'Celebrity Apprentice': Marilu Henner on Being Fired and Her Biggest Regret
The actress talks to THR about what she wishes she'd done differently as project manager in this week's episode.
And then there were four.
Marilu Henner became the latest celebrity fired by Donald Trump on this week's All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.
The actress was project manager in a task that asked the teams to throw a party in one of the luxury suites at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn to promote Foxwoods Resorts.
Her team -- which also included Trace Adkins and Lil' Jon -- designed a bash centered around a "king" theme, but the Foxwoods execs ultimately preferred the "jokers"-themed bash thrown by the Lisa Rinna-led group (which also included Penn Jillette).
Henner -- who has Highly Superior Auto-Biographical Memory, or H-SAM -- talked to The Hollywood Reporter about what she wishes she'd done differently, whether she harbors any bad feelings toward her teammates and if she'd go back on the show a third time.
The Hollywood Reporter: Were you surprised you were the person who was fired in this week's episode?
Marilu Henner: This is the truth. … You get a sense, if you've played the game so many times, you get a sense of which way the wind is blowing, and I felt like some of these tasks you feel like, "Wow, everything's going our way." The Australian Gold task is a perfect example. Things just started to line up really well for us; it was Trace's task. Even though we were hindered by Hurricane Sandy, things just started falling into place, and you could just feel like, "Oh, this one is blessed." With this one, we were more or less cursed, and it just felt like we were going south with each decision, so you know, was I surprised? No. I was project manager, so I expected that. Was I disappointed? Oh sure, because I really wanted to play to the end. Actually you know what I really wanted more than anything else -- I mean, of course, you always want to play until the end -- but more than anything else, I wanted to be part of the interviews. I love the whole idea of coming down to final four and getting interviewed, and that to me seems very exciting. … I just want to go on the record right now: I love this game. I love, love, love, love, love it. It's so much fun to play. ... I see it as extremely challenging, and it really identifies certain things about your life and your skill set and the way you work with people, and it's always a surprise what you learn the people you relate to, and just the personal challenge of getting a task and trying to figure out how you can apply yourself that day and what you know and how can you help your project manager and things like that. So I loved it. … I love this game. I was proud to play for Alzheimer's Association and I have no bad feelings whatsoever, not even in any direction for anyone. I adore Trace, I adore Lil Jon. I mean I'm really close to Trace. It's funny because he and I, we spar with each other like exes … like family, like we've known each other a long time. I'm not afraid to be honest with him, and he's not afraid to be honest with me. So it's kind of fun to watch that.
THR: So no hard feelings about what happened in the boardroom then?
Henner: No, what happens in the boardroom, you know…. Before the final, final boardroom, when [Trump] said, "Penn turn off your TV," he said to me, "Fight for your life because I don't know what I'm gonna do yet." So I felt like I better fight-fight-fight.
THR: You did make it farther this time than the first time around.
Henner: I did. I made it through task eight [on the first celebrity edition in 2008] and this time through task 10. And you saw the previews, so you know I come back, right?
THR: Yes, I did, and I can't wait to see what happens and who Trump picks as the final two. You never know how he's going to go. But I know you're not allowed to talk about it! Is there anything you wish you'd done differently in the challenge?
Henner: I had trouble ordering the furniture online, and I wish that I had gotten better furniture from the website, but I guess that I just didn't see what it was because we had a really tough day that day because of the blizzard. And so when I was ordering stuff, I didn't see what I was looking for, so I just thought, "OK, maybe I'll just go with the king theme." I was really trying to go originally for like a James Bond kind of thing. … I wish I'd done the décor better, because I'm a real party planner … and I was really disappointed Lil Jon could not get us the DJ stuff because I really thought he was going to add this kind of really cool beat sort of background and give the party a pulse. Everybody keeps pointing a finger [at her decision to include a chessboard at the party]. … And what's funny is that I panicked because I thought, "Oh my gosh, one of the adjectives describing the king is 'intellectual' and another one was 'gentlemanly,'" and I thought, "OK, king gentleman, intelligent," and I thought "Oh!" and it turns out two blocks away was this huge chess thing, this chess, like, center. And so that 's why I thought, "OK, we'll have that." You know, you go into modern hotels now, there's a chess set that's in the lobby. To me it [added] sort of an interesting kind of intelligent, gentlemanly vibe that would be for a king. So I guess I made the wrong decision there. But as I keep saying all day, if I'm going to go down in flames because of chess, better chess than a mechanical dog -- in my opinion.
THR: Did Trace and Lil Jon really not know you were planning the chessboard, or was that just a miscommunication?
Henner: Our suite was arranged in such a way, and we were on the phone so much. In fact, I'm so, so sorry that one of the phone calls you didn't see was Trace called Blake Shelton and I got on the phone with him, and we had such a fun conversation, and it was recorded you know because we always have to have everybody on speaker. And I also called Fran Drescher … and said, "Can you help me? Are you in town? What's going on?" because I kept thinking, "OK, I'm in New York, King, all the sights …" I tried to get Kevin James -- you know, The King of Queens. … We were racking our brains. we made a lot of phone calls that day. Debi Mazar, she was going to come at one point through Fran. I don't think we ever reached her, but Fran was trying to help me get Debi. There were so many phone calls going on, and one of the phone calls about chess happened in a room where the cameras … were on Trace and Lil Jon and I was in the other section on the phone with the chess people. …. [And] Trace was talking about handmaidens. I had these beautiful kind of handmaiden outfits that were going to show up. FedEx could not deliver them because of the blizzard. We had a chef lined up that was gonna come. He couldn’t make it because of the blizzard. So, little things -- I kept saying we were cursed in certain ways -- just because of fate and stuff like that. Did the party turn out as well as I had hoped? No, no, of course not. I know how that party should look and feel. It didn't have a beat, a pulse, in terms of the music. It didn't have quite the decor that I wanted or was hoping to have. And some of the little touches were not solid enough, and I guess people didn't like idea of chess. It's OK.
THR: You said you really love this game, so would you go back a third time if they asked you?
Henner: In a second. I'm upset I can't play every year. I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. Because I just feel like every day you find out like [gasps], "What can I do?" The South African challenge. I saw that logo for South African tourism and I went, "Oh my god, I'm all over this, I have an idea for a brochure." And I loved that brochure. The BioSilk, I thought, "OK, we're going to do it like it's a movie premiere, and BioSilk is our star, and we're gonna have these three-minute makeovers inside the glass truck." It's like, every day, what can we do? What can we figure out? I guess because I have a lot of energy or something, my brain does fire up on all cylinders. And I think that sometimes it might be too much for other people, but it's never too much for me -- or my husband.
THR: Can you talk a little bit about what else you're working on now?
Henner: Well I'm on the finale of Two and a Half Men, that's on this Thursday. I can't wait to see it -- it should be a lot of fun. I play Ashton Kutcher's love interest. It's going to be a blast. I have two episodes I'm on of The Glades, the A&E series. I have a new radio show starting May 13, 5 until 8 in the morning, it's on Genesis Communications Network, GCN, very excited about that. So you can find me through them, live and streaming and also archived. And my book, Total Memory Makeover, has just come out in paperback. It was a New York Times best-selling book last year, and it's out now in paperback.