Carnie Wilson Talks 'Celebrity Apprentice' Firing & Mariah Carey's New Year's Eve Flub
Just two hours into the season premiere of NBC’s The New Celebrity Apprentice, Wilson Phillips singer Carnie Wilson heard those dreaded words -- “You're terminated! Hasta la vista, baby” -- as she was fired by new boardroom boss Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Now that she’s had a year to process her early dismissal and she has watched the episode along with the rest of the country, she has this to say to fans who were rooting for her: "Sorry, I can't hold on to you one more day,” Wilson says with a laugh. “I almost said, 'Now I have to release you.'”
Wilson’s exit is the viewer’s loss, as the feisty singer’s personality made entertaining television, especially when she took the reins as project manager to create a new music video for Trident gum. The doomed concept -- the brainchild of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards -- was blamed for the failure of the girls' team, yet Wilson refused to bring Richards back into the boardroom when it was time to face the music. Instead, she opted to bring former Olympian Lisa Leslie and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi in for the firing squad, yet found herself jettisoned instead.
“I think that I worked harder than anyone on that task and I believe they made the wrong decision,” she says. “Trident liked the concept, but they liked the guys better. I worked darn hard. Nobody else lifted a finger with that song. We would have been nothing without that song. I think I worked the hardest. I don't think I should have been fired.”
To recap: Wilson wrote the song with the lyrics “celebrate your smile” for a video that featured Laila Ali and Polizzi boxing in a ring. The issue Trident had with the finished product, they said, was it didn’t focus on the concept of showcasing “everyday smiles” and instead favored the guys' team, which had a song recorded by the unlikely duo of Motley Crue's Vince Neil and Boy George, who sparred in the boardroom over Neil having a drink in the recording booth in front of the sober Culture Club singer.
Wilson put herself in danger, Schwarzenegger argued, by not bringing in Richards, who hatched the idea in the first place.
“I did not bring in Kyle because I stood by that idea. You didn't see so much. There was so much that we had said and did, and it wasn't aired. That is why it looked totally lame that I didn't bring Kyle in,” she says. “This is more about the integrity of the entire team. We felt that we should have won. We thought that it was a better video and a better song. I know that it was the obvious thing to bring her back. I thought I would not get fired. I thought because I worked so hard and my contribution was so big that I would be safe."
Instead, she opted to bring in Polizzi, whose sole contribution was boxing in the ring with Ali. Leslie argued that Polizzi worked on the editing of the video, a fact Wilson disputes.
“I thought that Snooki worked the least. She just didn't put in much effort. She did film in the ring, but out of everyone, I thought she did the least,” she says. “Lisa was talking about that Snooki was doing all of this editing. That's not even true. Porsha Williams was doing the editing. They didn't air that. You didn't see that. I believe that Snooki was right to bring back, and Lisa lost her whole 'team player' card.”
As for missing the mark on “everyday smiles,” she says that was never emphasized in meetings with Trident. “I don't even know what happened with Trident. I don't know what they said to the guys when they met with them. They might have said something totally different. Who the f--- knows? They came to us, and when we talked with them, they barely mentioned 'everyday smiles.' They kept mentioning if you cherish your smile, you cherish your teeth, and the new cinnamon flavor,” she says. “We loved the idea and the irony of Snooki knocking out Laila with a smile. I thought it was brilliant, and we had different smiles in there. When the guys won, we were shocked because they had all these different smiles, but we thought it was poorly shot, and we didn't like the song as much. I think we should have won.”
As for the song, Wilson found inspiration from Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do Without You” and the driving beat behind it. “That was the beat playing in my head, and a great match to the boxing. They wanted to talk about celebrate your smile, and that was the lyric.” To record it, she recruited musician Jeff Ross -- who performs with Peter Asher -- to the session along with other background singers. What viewers didn’t see in the studio was Wilson herself cutting the vocals, “which is pissing me off, but it was impossible. This whole thing was impossible.”
Going into the boardroom was another hair-raising experience. Polizzi described it as being in the “principal’s office,” and Wilson agrees, as viewers noticed one moment when an aggravated Schwarzenegger glared at the girls for talking in the boardroom.
“We spent hours in there. There was a constant firing of questions,” Wilson says. “To get an answer out of everybody was very hard. It's like you are at war and there are cannons coming at you. That is what it feels like.”
At the end of the day, Wilson said the number one priority of every contestant is to get their charities some love and raise money toward their causes. That said, she is upset that her chosen charity -- Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America -- didn’t benefit.’
“[The show] should be contributing at least $5,000,” she says. “Come on! Arnold should reach into his crocodile wallet and take it out and go, 'Here' -- especially after I finally won him over with my bread pudding!”
Wilson’s wish came true Wednesday (Jan. 4) -- not on the show, but through social media -- as Carnival Cruise Corporation gave that exact amount to her charity. Wilson celebrated the donation with a message on Twitter, as Real Life’s “Send Me an Angel” blared in the background.
Wilson tells Billboard she only hopes that her time on The New Celebrity Apprentice continues to open up those opportunities, and she is actively looking ahead to 2017 as she plans to launch her new dessert line, Love Bites by Carnie, tour this summer with the Nelson brothers (Matthew and Gunnar Nelson), record more music with Wilson Phillips, and possibly work with her two young daughters, Lois and Luciana, on a children’s album “that can demonstrate some third-generation family harmony.”
“The kids and I sound great together and they are amazing singers,” she says.
Speaking of singing, Wilson took a moment in the middle of all of the Apprentice madness to check out the video of Mariah Carey’s performance on Dick Clark's New Year’s Rockin' Eve, and she feels sympathy for the singer.
“If you see an artist with their hands on their ears adjusting their ears, something is not right, and it is critical to make sure the volume is exactly as it was at the sound check. If something is wrong and off, you are in big trouble,” she says. “If you don't have monitors in front of you and especially singing to track and you have a track going, if you can't hear that track, you are finished.
“She refused to sing because she could not hear well enough,” Wilson adds. “She didn’t want to take a chance. She was mortified. I’d kill the sound people. It’s all their fault. That’s so sad. But you gotta have a backup plan, in my opinion.”
While Wilson didn’t exactly have a backup plan in the case she didn’t win The New Celebrity Apprentice, the experience is already bearing fruit.
“Some really good things came from it, and I can't say yet. You never know what will happen in the future in these coming weeks,” she says. “I am trying to take in the energy that is out there now, being under the microscope so quickly and being fired. I woke up today not feeling great. I feel much better now. It's all about connecting for me.”