Having graced the cover of over 300 magazines worldwide including Mademoiselle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, Elle, Self, Shape, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Glamour, and a role model to millions of young women, International model, Niki Taylor remains a class act for her exit on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice.
This season’s Celebrity Apprentice has been extremely volatile and unpredictable. And after witnessing the attacks fired contestant Lisa Rina received, Taylor took the loss for her team and refused to throw any of her team mates under the bus.
In my interview with Niki Taylor, she talked about her charity, the American Red Cross, what she learned from the experience on the Celebrity Apprentice and even called Star Jones and Dionne Warwick bullies.
Celebrity Apprentice airs Sundays at 9 p.m. E on NBC
In the last episode, Hope had mentioned something about Star Jones being a bully. Would you consider Star or Dionne Warwick to be bullies?
Niki Taylor: Absolutely.
Wow, that’s pretty strong…
Niki Taylor: That’s all I have to say. I think you see I don’t think just the TV has to show their true character. They have absolutely no joy in their lives and they are bullies. Unfortunately you saw with Star and Dionne and they show their true character and that’s truly how they are that’s how they are in life and that’s how they are as people and it’s unfortunate. And I feel really bad for them.
In the previous episode, Star Jones directed the challenges including the last project when you were product manager. Did this somewhat undermine your abilities as the leader and you also mentioned said that Dionne seemed miserable and didn’t want to be there. Why didn’t you bring her back in the boardroom with you?
Niki Taylor: Well, because she did what she was asked. Then I believe she went to Bed, Bath & Beyond, but we didn’t see that part and she was gone until our time was up. So she did everything that she was asked. Going against Star Jones who is a lawyer, she’s already got all the questions, she already has all the answers, I definitely did not lead like Star did. I don’t think you need to lead in this particular task for Camping World, it was was fun, it was supposed to be an experience, it was supposed to be light. Like everybody was in charge of their own area of the RV and so, you know, I just think she just had to make sure like just in case I brought her back in the boardroom, she covered all her bases. So I think that’s kind of what you always just had to keep in the back of your mind with Star. My girls did do everything I asked them to. We had an amazing experience, as well as branding. What you see on TV is how they edit it. I was project manager and ultimately you can’t tell the CEO hey you have to choose this one. Everybody has different tastes and different styles of things that how they want things, and he ultimately like the guys’ better than the girls’. I guess I could have brought that up, but I can’t fight. He’s already chosen the guys. And yeah, I could sit there and fight a 70 year old woman, but would that look good? No. I think you’re going to see in this next one really how Dionne handles herself even more. But I don’t think I gave up. I think I did my best. I did get to win some money for my charity, so I think I won here. I ran this through my head as I saw the show and how I did exit, actually I really wanted to ask Donald, I’m like Donald, can you – or Mr. Trump, can you please ask Dionne if she really, really wants to be here because I really want to be here. I want to fight for my charity. Because Dionne, she only did what she was told, she just – she took lots of smoke breaks and she was just like miserable and you could really tell. She just didn’t want to be there. So I wanted to tell him ask her if she wants to be here and if she does, that means she’s going to go above and beyond for the next task. And if she quits or if she gets fired, you need to bring me back.
You exited the show as a class act and everyone commends you for that but we were sat to see you go….
Niki Taylor: I don’t know if you watched the show the week before with Lisa, it was really kind of testy waters like you didn’t want to like pull them aside, make sure they knew what the task was, what their job was because they attacked Lisa. And I guess I didn’t want that, the way they edit everything, too, they kind of missed out a lot of the stuff of me talking with them, too. There was really nobody I could bring back in the boardroom and it kind of had to happen like that.
Star Jones complimented your exit but said earlier in the episode that you lack leadership. What do you say to that?
Niki Taylor: Well Star and I, we’ve known each other a few years and I know she did say that I was lacking leadership and she didn’t know what she was doing, but that’s the way Star plays the game. But other than that, you kind of just really had to kind of keep your distance. And it’s kind of hard to learn everybody’s personality in such a short amount of time because the Type A personalities and my personality, you had to kind of just talk to them the perfect with the perfect tone, with the right words and it’s really exhausting.
Are you satisfied with your decision to take the fall for your team’s loss?
Niki Taylor: I am. I think it was the right decision. There was really nobody that – I mean, each girl, they did, they worked their butts off. They did everything that I asked them to. They made their space in each part of their camper that they were assigned to beautiful and they learned everything about an RV and camping that day. So if I was going to take the fall – I think we beat the boys. I think we should have beat the boys. So I didn’t have a guitar. I couldn’t sing a jingle and I didn’t have green turf. I think that’s the only reason why we lost. We had amazing branding. We gave out folders to everybody who walked in. We gave them waters that had Camping World on it. We just felt we gave everybody hospitality and so we weren’t throwing a baseball around. And so I think we should have won.
So were you nervous about calling out Dionne to Donald Trump for being difficult to work with at all?
Niki Taylor: A little bit, yeah. You know, first I’ve never seen a 70-year-old person act like that. Maybe somebody a lot younger, but so I – but she was doing it all weak. She did it Marlee behind – you know, Marlee and Hope, she did off-camera. She was attacking everybody the whole time. And so I knew my turn was going to come up, and then finally I was just like, okay, here it comes. She’s going to do it to me on camera. She’s going to try and push my buttons when all I did was show her respect. I gave her respect. I was sweet to her. I was nothing but kind to her. So not even a kind person can get kindness out of Dionne. So, no, I had to tell Mr. Trump like it was and I think you’re going to see in this next – this next show coming up next week kind of just the true and to see how Dionne handles things.
Was it harder being project manager than you imagined?
Niki Taylor: Yes. I probably should have waited a little longer, but it kind of fell into my lap. I was the only one that had been camping. And I’m glad I did choose it because it was outside, we were always busy, always moving, there was tons of stuff to do. I think if I was in a confined room like Lisa was the week before, I would have been attacked a lot more, so this was actually a great task for me. I’m glad I chose it. Unfortunately, I’m upset that I didn’t win any money for my charity on this task.
How was the experience for you overall on the Apprentice?
Niki Taylor: I learned a lot. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was a great experience for myself and I got to win $135,000 for the American Red Cross in the first episode. So I did win a little money for my charity.
How is it balancing the different personalities between telling them what to do and letting them do what they wanted?
Niki Taylor: Exhausting. It was just because you knew Star was playing the game. You knew Dionne hated you but all the other girls were amazing. But you always had to watch out for those two and it was just like, really? I just want to beat the guys here. Come on. Let’s just get along. Let’s do our best here and just get along.
What did you learn about yourself?
Niki Taylor: I need to speak up a little more. Maybe take somebody aside if they need to – or if they have a question or – definitely speak up more.
Did you learn anything from Marlee Matlin’s sign language?
Niki Taylor: A little bit. I learned bossy. I know how to say bossy because we were referring to a few people. And then I know just like basic stuff that I do with my daughter like please, thank you, but Marlee is an amazing lip reader and you can have a conversation with her and she is so funny. Oh, my gosh. She’s got a sense of humor.
Is harder being on the Celebrity Apprentice or is it harder being a model?
Niki Taylor: Well, definitely being on the Apprentice. I’ve modeling for over 20 years and that’s just been my job. But the Apprentice was definitely challenging and that’s what I loved about it. And I keep telling everybody that’s why I did it because it scared me and it got me out of my comfort zone. I wanted to win money for my charity which was the American Red Cross. I learned a lot about myself and I speak up more and I learned a lot about brand messaging. I can make pizzas and I did a children’s book. I got to perform on stage. Overall it was a good experience for me.
Why did you pick the American Red Cross as your charity?
Niki Taylor: I chose it because I was in the car accident in 2001 and I needed over 100 units of blood and the American Red Cross supplied my hospital with that blood and it was – this is me thanking all those people that donate blood every day.
What was the most fun part of filming the show?
Niki Taylor: I actually had a really good time working with all the girls and my family – I got to bring my husband and my daughter with me, so we all got to – we stayed in the Trump Towers. We were right across the street from the Park. So I guess it would be coming home and seeing my husband and baby every night. My boys were back here in Nashville. I guess I wanted to see what our next challenge was and push myself a little bit.
A lot of the contestants are complaining about how forceful Star Jones is….
Niki Taylor: Yeah, she definitely pushes you and there’s a lot of TV you didn’t see with her talking back to me.
Do you feel that Star Jones has a certain business advantage over the other celebrities, especially when celebrities are mostly taken care by handlers and publicists but she was a lawyer before she became a celebrity?
Niki Taylor: Yeah. Yeah, I guess so, and I know she has a book that just came out, too, which I hope does very well but I hear it’s called Satan’s Sisters. I guess she could have – I wish she would have looked at that opportunity as a positive and what she got out of it because it was a gift given to her at the time. And now she’s- how many years has it been that she’s kind of been away with it. I don’t know, it just – but yes, she definitely had an advantage coming from the legal background and business. What I brought to the team is I’ve been in the fashion industry for over 20 years so I know a lot about fashion shoots and what goes into making a brand. So we all had our different strengths.
Why do you think that the ladies attack each other so much instead of having fun?
Niki Taylor: I know, right? And it’s guys against girls. Come on girls, let’s like stick together. Let’s like try and beat the guys as much as we can like – it just started way before even the cameras were on us, there were already things starting. And I’m like, oh, boy. What did I get myself into, you know. We all love charities. We all love everybody’s charity. I think everybody wanted to win money for each other’s charity, as well. So I think some people there’s just other issues there than being there for what we’re really there for.
Who do you think might surprise us?
Niki Taylor: I really like Marlee. She’s a smart lady. NeNe Leakes who was such an amazing person. She went above and beyond every time I asked her to do something. She is – she was just fantastic with me when at first I was, you know, a little scared meeting her just because of all the stuff I heard about, you know, Housewives of Atlanta. But she was amazing and super, super great with me. And on the guys’ side, I don’t know. I really haven’t thought about the guy side. I know John’s going to be amazing.
NeNe Leakes goes after Star pretty soon…
Niki Taylor: Yes, I can’t wait for that.
By: Daedrian McNaughton