I make no apologies. I enjoy watching NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice! There’s a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned as 14 well-known and not-as-well-known celebrities split into two teams and perform various challenging tasks that usually involve the show’s corporate sponsors.
Over the course of six seasons of The Apprentice and three seasons of Celebrity Apprentice there have been more than 100 tasks that required the participants to create marketing campaigns and advertorials, compose songs and jingles, write and perform in commercials and videos, design comic books, put together live charity auctions and VIP events, set up storefronts, create 3-D experiences, and sell various wares on the street and on QVC.
Watching the show is like auditing college-level crash courses in business management, advertising, marketing, sales, script writing, video editing, production, etc. If you pay attention and don’t skip an episode you could earn an honorary television doctorate.
I also like watching Celebrity Apprentice because it provides a study in human behavior, an intimate glimpse into how people perform under pressure. Some effectively step into a leadership role and lead their teammates to victory, while others have a hard time making decisions, are afraid to delegate, or simply aren’t team players. It’s interesting to see who remains calm, who explodes, who inspires, who withdraws, who breaks down and who quits.
LIFE LESSON: You can learn a lot about yourself by watching others who may be mirroring back to you your own behavior. Take notice. If you don’t like how they are acting, make sure you’re not doing the same thing. If you are, change your ways.
After completing each week’s task, both teams end up in the boardroom where the project manager of the winning team is rewarded with money for his or her favorite charity and someone from the losing team hears Donald Trump deliver the dreaded proclamation, “You’re fired.”
On March 14, 2010, Season 3 of Celebrity Apprentice premiered. I was excited about seeing Cyndi Lauper, Sharon Osbourne, and Holly Robinson Peete in action. I knew who some of the other contenders were like former New York Mets and Yankee outfielder, Daryl Strawberry; celebrity chef, Curtis Stone; and former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich who was facing federal corruption charges at the time of the show. I must admit, however, that I had no idea who the good-looking rocker-type guy with the long, blonde hair, bandana, eyeliner and tattoos was.
I quickly learned his name is Bret Michaels and besides being a solo artist, he was and continues to be the frontman for Poison, a glam metal band that enjoyed huge success in the 1980s and early 1990s,. I did some research and found out that Bret is also a director, a screenwriter, and a producer. He was the star of his own VH1 reality show, Rock of Love and while on Celebrity Apprentice he was preparing for a new reality show, Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It.
I’m more the conservative type, so it’s not surprising that I didn’t know who Poison was or that I didn’t watch Rock of Love; but I did become a fan of Bret’s during the very first episode of Celebrity Apprentice when he stepped up as project manager for his team, RockSolid and competed against Team Tenacity and their project manager, Cyndi Lauper.
As the weeks went on Bret impressed me with his work ethic, giving his all to the task at hand, though often neglecting his health, (Bret was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when he was six) in order to win for his charity, the American Diabetes Association.
LIFE LESSON: Putting yourself first is not selfish; it’s the smart thing to do. If anything happens to you, everyone that you take care of will suffer.
After ten weeks and lots of challenges, the last two contestants vying for the title of Celebrity Apprentice and a $250,000 grand prize were Bret Michaels and actress, author, and co-host of the new CBS daytime show, The Talk, Holly Robinson Pete.
While Bret was playing for the American Diabetes Association, Holly was playing for the HollyRod Foundation, a non-profit organization she started with her husband, retired NFL quarterback and news sportscaster, Rodney Peete, that assists families of children with autism and offers medical, physical, and emotional support to individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.
On May 23, the 11th episode aired. The task called for Bret and Holly to develop a new flavor for Snapple, along with a 30-second commercial and brochure that would be used to market the drink. Here is a video that gives you a taste of the pressure they were both under.
The next night was the finale. If you know who Donald Trump named as the Celebrity Apprentice, great; if you don’t, let’s enjoy a little bit of a cliffhanger and go back six weeks to the night that episode 5 aired.
It was April 11, 2010 and Bret was getting ready to perform on stage in San Antonio, Texas. He had been suffering all day from stomach pains he attributed to the flu. When he was finally rushed to the hospital, doctors diagnosed it as acute appendicitis and Bret underwent emergency surgery at 1:00 a.m. Later he was told that if he had gone onstage like he wanted to, the appendix would likely have ruptured and he could have died.
“When you’re not planning on having a body part ripped out of you, it can be a shock to the system,” said Bret. “I’ve spoken to several doctors and they all seem to be impressed with the condition I’ve kept myself in as a juvenile diabetic. But a lot of extra care needs to be taken to make sure my body heals correctly.”
Recovery from an appendectomy usually takes four to six weeks, but just eleven days later on the night of April 22, while resting at home in Arizona, Bret felt an explosion, like a small handgun had gone off in the back of his head.
Luckily Bret realized the seriousness of it and woke his girlfriend, Kristi, who rushed him to the hospital where doctors discovered he had suffered a brain hemorrhage. He was admitted to ICU and his condition was listed as critical.
Bret said he had a talk with God. “I know I’ve done a lot of rotten things, but if you could cut me a break just this time, I promise I’ll be better in the future.”
God must have been listening because Bret pulled through a medical emergency that only about 20% of people survive.
LIFE LESSON: Bret wants everyone to know that it’s important to listen to your body. When something feels wrong, get to the emergency room immediately. Even the slightest bit of time can make the difference between life and death.
After weeks of rehab, Bret did his first live interview via satellite with Oprah on May 19 and talked about how lucky he was. He may have spoken too soon because the very next day he was back in the hospital after suffering a warning stroke known as a TIA (transient ischemic attack) that can be a precursor to a more serious stroke. Luckily the TIA led the doctors to discover a hole in his heart that is scheduled to be repaired in January 2011.
Four days later, on May 24, 2010 the country was buzzing about Bret Michaels, wondering if there was any way he was going to be able to make the finale after having an appendectomy, a brain hemorrhage, a warning stroke and the discovery of a hole in his heart all within a few weeks! Everyone was pulling for Bret and when he miraculously walked out onto the stage with only what appeared to be a slight limp, the audience in the studio and I’m sure at home went wild.
“Lately it seems that just standing up is risking my life,” he told Donald Trump who asked whether he was risking his life being there. I’m not sure how smart it was, but Bret is a man who likes to keep his commitments. Holly did an amazing job, but even she admitted that her son was rooting for Bret. Sure enough, the audience erupted in wild applause once again when Donald Trump said, “Bret, you’re the Celebrity Apprentice.”
Two days later, on May 26, 2010, Bret shocked everyone again, including his doctors and his family, when he made a surprise appearance on the finale of American Idol and performed “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” with third-runner up, Casey James.
A few months later I was thinking about who to interview for the November issue of Luxury Las Vegas. I wanted someone who had a lot to be thankful for and naturally Bret Michaels came to mind.
Bret’s publicist, Jo Mignano is a doll. She said the timing of the interview was perfect since November also happens to be American Diabetes Month. It took some maneuvering, but Jo finally found some time in Bret’s hectic schedule (he doesn’t seem to have slowed down very much) and the interview was set for October 6, while Bret was in Atlanta for the launch of the Diet Snapple Trop-A-Rocka Tea that he came up with on Celebrity Apprentice.
In talking with Bret, I discovered just how considerate, caring, and charming a man he is. We talked for about 45 minutes before he apologized and said he had to cut the interview short. “I’ll be in Toronto tomorrow. Can we continue the conversation then,” Bret asked. I don’t know how he keeps the schedule he does, but he looks and sounds great. With all that he’s gone through, Bret is like the Energizer Bunny who keeps on going and going. I don’t think I could keep up with him even on a good day.
Sure enough, the next day I spent almost another hour talking with “Mr. Keeps His Commitments.” We talked about the two things that mean the most to him in the world – music and family. He and longtime girlfriend and recent fiance, Kristi Lynn Gibson are devoted parents to their two daughters – Raine Elizabeth Sychak, born on May 20, 2000, and Jorja Bleu Sychak, born on May 5, 2005. Nearly dying may bring Bret closer to making the biggest commitment of his life. Though he has avoided marriage for 47 years, he is now talking about it.
While Bret was on Celebrity Apprentice he found out that his daughter Raine is a Type 1 diabetic. He took the news hard, but it reinforced the reason he was doing the show. By the time all was said and done, Bret had raised $640,000 for the American Diabetes Association.
In this video of Bret singing the song “Raine,” that he wrote for his daughter, you can really feel the love and devotion he feels for his kids.
LIFE LESSON: It’s important for us all to remember that nothing in life is guaranteed. We should live each day as if it is our last, with appreciation and gratitude for all that we have and all that we are.
Read the full interview I did with Bret for Luxury Las Vegas magazine, Up Close and Personal with Bret Michaels. Bret is someone who doesn’t let anything keep him down for long. He is a survivor who comes from strong, blue-collar, Pittsburgh stock and he is passionate about life.