I'm very excited to be sharing with you some of my observations and memories from the frontline of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice! To say it was a crazy adventure is an understatement, because what you see on television is only a small portion of the footage that was shot of the ensuing madness. If you watched the first episode you already know what took place during the first task: how the teams were chosen, which team won and who was fired. If not, I suggest you watch it before reading this blog, because I will not be recapping the episode, but rather fleshing out what happened behind the scenes of some of the major themes and plot points.
ON YOUR MARK, GET SET...
Before the show officially starts and the first task is given you spend three days doing publicity. With eight men and six women playing the game, it was obvious that it wasn't going to be men vs. women as in past seasons, so you had no idea who your teammates might be. Instead of sharing too much information about strategies or aligning with anyone in particular, we all just got to enjoy each other as people. I was meeting quite a few of my cast mates for the first time, and I instantly fell in love with Bret Michaels, Lil Jon and Brande. I already knew Lisa, Omarosa, Stephen and, of course, my darling Trace, whom I was most excited to see. (Dennis Rodman was dressed in this crazy outfit, and you could tell he had a real spark for Claudia.) I was so glad it WASN'T going to be men vs. women, because I think it's a lot spicier when you mix it up. While everyone was looking around to see who the real competitors were going to be, I decided that Bret was definitely the one to watch out for because he's not only a former winner, he's also one of the most recognizable, and everywhere we went he got mobbed.
The first day of shooting is one of the most stressful because you've been building up to that day, and you know you're about to (hopefully!) spend the next four weeks working harder than you have in your entire life. It's also the starting gate for days filled with meals on the fly, little or no sleep and the potential for drama, because you don't really know how any of your cast mates will respond to any given circumstances.
Picking the team name is always fascinating, because you get to see how your teammates interact for the first time. It's a mini version of what's to come. We started throwing names around, and I suggested Phoenix, Encore and Lazarus - because it was our second time on the show - and Platinum, because we were All-Stars. As you saw in the show, Gary had his crazy suggestions, but Penn kept saying it should be Plan 9 based on the 1956 science fiction movie. (I'm still not sure why!) Finally our top picks were Plan 9 and Platinum, but when Steve Baldwin said, "Yeah, I like Plan B," thinking he had said Plan 9, Trace jumped on it immediately. We all liked Plan B, especially in light of what we knew about the game, so that's what it became. Later, Gary Busey shouted, "Plan B! Peace, Love, And Nothing But!"
Our first task involved running a meatball shop, and we had to have at least one original recipe. Lisa was very excited about a meatball recipe she had, so we used hers. Since I'm from the school of "Why do when you can overdo?" I suggested that we have five different types of meatballs including vegan, turkey, gluten-free, etc. Trace then cut me off with the funniest words I've ever heard uttered on Celebrity Apprentice, "I don't care if we serve shit in a box. This is all about the donors." He felt he'd rather have time for the donors, than run around like a bunch of crazy people. I thought he's probably right, because I instantly remembered the seventh task of our first season of Celebrity Apprentice when Trace was project manager and the task was about carriage rides through Central Park. Our team was Trace, Steve Baldwin, Tito Ortiz and I, and we not only filled our carriage rides with people, we gave each person a bottle of champagne and a rose. We had big signs everywhere, and everyone had an experience. The other team was Piers Morgan, Lennox Lewis, Carol Alt and Omarosa, and there was so much screaming and battling and name-calling, you could hear it down the block from our stand. All day their carriage rides went out with empty seats. After the task, our team got into the boardroom and thought for sure that we were victorious. But even with all the craziness, in-house fighting and fewer seats sold, the other team creamed us money-wise and won. When Trace decided it was all about the money and NOT the meatballs, I knew he was going to follow the winning business model. Trace definitely did his memory work on that one!
HOW THE MEATBALLS GOT THEIR NAME
Trace only wanted one recipe, and Lisa not only had a sure-fire recipe, her husband Harry Hamlin had a great tomato sauce to serve on the meatballs. I've worked in a kitchen before, so I know that when you send out food without sauce or gravy, you call it naked. I said, "We could serve the balls naked." But Lisa said, "What about Harry's sauce?" And I said, "Okay. Naked balls, or with Harry's sauce." Dee Snider laughed, so that's why we called them "Naked Balls with Harry Sauce."
GOING ON LIVE! WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL
Penn and I arrived backstage and found out that Team Power was being represented by Lil Jon and Bret who were completely decked out in aprons and chef hats, with placemats, menus, napkins, T-shirts and plates with logos on them. All Penn and I had was a Tupperware container full of naked meatballs and Harry's red sauce and two little cardboard boxes for serving our sample to Kelly and Michael. Trying to throw him off, I said to Bret, "Oh, we did vegan balls." And he started asking me questions. "How long have you been a vegan?" I said, "I've been eating like this for 33 years, no dairy." He said, "How come you're vegan?" And I said, "You can save five things by being a vegan: your body, your health, your pocketbook, the animals and the planet."
Then we went on camera, and Bret told Kelly that they had made her a veggie meatball with a meat substitute. And then he said that there are five things you can save by being a vegetarian and he repeated the list I had just told him! He and I started bantering back and forth on the set and I told him that he was embarrassing himself, but no one knew except the four of us that he had stolen my lines. We were laughing about what had gone on, but this is how it is on this show; so much goes on behind the scenes. I was outraged that Bret stole my lines, but then they never got past the cutting room floor, anyway.
BOARDROOM SEAT PLACEMENT
In this boardroom, I was seated next to Trace, and I could already tell from the OTF (On the Fly) interviews that the big story would be Trace's strategy in closing the store to the public. Another question constantly being asked was, "Who came up with the name?" Omarosa saw me before the boardroom and said, "Come on, Marilu. Naked Balls with Harry Sauce? Was that your idea? Donald's gonna hate that name." The thing about Celebrity Apprentice is that the game works on paranoia. Everyone is always trying to mess with everyone else, question everything you do, and you're always wondering, "Is someone targeting me?" It's crazy. You're sequestered away from your family, so your fellow players become the only people who share your reality, and their opinions seem more important than they would otherwise. It's nuts! What Omarosa said made me think, "Uh-oh. Kelly didn't like our name, and I could tell she liked their meatballs more because they were vegetarian." That made me worry even more, despite the fact that I had brought in $37, 000 for the task, the second highest on the team!
If you are a fan of the show you know that Trump always seizes on some aspect of the task and challenges the team to justify their choices. Since the name kept coming up in the pre-boardroom interviews, I knew that if we lost the task I could be in trouble, since I inadvertently came up with the name, and everyone "credited" me with it. That's how crazy you get. "Naked Balls with Harry's Sauce" was not the most elegant name, but at least it was a step up from "Shit in a Box!"