HOW GENE BECAME A TV APPRENTICE
January 02, 2008
From: Chicago Sun-Times by Cindy Pearlman

Five Qs: It all started when Donald Trump asked 'Hey, you want to do the show?'

Is a rocker smart enough to be 'The Celebrity Apprentice'? KISS frontman GENE SIMMONS says you should never be too sure. 'I think it's fair to say that if it wasn't for the guitar hanging around their necks, many rockers would probably be asking the next person in line if they'd like some fries with that,' he opines.

Even so, Simmons joins up for the next installment of 'The Apprentice,' debuting Jan. 3 on NBC, where celebs try to win $1 million for their charity. How cutthroat was it? Simmons says it wasn't for the faint of heart. 'I can't be specific, but the truth is that there was literally more than one doctor that was brought onto the set because of the physical exhaustion.'

1) Gene, you've done much more in life than rock the house, so you might be great at all the Apprentice tasks. What else have you done in life?

I started off as a sixth grade teacher in Spanish Harlem. I also worked for Vogue magazine as an assistant. I was a man Friday to the editor in chief years ago and did lots of stuff. I also worked as the assistant to the director of Puerto Rican Interagency Council, a government-funded research and demonstration project. I've done it all.

2) How did Donald Trump lure you into doing 'Celebrity Apprentice'?

I went to a restaurant and I saw the powerful, attractive and world-famous Donald Trump there. And on the way out, we exchanged pleasantries and it was sort of a 'Hey, you want to do the show?' kind of thing. It was very fast and I went to myself, 'Well, I got a lot of stuff, KISS is going back out on tour, I got to tie my shoe and -- wait a minute. That's an interesting idea.' ... Of course because I'm delusional, I thought I was going to sit in the judge's seat on 'Celebrity Apprentice.' I didn't know Donald Trump was going to throw me right into the pits of hell with people like Marilu Henner. She's all smiles and innocent, and little miss goody two-shoes. She's a killer.

3) What makes you want to compete in something like 'The Apprentice'?

You know, I'm blessed to be the king of my own domain, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. But the question is if the rug is pulled out from under you and you don't have your support system, your staff, and your infrastructure, how good are you really? I'm also an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs, it seems to me, by and large are self-motivators and self-starters. They'd rather do it themselves and sort of outsource and use somebody else's infrastructure to get to where they want to go -- it's a cheaper business model. So I wanted to see how good I was in another situation. I was curious. I mean, I'm the rat that knew the maze to get to the cheese as a rocker. But how good am I in a brand new maze? The question is -- and this is what any champion in any field will eventually have to ask himself or herself -- once you've got enough money, once you've got enough fame and the glitz, and the glamor and the power, and the accoutrement of the American dream, when all the flashbulbs are gone and the girls stop kissing you, and you put the awards away and the sun comes up the next morning, and you're there by yourself -- will you get up at the crack of dawn and try to beat your own record?

4) What did you learn about Donald Trump from this experience?

I learned that the people who have a problem with Donald Trump and the 'You're fired' routine aren't pragmatic. You know, they think you're supposed to say nice things in life and that, you know, nobody can be fired. The truth is in life if people don't like what you do or you don't make sense, it's nothing personal. It's business. This is business and how you feel about it personally is beside the point. So my suggestion for everybody watching this show is to put on your thick skin, 'cause -- buckle up. It's going to be a rough ride.

5) Do you think some of your fans will now see you in a different light as a hard working, hustling Apprentice to Trump doing menial and businesslike tasks? Will this blow our image of you?

The disadvantage I had on the show is that I come from the boogeyman world, which is the rock world. I do some other stuff, but if you're in the rock world you're supposed to be big and bad, and you're supposed to be surrounded by beautiful women all the time. And, you know, people think of the accoutrements, the posse and the guys. People think you flinch and somebody brings you Champagne. I don't drink at all, by the way. So in some ways this Apprentice goes certainly against what I'm supposed to be projecting. But so what?