By Dalton Ross
October 15, 2012 at 03:45 PM EDT
Sonja Flemming/CBS

Image credit: Dalton Ross[/caption]

Filming commences today on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice as Donald Trump’s reality show brings back contestants from the first five celebrity seasons of the program. The cast is a curious one, missing some seemingly obvious choices like Annie Duke and Aubrey O’Day while including a few head-scratchers (Claudia Jordan? Does anyone even know who she is?). What’s also interesting is that no famous Celebrity Apprentice feuds — Omarosa versus Piers Morgan, Annie Duke versus Joan and Melissa Rivers, Lisa Lampanelli versus Dayana Mendoza — will be rekindled as none of the selected players have any past bad blood with anyone else.

I took a double-decker bus ride with Donald Trump and most of the new cast (La Toya Jackson and Omarosa were MIA) around Manhattan (some pictures of which you can see here) to take the temperature of the new crew. In terms of how they will actually do on the show, it seems like you can separate this cast into three groups: the frontrunners, the sleepers, and those that don’t stand a chance in hell of winning. Who falls into which category? Here’s my take:

THE FRONTRUNNERS

Penn Jillette

The dude is smart and very smooth in the Boardroom. His problem last time was not being a team player and supporting other people’s ideas. But in terms of intelligence, he’s got to be the best of the bunch here, and if Penn can just manage his ego, he should be the one to beat.

Lisa Rinna

She went out very early in season 4 after being on the losing end of a feud with Star Jones, but I think due to her polished nature she could go far. Also, The Donald may be too frightened of being sucked into the giant vortex that is her pair of lips to fire her. When I saw them myself up close and personal on the bus, I could not stop staring. And she saw me staring. And that was embarrassing. And yet I still could not look away.

Trace Adkins

The season 1 finalist’s biggest strength is that he manages to get the job done without being overbearing. His previous cast loved him so he has a good mix of social and strategic game. Plus, anyone that wears a cowboy hat on this show seems to do well. Even Clint “I use Tide detergent to masturbate” Black!

Marilu Henner

She may be too nice to play dirty and — more importantly — too nice to make good enough TV for Trump to keep her around. But if you’re looking for another person who actually seems somewhat qualified in the business world, then Marilu’s your gal.

THE SLEEPERS

Bret Michaels

There were a few times in season 3 where it was clear Trump wanted to fire Bret Michaels but could not for one reason or another. Then, after Michaels suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and was diagnosed with a heart problem, his victory became the reality TV feel good story of the year. I love the fact that Bret is back (and seemingly performing his infamous Tour Bus Thrust on Marilu Henner in the picture below). I just don’t see Trump letting the only returning champion win again. I have to believe he’ll want to mix it up a bit.

Image credit: Dalton Ross[/caption]

Lil Jon

Lil Jon did extremely well in season 4 and there’s no reason to think he won’t succeed here as well. I just can’t see Trump crwoning the king of crunk a champion. Although I hope he does, because I have to imagine there is nothing in the world funnier than a picture of Donald Trump and Lil John celebrating together.

Brande Roderick

On one hand, it’s amazing she made it as far as she did in season 2. On the other hand, she’s a Playboy Playmate and is there anything on God’s green earth that Donald Trump loves more than that? That alone pretty much gives her immunity through the first six weeks.

Stephen Baldwin

Stephen Baldwin is hilarious because he clearly thinks he is a million times smarter than he actually is. I love the air of arrogance he projects. (Dude, you were in Bio-Dome! Get over yourself!) But if anyone loves arrogance, it’s Donald Trump, so Baldwin’s phony baloney charm could serve him well here.

Dee Snider

Dee didn’t wow me with his game last season, but he’s certainly competent and as long as he doesn’t screw up an early challenge as Project Manager, he should last a while.

La Toya Jackson

Does La Toya have secret pictures of Trump in an Obama t-shirt or something? Because blackmail is the only logical excuse I can come up with for the sway she holds over this man. She did absolutely nothing throughout all of season 4, was finally fired, then asked Trump to let her back in the game… and he agreed! Now, after her wildly unimpressive first (and second) run, she’s back yet again. Even with the big boss man doing everything in his power to keep her around, La Toya can’t actually win this game. Can she…?

DON’T STAND A CHANCE IN HELL

Gary Busey

I think the two photos I shot below on the bus ride tell you everything you need to know about Gary Busey. It would be the most absurd thing in the world that five people were fired before him in season 4… if it did not make complete sense for a show that promotes personality over actual performance. The Donald will keep Busey around for a few weeks just to drive everyone else insane, but then he will cut him loose. (Incidentally, Busey sat next to me on the bus for a while and would not shut up about those damn Omaha steak Father’s Day kite packages he was so proud of.)

Image credit: Dalton Ross[/caption]

Everybody Loves Raymond: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Image credit: Dalton Ross[/caption]

Dennis Rodman

Last time we saw Dennis Rodman in season 2, he was abandoning his post as Project Manager to invite himself out for dinner and drinks with some very frightened hotel guests. That clear commitment to excellence will probably not carry him to the finals.

Claudia Jordan

Who? That was my reaction when I saw her name on the list of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice contestants. I have watched every episode of this damn show and I still had no idea who she was. Oh, right, the Deal or No Deal model. Here’s the thing: Claudia could be great. She could be amazing and light the world on fire. (I’m guessing she’s not because I barely remember her from last time around.) But can you see Trump awarding the prize to someone so clearly NOT famous? Neither can I.

Omarosa

Oh, lordy. We all know why she’s back. Like Busey, she’s just hear to drive people (and I’m including viewers in that category) crazy. The problem with Omarosa is that unlike Busey, who is naturally unhinged, Omarosa’s act usually comes off as just that — an act. And a tired one at that. Obviously the wild card is that she is mourning the recent tragic death of her boyfriend, Michael Clarke Duncan. Perhaps we will see a kinder, gentler Omarosa this time. Still, it would be a shocker if she actually wins. Unless she borrows some of La Toya’s photos or puts on a cowboy hat.

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

Read more:

Welcome back, Gary Busey!

Joan Rivers, Piers Morgan to return as ‘Apprentice’ advisors

Advertisement

Comments

EDIT POST