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NBC reveals 'The Celebrity Apprentice' cast, series to debut January 3


By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 11/19/2007 

NBC has revealed the identities of the 14 so-called celebrities who will be competing on The Celebrity Apprentice when the seventh season of Donald Trump's reality series debuts on Thursday, January 3 at 9PM ET/PT.

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"It's going to be hard for me to fire these people," Trump told reporters before The Celebrity Apprentice began production last month.  "We have 14 people -- they're great people, and very successful in different ways -- but I will say that we have had some problems.  We had over 125 celebrities -- I never knew they had so many celebrities -- and a lot of good people, and they were begging us to be on the show but we just couldn't do it; we couldn't take them, but we had so many people."

Given Trump's comments, one would think he had actually scored an impressive list of A-List celebrity talent.  However upon reviewing The Celebrity Apprentice's cast list, it becomes clear that like his earlier claims that Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were likely be part of the show's cast, Trump's latest comments are simply more false boasting.

The Celebrity Apprentice will feature a decidingly D-List roster comprised of country artist Trace Adkins; supermodel Carol Alt; actor and frequent celebrity reality show participant Stephen Baldwin; former Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci; 2005 Playboy Playmate of the Year Tiffany Fallon; Olympic softball player Jennie Finch; The Swan creator and producer Nely Galan; actress Marilu Henner; professional boxer Lennox Lewis; America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan; mixed martial arts fighter Tito Ortiz; former The Sopranos actor and Dancing with the Stars dropout Vincent Pastore; former KISS frontman and Gene Simmons Family Jewels star Gene Simmons; and The Apprentice first-season contestant and reality show retread Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.

Shortly after The Celebrity Apprentice was formally announced by NBC, The Donald had told The New York Post that, in addition to still-ongoing talks with Spears and Hilton, Jim Cramer, Carmen Electra, Jeff Gordon, Tony Hawk, Naomi Judd, George Foreman, Manigault-Stallworth, Danica Patrick, and Joan Rivers had all already committed to being part of the show's cast. 

However two days after Trump gushed about his "eye-popping" list of participants for the charity competition, his publicist was forced to publicly deny his boss' earlier claims.

"None of those names are confirmed or signed," Trump spokesman Jim Dowd told The Detroit Free Press.  "What ran in the (report) was speculation at this stage and not confirmed by NBC or by the producers."

But the real-estate mogul is apparently never one to admit defeat.

"So many people wanted to be on the show," Trump told reporters last month.  "The hardest thing we had [to do] was breaking it down to these 14, and we're really happy we have these 14."

Instead of vying for a job with The Donald, each of the 14 "celebrities" will be competing to raise over $1,000,000 in funds for their favorite charities by participating in various business-centered tasks held in New York City, the site of The Apprentice's first five editions. 

All of the celebrities' performances will still be judged in the boardroom by Trump; his two children Donald Jr. and Ivanka; as well as The Apprentice advisor George Ross.  In addition, the boardroom will include a "rotating seat" that will be filled by various leaders in the business community.

The celebrity left standing at the end of The Celebrity Apprentice's broadcast run will be crowned the first ever "Celebrity Apprentice" and will also have the opportunity to personally deliver a $250,000 bonus check to their respective charity.

"This will be the most exciting season of The Apprentice yet -- maybe even better than Season One. Our fourteen celebrity contestants are incredible individually, and as a group they will make The Celebrity Apprentice one of the hottest shows on television. I promise you a fantastic new season!" boasted Trump.

The Celebrity Apprentice will be the first The Apprentice installment to air in NBC's Thursdays at 9PM ET/PT time period since the Fall 2005 fourth edition that aired while the network was also airing The Apprentice: Martha Stewart on Wednesdays at 8PM ET/PT.

"We're back, and in our old time slot," said executive producer Mark Burnett.  "The series is epic and Donald is on fire!"

After both Fall 2005 The Apprentice editions sagged in the ratings, NBC moved the show to Mondays at 9PM ET/PT for its Spring 2006 Donald-led fifth edition.

NBC decided against airing a Fall 2006 edition of The Apprentice, and instead aired the show's sixth installment -- The Apprentice: Los Angeles -- as midseason primetime programming in the Sundays at 9PM ET/PT time period once the network's Sunday night coverage of the 2006-2007 NFL season concluded.

The Celebrity Apprentice was announced after a two-month public feud that began with NBC leaving the one-time smash-hit but now ratings-challenged reality series off its 2007-2008 schedule and Trump responding by publicly proclaiming that he was "moving on" and quitting the show.

Following Trump's statement, NBC reiterated it was undecided on what do with The Apprentice, at least until Ben Silverman -- a reality television producer who had previously worked with Burnett on NBC's The Restaurant in 2003 -- was suddenly named NBC's new programming chief. 

Shortly after taking NBC's programming reigns, Silverman asked Trump and Burnett for a one-week extension on the network's option to renew The Apprentice for a seventh season.  Trump and Burnett agreed to give NBC an additional week, and while the new deadline had passed without a formal announcement, the parties eventually announced plans for a celebrity The Apprentice edition.

According to Daily Variety, the idea of doing a celebrity The Apprentice edition originated with Silverman, who was impressed with "how well" a celebrity version of the show did in Britain.

(Photo credit Justin Stephens/NBC)

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