Rafu Wire and Staff Reports
Actor and activist George Takei and singer/actress Tia Carrere are among the record 18-contestant field announced Wednesday for the NBC competition series “The Celebrity Apprentice,” hosted by Donald Trump.
Takei played Sulu on the original “Star Trek” series and six feature films, unsuccessfully sought a Los Angeles City Council seat in 1973, and was a board member of the Southern California Rapid Transit District. He has worked to educate the public about the internment of Japanese Americans, which he experienced as a child, and in recent years has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights. He had a recurring role on NBC’s “Heroes” and currently plays Hologramps on Nickelodeon’s “Supah Ninjas.” His previous reality show experience includes the U.K. version of “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!”
Alluding to the fact that Trump has spoken out against same-sex marriage, Takei wrote on his Facebook page, “Will the Trump hire me? … Now, the Donald and I don’t always see eye to eye, but I’m doing this for charity, playing to raise money and awareness for Japanese American National Museum.”
Honolulu native Carrere and producer/musician Daniel Ho won the Grammy Award for Best Hawaiian Music Album in 2009 and 2011. Early in her acting career, Carrere was a regular on “Genreal Hospital.” More recently, she starred in the TV series “Relic Hunter” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.” Her movie credits include “Showdown in Little Tokyo,” “Wayne’s World,” “True Lies,” “Rising Sun,” and “Lilo and Stitch.” She has guest-starred on such shows as “Combat Hospital,” “Warehouse 13,” “CSI: Miami,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Nip/Tuck” and “True Justice.”
The other contestants for the fifth season of “Celebrity Apprentice” are:
• Former talk show host Arsenio Hall;
• Model Cheryl Tiegs;
• Reality star Victoria Gotti (“Growing Up Gotti”);
• Reality star Teresa Giudice (“The Real Housewives of New Jersey”);
• Clay Aiken, the runner-up for the 2003 season of “American Idol”;
• Radio and television personality Adam Carolla;
• Lou Ferrigno, the champion body builder who played the title role in the 1978-82 CBS series “The Incredible Hulk”;
• Magician/comedian Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller;
• Recording artist and Broadway star Debbie Gibson;
• Twisted Sister lead singer and actor Dee Snider;
• Retired race car driver Michael Andretti;
• Paul Teutul Sr., a star of the Discovery Channel documentary series “American Chopper”;
• 2008 Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza;
• Singer and actress Aubrey O’Day;
• Comedian Lisa Lampanelli;
• Actress and model Patricia Velasquez.
“The Celebrity Apprentice” will air Sundays from 9 to 11 p.m. beginning Feb. 12.
The contestants will compete not for a job with the Trump Organization, but for the greater goal of raising money and awareness for their charity of choice. The last person standing will be “hired” as the Celebrity Apprentice and have the honor of delivering a $250,000 bonus check to his or her designated charity.
Every week, the celebrities will work in two teams, each under the guidance of a designated project manager, to compete in business-driven tasks around New York City, using their fame, along with their proven business acumen, to win challenges. Contestants are subjected to long hours, grueling deadlines, intellectual challenges, personality clashes and intense scrutiny under the careful watch of Trump and his advisors.
Certain challenges encourage contestants to reach out to their network of celebrity contacts for assistance or donations, leading to surprise visits by some of the world’s biggest stars and pop culture icons.
“We’ve never seen such a smart and funny group as this year’s lineup of celebrities,” executive producer Mark Burnett said.
Past winners are Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers, Bret Michaels and John Rich.
To see video clips of this year’s celebrities, visit www.nbc.com.