March 26, 2011 03:30 PM by Shayla Perry
Niki Taylor made a graceful exit from the latest season of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, but in a recent conference call, the CoverGirl let us know how she really wanted to end things, why she thinks her team should have won the Camping World challenge, and her thoughts on Star Jones, Dionne Warwick, and NeNe Leakes. Her answers just may surprise you!
Question: It was a bummer to see you go, but I have to commend you for going out in such a classy way by just owning up to the task and leaving. Was that a long-established strategy of yours that if you were project manager and you lost and you didn’t feel like you could throw anybody under the bus to just leave like that?
Niki Taylor: I – yeah. I think that was kind of my thinking on the whole thing. Yeah, you know, everybody – I don’t know if you watched Lisa [Rinna], you know, it was really kind of testing the waters, like you 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, so, you know – and the way they edit everything, too, they kind of missed out a lot of the stuff of me talking with them, too.
So, yeah, you know, there was really nobody I could, you know, bring back in the boardroom and it kind of had to happen like that.
Question: So how did you handle Star Jones so well? I mean, it’s really the first time all season we saw her really compliment somebody in you.
Niki Taylor: Well, Star [Jones] and I, we’ve known each other a few years and I don’t know, I – you know, I know she did say that I was lacking leadership and, you know, she didn’t know what she was doing, but that’s the way Star plays the game. You know, 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, you had to kind of just talk to them the perfect – you know…with the perfect tone, with the right words and it’s really exhausting.
Question: So in terms of the actual challenge itself, have you gone back in your head and thought about, outside of having John Rich sing country, anything you guys could have done to kind of overtake the men?
Niki Taylor: Absolutely. I think on out dossier, there was nowhere – we had no phone number to call in plants or green turf. The guys just went ahead and thought of that first and they did that. So I think we could have brought in – I think if we brought in some green and we put our banners on our RVs we would have won.
Question: How was the experience for you overall?
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 $35,000 for the American Red Cross in the first episode. So I did win a little money for my charity.
Question: A lot of viewers were very impressed by the way you handled yourself on the show, especially in the boardroom, but they’ve been upset with the negative tone this season, complaining that the “bullies” are being rewarded for their behavior and they don’t like the message that it’s sending. What’s your take on that? Do you agree that the cattiness and backbiting seem to be prevailing on the show, or do you think that’s just due to editing?
Niki Taylor: Yeah, I think it’s due to editing. That’s what makes good TV and that’s kind of what makes this reality show and, you know, unfortunately you do have to – you usually bring back two people into the boardroom that [you] not necessarily throw under the bus, but didn’t like, you know, do their job or didn’t work as hard as others.
So, it kind of is backbiting – you know, but yeah. Unfortunately, you know, you saw with Star [Jones] and Dionne [Warwick] 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.
Question: Marlee [Matlin] said that she wished you had fought for yourself to stay. 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, you know, 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. You know, we just felt we gave everybody hospitality and so we weren’t throwing a baseball around. And so I think we should have won.
I know that’s not the question you asked but we should have won.
Question: So were you nervous about calling out Dionne [Warwick] 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, she was doing it all week. She did it to Marlee [Matlin] 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 was sweet to her. I was nothing but, you know, kind to her. So not even a kind person can get kindness out of Dionne [Warwick].
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 [Sunday, March 27] kind of just the truth and to see how Dionne handles things.
Question: You really impressed in the first few tasks. 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 [Rinna] 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, you know, win any money for my charity on this task.
Question: And how is it balancing the different personalities between telling them what to do and letting them do what they wanted, as well?
Niki Taylor: Exhausting. It was just – because you knew Star [Jones] was playing the game. You knew Dionne [Warwick] hated you, and you know, 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.
Question: On the women’s team and on the men’s team, who surprised you the most and why?
Niki Taylor: NeNe Leakes, who was such an amazing person. She went above and beyond every time I asked her to do something. 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 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 guys’ side. I know John [Rich] is going to be amazing.
Question: Do you think that had your teammates maybe not had performed up to par that you would have fought more to stay?
Niki Taylor: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s so funny because like 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, ‘Mr. Trump, can you please ask Dionne [Warwick] if she really, really wants to be here because I really want to be here. I want to fight for my charity.’
Because, you know, 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, you know, ‘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 gets fired, you need to bring me back.’
Question: In the last episode, Hope had mentioned something about Star being a bully. Would you consider Star or Dionne Warwick to be bullies?
Niki Taylor: Absolutely. That’s all I have to say. I think you see – you know, 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.
Question: A lot of people say that yes, you were a class act for the way you handled yourself in the boardroom, but many people, especially fans of yours, said that you gave up. How do you feel about people saying that you gave up and we had the opportunity to bring Dionne to the boardroom you didn’t do it?
Niki Taylor: Yeah. I know. I’m not that kind of player, I guess. 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, you know, tell the CEO, ‘Hey you have to choose this one.’ He’s going to – you know, everybody has different tastes and different styles of things that – how they want things, and he ultimately liked the guys’ better than the girls’.
I guess I could have brought that up, but, you know, 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. You know, 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.
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