Celebrity Apprentice: Handicapping the odds of winning

While other media are content to simply reveal the cast list, at the Communities we go out on a limb and publish our pre-season odds picking the winner of Celebrity Apprentice Season 5. Photo: NBC Universal

SAN DIEGO, January 5, 2012 — Donald Trump may have political aspirations, but he knows where his bread and butter is.

Wednesday Trump announced the cast of the upcoming edition of “Celebrity Apprentice,” which premieres February 12 on NBC. It will be hard to out-crazy the previous season which included epic scenes between Nene Leaks (“Real Housewives of Atlanta”) and Star Jones, and the off the charts Gary Busey and surprisingly emotional Meat Loaf.

While other media are content to simply reveal the list, at the Communities we’re willing to go out on a limb and publish our pre-season odds as to the eventual winner.

We determined our odds on the following criteria, based on previous seasons and the characteristics common to previous winners.

Season 4 winner John Rich with Donald Trump. Associated Press.

1. Celebrities needs to be thick skinned.

Part of the fun of the show for the viewers and for Trump is encouraging the celebrity participants to trash talk each other, and call out the weaker performing members of each team. Celebrities who want to be “nice”and refuse to call out the underperforming members of the team are seen as weak by Trump and set themselves up to be “fired” from the show. Team members who are willing to throw each other under the bus when it’s warranted tend to fare better. Likewise, they have to be able to take it as well as dish it out. Last season this is what killed David Cassidy, Nene Leaks, and Dionne Warwick.

2. Celebrities need to play well with others.

While the celebrities compete as individuals, in the process they are working in teams and taking turns being project leaders. Every time a celeb takes the role of team leader, they put themselves on the line to earn big money for their charity if they are successful, or put their head on the chopping block to get fired if they lose. So the celebrities need to be able to motivate their competitors and fellow team members to perform well and work hard on their behalf. You tick people off, you kill their motivation to pull their weight on your behalf.

3. Celebrities need to be well-connected to rich friends willing to write checks.

Many of the challenges on Celebrity Apprentice involve raising money. If you are able to make calls to your well-heeled friends and get them to write big checks, you’re going to win every time. Apparently country music stars have friends who are extremely generous, hence the good showings by people like previous winner John Rich and runner-up Trace Atkins. Same applies to past winner Piers Morgan and Joan Rivers. Yet another musician who fared surprisingly well was hairband singer and winner Bret Michaels.

But Latoya Jackson wasn’t able to convert the Jackson family connections, otherwise she would have gone a lot further in the game.

Comedians have also shown a tendency to be generous. Will a comedian win season 5?

So, Communities oddsmakers (OK, this columnist) offer the following:

Penn Jillette. NBC Universal.

Penn Jillette, 56, magician. Charity: Opportunity Village. Odds: 2-1

Jillette has a strong personality and a thick hide, but seems like he’s the kind of guy that can get along with others to keep a lot of balls in the air, which takes someone who can direct others and still be a congenial guy. He’s been at the helm of a long running successful act in Las Vegas. He’s the only Vegas based celebrity on the show, which could yield some serious money. In my view he’s the the guy to beat.

Arsenio Hall. NBC Universal.

Arsenio Hall. NBC Universal.

Arsenio Hall, 55, talk show host/comedian. Charity: Magic Johnson Federation. Odds: 5-2

Hall is well liked and for a decade he was the talk show you wanted to show up on to prove you were hip and happening. (See: Bill Clinton and his saxophone). He’s well-liked and knows how to steer clean of drama. But are his connections too stale to yield the right money? This is why he stands behind Gillette.

Dee Snider, 56, rock star. Charity: March of Dimes/Bikers for Babies. Odds: 3-1

Dee Snider. NBC Universal.

Dee Snider. NBC Universal.

Snider has appeared on the show in previous seasons helping out other contestants. Trump likes him and rock stars who can generate cash often do well. He’s sure to be less emotional than the lip-quivering Meat Loaf, and maybe a little less wacky than Bret Michaels. But don’t knock Bret’s approach - he did win after all. Snider will brush off slights and insults no problem. He could be formidable.

Michael Andretti, 49, race car driver. Charity: Racing for Cancer. Odds: 7-2

Michael Andretti. NBC Universal.

Michael Andretti. NBC Universal.

If Andretti can tap into big time Indy Car and NASCAR money, he could go a long way. Racing sponsors know the value of sinking money into high profile sponsorships, including donations on a show like “Celebrity Apprentice.” He has leadership skills thanks to serving as chairman and CEO of Andretti Autosport, where he runs two full-time driver programs in the IndyCar series and is the most winning team owner in IndyCar history. Guys like this are highly competitive, too.

Lisa Lampenelli, 50, comedian. Charity: Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Odds: 4-1

Lisa Lampanelli. NBCUniversal.

Lisa Lampanelli. NBC Universal.

Comedians can be surprisingly generous. If Lampenelli can tap into this, it will help her overcome her seemingly abrasive personality. She’ll be able to take it, but if she dishes it out too much she’ll have trouble getting along with her fellow team members.

Cheryl Tiegs, 64, supermodel. Charity: The Farrah Fawcett Foundation. Odds: 5-1

Cheryl Tiegs. NBC Universal.

Cheryl Tiegs. NBC Universal.

Has Tiegs kept in touch with the supermodel world she helped to create? Will her industry friends come through for her? Will her fragile model ego hold up? Tiegs has managed her own career well through the years, and if she can apply those lessons to the show she’ll hang in there.

Debbie Gibson, 41, pop singer. Charity: Children International. Odds: 6-1

Debbie Gibson. NBC Universal.

Debbie Gibson. NBC Universal.

Gibson is the youngest performer ever to write and record a number one song. Being a teen music star is a rough way to make money. However, she has continued to get good reviews performing on the musical theatre stage. She also seems to be exceptionally motivated by the charity she’s playing for. Within an hour of the cast announcement, Gibson’s charity issued a news release announcing Gibson’s connection to the charity. She has been a supporter of the U.S. based humanitarian organization since 1991.

Victoria Gotti, 48, mob boss daughter. Charity: Assocation to Benefit Children. Odds: 7-1

Victoria Gotti. NBC Universal.

Victoria Gotti. NBC Universal.

Mob tough, mob smart, mob money. Two out of three isn’t bad. She’ll fascinate her fellow team members. She’s a former reality TV star, entrepreneur and writer. This one could be the surprise of the season… or she could crash and burn.

Clay Aiken, 32, American Idol runner-up. Charity: The National Inclusion Project. Odds: 8-1

Clay Aiken. NBC Universal.

Clay Aiken. NBC Universal.

Aiken has already put himself on the toughest public stage there is, “American Idol.” He’s heard every negative criticism there is. In interviews when the cast was announced, he admitted he might be “the crazy one” in the cast this year. If he can keep his fellow contestants off balance and tap into the Idol machine for some dough, he could hang in there longer than expected.

George Takei, 74, actor. Charity: Japanse American National Museum. Odds: 9-1

George Takei. NBC Universal.

George Takei. NBC Universal.

Takei is a cult figure and a favorite of hipsters thanks to his legacy on “Star Trek.” But can he tap into this? This is a tough call. Still, anyone who’s managed to keep his career afloat on a series that hasn’t been on the air for nearly 40 years is a wily guy.

Adam Carolla, 47, comedian. Charity: Big Brothers Big Sisters. Odds: 10-1

Adam Carolla. NBC Universal.

Adam Carolla. NBC Universal.

Carolla is a reality TV show veteran, although “Dancing With The Stars” doesn’t exactly compare to “Celebrity Apprentice.” He won’t be seen as a threat, he’ll likely get along with the rest of the team and if he can tap his comedian network, they are pretty good about writing checks. But he doesn’t seem to have the fire it takes to make it all the way into the finals.

Lou Ferrigno, 59, Incredible Hulk actor. Charity: Muscular Dystrophy Association. Odds: 12-1

Lou Ferrigno. NBC Universal.

Lou Ferrigno. NBC Universal.

It takes ambition and determination to become a professional bodybuilder, and even more to turn that into a successful career in Hollywood. Arnold did it, and Lou Ferrigno did it. He will work hard and he won’t take comments personallly. But does he have the connections to help him in the fundraising challenges? This will be his Achilles heel.

Dayana Mendoza, 25, former Miss Universe. Charity: Latino Commission on AIDS. Odds: 14-1

Dayana Mendoza. NBC Universal.

Dayana Mendoza. NBC Universal.

Clearly, it takes some amount of discipline to get yourself to the top of the beauty pageant circuit, but it’s unlikely Mendoza will have the connections to make herself useful, and fellow female contestants tend not to like their beauty queen sisters. She will survive under the radar for a while and Trump will keep her around for several weeks at least unless she ticks him off for some reason.

Tia Carrere, 44, actress, model, and singer. Charity: After-School All Stars. Odds: 14-1

Tia Carrere. NBC Universal.

Tia Carrere. NBC Universal.

The “Wayne’s World” hottie has demonstrated some entrepeneural spirit as a film and music producer. She may have organizational skills, but she’ll face the usual problems of not having too many connections in New York to lean on for help and funds.

Teresa Giudice, 39, “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Charity: Teresa Guidice. Odds: 15-1

Teresa Giudice. NBC Universal.

Teresa Giudice. NBC Universal.

Those Real Housewives are rough, tough and amazingly resourceful, that’s for sure. But in the end they tend to be too combative to make it to the final rounds.

Aubrey O’Day, 27, singer. Charity: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Odds: 16-1

Aubrey O'Day. NBC Universal.

Aubrey O’Day. NBC Universal.

O’Day, a reality TV show veteran discovered by Sean “Diddy” Combs who starred in the  MTV series “Making the Band,” knows full well what it’s like to have your every move and and comment end up on the air. She also knows what it’s like to be fired on the air. But she hasn’t done a lot since then, pursuing a “solo” career, modeling and getting herself on various “hot” lists. She’s attractive and resilient, but that will only get her so far.

Patricia Velasquez, 40, model. Charity: Wayuu Taya Foundation. Odds: 18-1

Patricia Velasquez. NBC Universal.

Patricia Velasquez. NBC Universal.

A genuinely mystifying pick. At best, Patricia’s a bit actress who sells hair care products on a home shopping channel. Come on now. Seriously?

Paul Teutul Sr., 62, (“American Chopper”). Charity: Make-A-Wish Foundation. Odds: 20-1

Paul Teutul. NBC Universal.

Paul Teutul. NBC Universal.

Teutel is known for his hair trigger temper on his TV reality show, “American Chopper.” Anyone familiar with the program knows he won’t tolerate the least bit of pushback from any team members. I strongly doubt he has the connections to generate much dough. He’s not pretty enough for Trump to keep around to entertain him. And he is sure to insult Ivanka Trump. He’s toast.

Don Jr., The Donald, and Ivanka Trump.

Don Jr., The Donald, and Ivanka Trump in the Celebrity Apprentice boardroom. NBC Universal.

The celebrities will be subject to long hours, grueling deadlines, intellectual challenges, personality clashes, and intense scrutiny under the careful watch of Donald Trump and his advisors, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump. Last season, “Celebrity Apprentice” raised a record amount for the contestants’ charities, donating over $3.1 million to charity.

A word of advice: don’t underestimate or insult Ivanka, or you are so out of there.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California, and a former broadcast producer, reporter and talk show host. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.


Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at WashingtonTimes.com” when quoting from or linking to this story.   

 Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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