Penn Jillette on 'Celebrity Apprentice': It's TV's 'Most Honest' Reality Show (Video)
The cast of the "all stars" edition also reveals at TCA that Trace Adkins changed the show "as we know it," and Gary Busey somehow compares his experience to a macaques monkey.
Penn Jillette has high praise for The Celebrity Apprentice.
"It's the most honest show I've ever heard about in reality TV," he said Sunday during NBC's portion of the winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif.
Jillette, who is one of several returning contestants on the upcoming "all stars" edition of the show, says the Donald Trump-hosted competition series is "run with more integrity and is more straightforward than I've ever seen. They are very careful not to take quotes out of context. I've never seen or heard an example of disingenuous editing of taking things out of context."
This season, executive producer Page Feldman said, the returning competitors raised a total of $3 million -- "and of that, about $30 for charity," quipped Jillette. In fact, many of the stars on the Apprentice panel cited the charity aspect as the reason for their return.
Trace Adkins, who was the runner-up on his season, relayed a story about how the Red Cross came to his aid when his house burned down. He said he didn't realize the organization offered such services, and so after a month or so of mulling it over, he decided to return and play for that charity.
"My first time on Celebrity Apprentice was one of the most stressful periods of my adult life," the country singer said. "I didn't want to do it again, so it took my house burning down to get me to do it."
Among the other revelations of the upcoming season, which debuts March 3:
-- Omarosa and Marilu Henner both called Adkins a "game changer." Omarosa added: "He changed The Apprentice as we know it -- how we play the game and how they'll have to approach tasks in future seasons."
-- Lisa Rinna, who struggled during her original season, "also said I'd never come back and do the show again because I failed so miserably the first time," but her daughter convinced her to take another shot.
-- This season, there are blowups between Omarosa and LaToya Jackson; Rinna and Gary Busey; and "my conflicts with Clay Aiken continued," Jillette joked. Asked if any animosity continues after the show ends, Omarosa said, "There's a rule called 'Leave it in the boardroom.'" Added Rinna, "I didn't learn that." Jillette called the idea that all conflicts stay in the boardroom "nonsense."
-- Omarosa also once again butts heads with Piers Morgan, the first Celebrity Apprentice winner who returns as an adviser to Trump. "He said he came back this season to torture me, and that's what he did, episode after episode," she said, adding: "He was so nasty; I'm not exaggerating." Past winners Joan Rivers and John Rich also return to advise Trump.
-- Stephen Baldwin says the only person he trusted was Adkins, even though he has known Rinna and Henner for years. "I trusted no one. I love Lisa and Marilu, but when [someone] is being nice to you, she's played the game before, is she just being nice because she's going to knife you in the back five minutes later?" Added Omarosa: "He played a mind game. He came in on day one and you knew his mind was turning and he was strategizing. Stephen Baldwin will stab you in the front as opposed to the back."
--Rapper Lil Jon has found new fans in a surprising demo since his first time on the show. "Grandmamas like me," he said. "I can't go nowhere without a 70-year-old woman coming up to me saying, 'You did good on The Apprentice.'" Joked Adkins: "Old ladies are hot for me too now."
--What is being on the show like? Busey -- who said he returned to compete again because he "didn't have anything else to do" -- gave a typically entertaining and confusing answer, comparing it to a "macaques monkey." "It's one of the most popular zoo monkeys," he said. "It's like a little child with hair all over it. You just don't look it in they eye, or it'll think you're invading its territory." The gist of the story? "I can't tell you what's it's like to be on Celebrity Apprentice."
Watch a preview of the upcoming season below.