Clay Aiken, Arsenio Hall, Victoria Gotti and 15 other celebrities of varying fame will vie for the respect of America’s most (self-)important businessman, Donald Trump, and big fat check for a charity of their choice.
The Donald announced the cast of this season’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” premiering Feb. 12, on Wednesday’s “Today” show.
To see the other celebrities joining the “American Idol” runner-up, former late night host and mob daughter this season, head over to the TV Column.
From the 18 celebrities cast, we tried to predict who had the best chance of winning based on the professions of past “Apprentice” winners — a totally scientific, not-at-all arbitrary method. To the pop culture laboratory!
Piers Morgan : The former tabloid editor, “X Factor” judge and current CNN host won the first “Celebrity” cycle of the show. Morgan beat singer Trace Adkins, model Carol Alt and boxer Lennox Lewis.
Possible contenders: None of the new cast members fit Morgan’s career description exactly. Former TV hosts Arsenio Hall and Adam Carolla are probably the best fit.
But quite a few of the new cast members have Morgan’s at times combative attitude. (Tea party politician Christine O’Donnell once called him “cheeky,” an adjective that makes for good reality TV.) Carolla could fit into this category as well, considering his recent unapologetic rant about the “self-entitled monster” generation. There’s also “Real Housewives of New Jersey’s” Teresa Giudice, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, get into fights and make enemies then flip tables on them.
Joan Rivers: The outspoken comedienne and E! “Fashion Police” host beat poker player Annie Duke, Jesse James and Playmate Brande Roderick to win season eight.
Possible contenders: The upcoming cycle of the “Apprentice” is heavy on comedians. There’s Hall and Carolla again, as well as Lisa Lampanelli and Penn Jillette, who has bonus magician powers.
Though her surgically altered face betrays this fact, Rivers is 75, making her the oldest person to win the show. If aging really does increase one’s wisdom, a win might be in store for 74-year-old “Star Trek” star George Takei.
Bret Michaels: The Poison rocker and reality star edged out Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne and Curtis Stone to win Season 9.
Possible contenders: Michaels is a man who wears many bandanas. If his time as an ’80s musician had anything to do with his win, pop star Debbie Gibson and Dee Snider of “Twisted Sister” are in luck.
But one shouldn’t discount his time schmoozing the ladies on VH1’s “Rock of Love.” Representing for the reality TV crowd this season, there’s Giudice, Aubrey O’Day of “Making the Band” and “All About Aubrey,” “American Chopper” star Paul Teutul Sr. and Victoria Gotti, who had her own A&E show.
Snider, another A&E reality series alum, and Clay Aiken, a reality TV-made musician, combine both of Michaels’s powers, giving them the most (arbitrary) edge of all.
John Rich: The country singer is the show’s most recent winner in a season that also featured Marlee Matlin, Meat Loaf, Lil Jon and — who could forget — Gary Busey.
Possible contenders: There aren’t any country crooners this time around. In addition to the aforementioned musicians, the cast also includes Grammy-winning singer Tia Carrere, who is perhaps best known for starring in the “Wayne’s World” films.
But I also consider Rich the fame underdog in his season of bigger name celebs. Enter this year’s “people you may need to Google” choices, IndyCar driver Michael Andretti, model Patricia Velásquez, whom “Arrested Development” fans will remember as Marta No. 2, and Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza. Never underestimate the dark horse.
So does this mean supermodel Cheryl Tiegs and Lou Ferrigno of “The Incredible Hulk” are at a disadvantage because they don’t fit into any of these categories? Only if you believe this highly scientific prediction method.
Will you tune into the NBC competition to watch any of these celebs in particular? Which star do you think will hear “You’re fired” first? Tell us in the comments.