“All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” premieres on NBC on March 3, 2013, at 9 p.m. EST/PST. To promote the show, contestant Dee Snider (lead singer of Twisted Sister) met with journalists on Feb. 27, 2013, at Trump Tower in New York City, where much of the show is filmed. “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” features 14 previous “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants competing to win money for their selected charities. The winner gets a grand prize of $250,000 for his or her charity. Here is what Snider said when I caught up with him at this “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” press event.
A lot of “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants say that in order to win, you need a lot of rich friends who can donate to the fundraising challenges. Do you agree or not?
If you watch the seasons, there are two challenges each year that are fundraisers and they are about who raises the most money. So it helps to have rich friends. But I don’t have rich friends. And I won in the previous season one of the challenges. [I won] $14, but I still won. A win is a win. We’ll take what we can get. And it’s tough. If you’ve got money, it helps, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
You’ve been involved in Broadway shows. Will we see any of that or your outside music incorporated into “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice”?
Last season, the March of Dimes was my charity. This season, my charity is Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS. I’ve developed a connection to the Broadway community and a fondness for them and a realization for this very important cause out there. And I brought that to that, which was a very big thing.
As far as the Broadway thing, [“Celebrity Apprentice”] is always making us do shows, plays. Every year, there are different challenges, so all these things come into play. I don’t know if I’ll be singing “The Man of La Mancha” on this show.
You did a duet with Debbie Gibson in the previous “Celebrity Apprentice” season. Will you be doing any duets for “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice”?
I can’t tell you. You’ll have to wait and see.
Why did you want to do “Celebrity Apprentice” again?
I am really a glutton for punishment. Like every contestant, I’ve been told, I said no. And then everybody in my family, my advisers said, “You’ve got to do it.” The Trumps are incredibly gracious, but it’s very challenging. It’s stressful. It’s 16 hours a day, six days a week. And that’s the men. The women are getting up two or three early to do hair and makeup …
You don’t get your hair done?
I’ve got my own. I’ve got my glue in my room. The women are operating on two or three hours of sleep, six days a week. And so when you see them coming apart at the seams, and when you throw in lack of sleep and not eating and the stress and the pressure, it is tough. So why did I come back? Because the official answer is, “I had more to show people.” I was set for a marathon last time, and I ran a half-marathon. The unofficial reason is my wife and my kids and my agents and manager said I should do it.
We saw in 2011 that Gary Busey and Meat Loaf had a huge argument. Who is the “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” contestant who has the biggest argument with Gary Busey?
I’m not allowed to say, but spoiler alert: You’ve got Omarosa, and you’ve got Gary Busey. They’re fairly volatile.
What else can people expect from “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice”
It’s on a different level. Right out of the gate, the men [versus] women thing is gone … because there are more men than women — which I think is good. It gets away from the catfighting and get down to “it’s a business thing.” There’s still fighting, but it’s not that insecurity base. I think Hillary Clinton said, “If women got along, we could take over the world.”
Omarosa is tough, but it’s not a woman-on-woman thing. It’s person-on-person thing, which I think there is more of that. There’s still plenty of energy and excitement and conflict, but it’s more about business people getting down to it.
What did you learn the first “Celebrity Apprentice” that helped you better prepare for “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice”?
I don’t need a pair of underwear for every day I’m on the show. I was on a three-month show, and I brought almost a hundred pairs of underwear. And the first day I got there with my big bag of underwear and socks. And they said, “Laundry pickup is each morning.” And I said, “They have laundry?”
I’m used to being on tour, so I’ve got underwear for the rest of my life. I’m making a joke out of it, but it was a lot of that little stuff that was eliminated because you weren’t a freshman. Now you’re a sophomore or a junior, and you just learn. “OK, I’m comfortable on campus now. Now I’m ready to go to school.”
A lot of “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants say that sleep deprivation is a huge issue on the show. Can you talk about that some more?
It is a huge issue — for me, not so much, because I’m a professional guy. I also eat power bars and I’ve figured it out. But for a lot of people, they can’t get enough sleep, especially for the women, because they’ve got hair and makeup. So I get my seven hours [of sleep] every night. I’d get back to the hotel, eat a plate of pasta, fall asleep, wake up in seven hours, and I’m pretty good.
The girls, they always bring their homework home with them, for some reason. The men never do. And then they get up three hours before the men and literally do hair and makeup, because they’ve got to be beautiful. Fair enough, but that really wears on you when you’ve only got four hours of sleep a night.
Don’t the men get their hair and makeup done too?
Yes, we all do, but for me, I always say that you can’t polish a turd.
Is it true that they cut off your use of the Internet and cell phones except during challenges?
That’s very big with the non-celebrities [in the non-celebrity version of “The Apprentice,” which ended in 2010]. That’s called “putting them on ice.” I experienced that with one show I did “Gone Country.” I was roommates with Bobby Brown. And they took away our Internet and phones and all that stuff. It was kind of a “Big Brother” kind of thing. And here [on “Celebrity Apprentice”], they kind of can’t get celebrities on the show if they tried to pull that one on us.
That makes sense, since your challenges sometimes involve fundraising by phone at all hours of the day and night.
Yeah, and they give us some rules: “Please, try to keep it on camera. We want the exchanges.” They encourage us to play by the rules. They don’t put us on ice.
How was the “Celebrity Apprentice” experience for you the second time compared to your first time?
It was more fun and it was more challenging. It was more fun because that freshman nervousness about not knowing the game was gone. It was more challenging because we were in a roomful of other people who also had been to the dance before. Everyone was past that. “OK, I know what we’re doing.”
And you’ll see that reflected right out of the gate with the first challenge [on “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice”]. There is something that happens that is so dramatic that it speaks volumes about how they’ve been there before. “Now I know how this works, and I’m just going to flip the script here.”
And it kind of surprised the producers and everybody, because nobody ever thought they would take that approach. Now that you know the game, there’s a lot more preparation, especially in the money that’s raised. Wait until you see the money that’s raised!
Besides the “Celebrity Apprentice” season that you were on the first time, did you watch any other season of “The Celebrity Apprentice”?
Some of them. I didn’t do the homework in the way that I should’ve. I also learned from Season 1 that there’s a degree of over-preparation and over-thinking. And it’s better to be reactive, because they do change things. They can change the rules because we can figure out ways around the rules. Next year, they’re going to change the rules again. You can’t just collect [donation] checks. If everybody did that, it wouldn’t be much of a show.
Whenever reality shows do an all-star edition, anyone who has won on the show before is automatically a target by the other contestants. Was that the case with Bret Michaels, since he’s the only “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” contestant who has been a previous winner? Did the other contestants see him as the biggest threat?
I think for some people, yes. There are two schools. One school is, “I’m not going to try and take people out. You can only take yourself out anyway.” The other school of people have a game plan to figure out who’s going to be eliminated. They’re working it. And I think some people were gunning for Bret.
Some of the past “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants, such as Meat Loaf and Lisa Lampanelli, who often had tearful breakdowns on camera aren’t on “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.” Did you hear about why?
For a variety of reasons. I’ve heard that some people didn’t like the way they looked and how they came off. I think the producers didn’t like how some of the people behaved. I don’t know the answers. But I know some people didn’t like the way came across.
What’s next for you?
The band [Twisted Sister] goes out every summer and does a bunch of shows. I write screenplays. I wrote a musical that’s been optioned, and we’re developing it right now. It’s for Broadway. It’s a season musical called “A Very Twisted Christmas.”
I just finished a horror short that I’m going to be shooting this summer for festivals. And I’m working on a coming-of-age film. My son Cody is a young director. His latest film is “Fool’s Day,” which was just accepted at Tribeca. And we’re working on a coming-of-age film set on Long Island in the ‘70s, when I came of age. We’re deep into writing it right now.
Do you have any thoughts about who could be in the cast?
I don’t know yet. We’ll see. It’s about a time on South Shore, Long Island, that I lived in and experienced. I grew up in Baldwin and Freeport. My family moved to Massapequa after I moved out. They got a smaller house in Massapequa, which meant that I wasn’t coming home. That’s when you know you’re really out. You’re like, “Hey, what happened to my bedroom?” “Oh, we kind of don’t have one for you.”
For more info: "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" website
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