Leeza Gibbons won her season of NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice in 2016. Now she’s sizing up the new crop of candidates from the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led revamp exclusively for PEOPLE. Follow her on Twitter @LeezaGibbons and read more about Leeza’s Care Connection.
For those of us who love Celebrity Apprentice, we can settle down. The transition is complete and the inauguration successful. Our drug of choice will continue to satisfy our TV addiction from its new location. California is like a welcome new character in the show, a fresh and sexy background to host a whole new cast of the competent and crazy.
The Governor plays the role effortlessly in the west coast reset, puffing his cigar, presiding over the contestants while he whips them into submission; at one point reprimanding his friend Jon Lovitz for calling him Arnold, reminding him that, “In here, you call me Governor.” Gotta love that.
Schwarzenegger is perhaps the only political celebrity who ranks high enough on the big, bold, beefy scale to even be considered for the role of Apprentice Boss-elect, but the Governor also has a much quicker laugh trigger. In fact, Arnold can be flat-out funny, which makes the New Celebrity Apprentice sometimes unexpectedly comical.
Leeza GibbonsTommaso Boddi/Getty
I loved Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr. as advisors in the board room with Trump. There was something about that family dynasty that was irresistible. But the business credentials of the advisors this season is impressive and will nicely complement Patrick Knapp Schwarzenegger, Arnold’s nephew who is a constant in the boardroom all season. Not only does Patrick look and sound like a young Arnold, but he is razor sharp with killer instinct. Fans won’t be disappointed.
Tyra Banks was strong advising in episode one with her “Fierce & Fabulous” campaign, giving the contestants powerful direction and admonishing the women for failing to use their strongest commodities in marketing her new beauty line: their faces. People want to be you, people want to look like you,” she said. “You’re undervaluing the value that you have.” Something Ms. Tyra never does.
Having won this thing during the final year of Trump, here’s how I see it: Everyone knows this is where true competitors thrive. But not just the “cutthroat, chop their heads off” stuff — it takes finesse, stamina, strategy and heart. The boardroom is a knife fight with instincts but the tasks are leadership and focus.
No one was be expecting George to be strong in business, but I figure he’s survived a long time in the music world by standing out from the crowd. That takes guts. He won’t be easy to knock out. He knows branding and marketing (a big part of the game) because he created himself. He stepped up as project manager in task one partly because he got backed into it as the “one on the team who knew about makeup” but also because he’s fearless.
Matt is a TV host and that serves well in this competition. He’s a showman and he’s physical. Plus he’s likable and is a natural leader who’s smart enough not to get sabotaged.
RELATED VIDEO: Matt Iseman Reveals What It Was Really Like Working with Arnold Schwarzenegger on The New Celebrity Apprentice
Carson knows how to work himself into the spotlight in any situation. Watch him do it. He listens. He has heart. He wants it.
For the ladies. Brooke Burke Charvet won Dancing with the Stars, so she’s bulletproof. She will work harder than anyone there. She’s disciplined as all get-out. Super-smart.
Laila Ali is the stealth bomber on the ladies team. She could sneak up and grab it. Focus, focus, focus. She’s going to get along with people, but will stand her ground.
As for Lisa Leslie, when you’re a hall of famer and have four Olympic gold medals, all you know how to do is win, so it would surprise me if she didn’t go far. She’s also a lady, which I really love about her.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi will probably be one of the biggest draws if she can hang around. She says she is a “hot mess” and wants this show to allow viewers to see her as more of a “boss-bitchy” hot mess!
RELATED VIDEO: Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi Dishes on Her New Celebrity Apprentice Boss Arnold Schwarzenegger
Porsha Williams is probably going to try to create a sisterhood feeling and weave some spiritual threads. She lucked out week one. Will Snooki cross with Porsha and bring this season’s Vivica A. Fox/Kenya Moore showdown moment?
Maybe, but my money’s on Vince Neil and Jon Lovitz for that!
The New Celebrity Apprentice airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.
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