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the celebrity apprentice

The Celebrity Apprentice: Blago Is Innocent! Or So He Keeps Telling Us

On last night's premiere of the new season of The Celebrity Apprentice, Rod Blagojevich — former governor of Illinois, currently awaiting a federal corruption trial — maintained his innocence to all who would listen. For this, Donald Trump proclaimed, "You've got a lot of guts!" (Which seems odd, considering last season he abruptly fired Khloe Kardashian when he "discovered" she once had a DUI.) But at least the other contestants, like former wrestler Bill Goldberg, called Trump out on his publicity ploy. "It's an honor to be associated with all of [the other contestants], but Rod Blagojevich? Not necessarily," said Goldberg. Blago had a lot to say last night, using the show as a pulpit for his public image. "I didn't cook at all while governor, I was cooking up results for people, right?" Blago deadpanned to the camera in response to his task as a waiter.

The contestants, who include scatterbrained Cyndi Lauper, domineering Sharon Osbourne, and reality-TV staple Bret Michaels, were tasked with running a charity diner out of a Midtown Burger Heaven, and the men won the day, raising almost $100,000 for Michaels's charity for diabetes. In the end, Trump did his usual thing by first firing the least famous of the bunch who is not also hot and young, and this season that honor went to comedian Carol Leifer, best known as the inspiration for Seinfeld's Elaine. As for Blago, whose fund-raising abilities were lacking, at least he had a legitimate excuse: "When I come calling for money, someone else is listening. People on the other end know that." And then Ivanka smirked, Trump praised his "guts" again, and the discussion moved on to Darryl Strawberry's thoughts on being a team player. Should Blagojevich even be on this show? Is Trump playing nice now (in order to bring in ratings), only to righteously ax him later on? Unfortunately, we'll just have to play into Trump's plan and watch to see.


Photo: Ali Goldstein/NBC