I'm surprised it happens.
Will there be a villain this time?
Trump: It doesn't always happen. It certainly happened last season, between Melissa and Joan and Annie. I think it's going to be very interesting. There will probably be a villain or two or three.