By Dalton Ross
Updated May 25, 2010 at 10:00 AM EDT
Ali Goldstein/NBC

He came. He saw. He almost died. And in the end, HE ROCKED DONALD TRUMP’S SOCKS OFF! Poison frontman and Rock of Love serial dater Bret Michaels used a mix of charm and creativity to best Holly Robinson Peete, and in the process join Piers Morgan and Joan “Cluck, Cluck… Splash!” Rivers as a Celebrity Apprentice champion. We checked in with Bret on the day after his triumphant victory to talk about his “hiring,” his health, and what’s next for the rocker — both on the road and on TV. Read on after the jump for our full interview!

First off, congratulations!

Thank so you so much. I looked over at Trump at the end and I know his pattern for the Boardroom and I thought “This guy is gonna fire me!” He did the back and forth and I thought when he landed back on me, “Dude, I’m on medication, I flew back here, don’t fire me in front of everybody.” And I didn’t know at first if he said “fired” or “hired” so it took me a minute, and then when I realized it, I jumped up and screamed and I figured, even if that isn’t what he said, it’s live TV so screw it — I’m just gonna act like I won anyway.

Now, I heard Trump say those magic words last night with “You’re Hired.” So I guess my question is: Hired to do what? Are you gonna be sitting in a cubicle somewhere crunching budget numbers from now on?

I should have asked! And in my medicated state I forgot to ask one simple question: What exactly does that entail? They’ll have me down in the mailroom, like, mopping.

How touch-and-go was it — especially with the warning stroke you suffered a few days ago — as far as you being able to attend the finale? And was there a contingency plan of you appearing via satellite if you couldn’t make it?

Absolutely. After the first thing, the appendectomy, that was when they first set up the contingency plan because that was gonna knock me down for a little bit. Then with the brain hemorrhage, there was a major contingency plan if I survived it. And then when the warning stroke came, I thought it had completely knocked me out of going back. But my dream was to fly back. I wanted to go back and be a part of the room. It wasn’t about the show. It was about being in the room, I wanted to be there. So we came up with a whole regimen for what to do for the flight. The bittersweet part of it is they threw a huge party after and I just couldn’t make it. I just didn’t have the strength. I was pretty whipped.

Well, I know you’re playing a gig this weekend and were planning on touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd starting on June 10th. Can you really handle that?

Mentally, yes. Physically, I just don’t know yet. Mentally, I’m there and I want to do it, and at the same time, I gotta be honest: I’m sick and tired of even thinking or looking at a hospital, but I’m so thankful to be alive that everything to me is a good day. Man, give me a headache, I’ll take it. Break my leg…not that I want that!

A lot of people I spoke to when the season started were like, “Oh, Bret Michaels. He’s that guy from the skeezy dating show.” But as the season went on they really learned to appreciate not only your work ethic, but the classy way you treated others and your general joie de vivre. Was it nice to be able to both reach a new audience and to show another side of what you’re about?

Absolutely, and I went in there with all the right reasons. Obviously you go there for charity and to raise a lot of money. But for me, I said I want to show people that you don’t just get lucky, especially in the music business for 20 years. I wanted to show that there is more here and in the process just be myself. I would like to think that some of that came across. And I didn’t want to cut someone’s throat to win. I wanted Trump to see that I could win by really working hard and being creative.

One of the signature moments of the season was you learning that your daughter Raine may in fact have diabetes. That’s incredibly hard for any parent to go through, and you had to do it on camera for everyone to see, which I can only imagine made that much more difficult.

They were very respectful because I broke down a few times, and at one point I just went and hid. It was a lot and I didn’t want to lose and I didn’t want to leave. It was very tough for me to deal with.

One of my favorite life-on-the-road-as-super-successful-rock-stars-is-really-really-hard music videos is for “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, so let me ask you this: Which is harder — touring or competing on the Celebrity Apprentice?

Way, way harder on Celebrity Apprentice. When you do Celebrity Apprentice, it is grueling. They get you up at 4:45 in the morning and you’re going to sleep at 1. I will never bitch about being on the road. I love the road, but I will say this: When I did the Rock & Roll Tour Bus, the first two days it was a f—ing party. Pouring beer on the drivers — insanity! They were going nuts, which is great! I love it! But then after the fourth day of them living out of a suitcase, they were flipping out, like, ” I can’t do this. Where my s—?” They didn’t realize that there is a certain art form to being on the road.

Speaking of being on the road, with all your recent medical maladies, have doctors cautioned you at all against performing your patented Tour Bus Thrust?

I said, listen, I’m running out of organs here. But at least that organ’s still good! They said just be careful the way you handle the Tour Bus Thrust.

Trump seemed very interested in the whole bandanna thing. Have you hooked him up with one yet?

You have no idea! I set him up. I bedazzled it myself. He’s set up, He’s got it all ready to rock.

You have a new show on VH1 called Life As I Know It that premieres on May 31. What can we expect to see there?

These are the roses and thorns of my entire life. It’s life on the road, life with my daughters, my on-and-off relationship with Kristi, and you see it unfold. I have a fun, crazy, up, down family life as well, and no one has really seen it. But as we were shooting the show, I got sick. And I really don’t want my legacy to be that I had a brain hemorrhage. So I just said, I don’t want to be out there with five episodes to be me in the ICU. It’s not where I want the show to go, so we stopped filming for now. So the sneak preview will be just a taste of what’s to come in the fall. And we’ll shoot when I’m better. There will be a little touch of what happened to me, but I said, “Guys please don’t get stuck on that stuff.” Some may say, “It’s great TV!” Not for me, it isn’t. For ratings maybe, but not for my soul. I don’t want three episodes of me going to get an MRI. So we’ll touch on it, but let’s move on and get what else is going on in my life.

I know you’ve grown even closer with your girlfriend Kristi throughout all of this. What does that mean for the future of the Rock of Love franchise?

This is my feeling about Rock of Love. I loved doing it, I had a great time, but I gotta tell you, after the third one, I was ready for a break from doing that. They were ready to go back in and shoot a fourth one and I was like, “I can’t go back in and fake it. I’m not there mentally right now.” And that was it. If Kristi and I can’t work things out, and a year or two from now that’s where it goes, then awesome. If it isn’t, my acting skills are limited. I don’t want them scripting who I like and don’t like.

For more reality ramblings, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.