Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Donald Trump was, sadly, nowhere in sight this morning as NBC kicked off the broadcast portion of the TCA winter press tour. So it was left to the actual castmates of NBC’s All-Star Celebrity Apprentice to supply the eye-popping commentary, which Penn Jillette was more than happy to oblige at the outset. In response to a question about why he would participate in an unscripted endeavor that might qualify for an episode of his previous Showtime series Bullshit, he maintained that in fact Celebrity All-Star Apprentice is “the most honest show I’ve ever heard about in reality.” Seriously? “That’s the stunning thing that blows people’s minds,” Jillette continued. “Celebrity Apprentice has more integrity and is the most straightforward show I’ve ever seen…I have never seen or heard an example of disingenuous editing or anything being done out of context.” When this claim didn’t elicit gasps in the room, he continued, “The story that’s told on Celebrity Apprentice seems to be the story that could be told if you were there. I was really amazed by that, and honesty is perhaps as important to me as anything else. So I was thrilled to go back and trust the editors and the producers.” Jillette added that in a genre often generously described as being at least partially scripted, he stressed that the celebs on the show are not playing a role and are encouraged instead to be themselves. “It’s no different than being in life. It’s exactly the same.”
That alleged honesty was at least present during the breakfast panel in the comments made by Gary Busey. He admitted that the reason he wanted to participate in the series was “I didn’t have anything else to do.” He also referred to his worst enemy as being himself. And cast member Lil Jon agreed with Jillette when he said of the show, “We go through real things and real situations. What you see is what really happens.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean the participants come away from the experience with profound life lessons, according to Trace Adkins. He broke up the room when he noted, “I don’t think I learned anything doing this show that I’d use anywhere else. (Pause) No shit.”