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Vivica A. Fox: I admire Donald Trump’s honesty

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Donald Trump has done it again — assembled quite the motley crew for his latest edition of Celebrity Apprentice.

NBC recently announced the lineup of 16 personalities who will compete for their favorite charities as the reality show returns for a new season in the boardroom on Jan. 4.

Baseball’s Johnny Damon, TV journalist Geraldo Rivera and mother of eight Kate Gosselin will be among the contestants. Others on tap include Deadliest Catch fisherman Sig Hansen, ex-NFL-er Terrell Owens, actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, musician Kevin Jonas and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson. Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson, TV personality Leeza Gibbons, reality star Brandi Glanville and former cast member of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kenya Moore. Rounding out the rivals are actors Lorenzo Lamas, Ian Ziering and his former 90210 costar and current Sharknado 2 buddy Vivica A. Fox.

We spoke to Fox, who will represent her charity, Best Buddies, at its annual gala Friday night at the Fontainebleau.

How was your experience on “Celebrity Apprentice” overall?

I mean, not everyone, but I think [actors] are so used to taking constructive criticism from producers and directors that we know how to bend. Not everyone bends as easily as others; that’s what I found out. I found that just being honest with Mr. Trump was [key] and not trying to sugarcoat if things didn’t go well, to take responsibility and to learn from each task. I just felt for me my strongest tool for survival in the board room was honesty. But don’t come at me crazy, boo!

How did you prepare yourself for this kind of challenge?

I asked a couple of people that had been on there in the past from Star Jones to Holly Robinson Peete to Mark McGrath what was it like. And the first thing that they all said is, ‘Be prepared to work.’ So I thought, ‘OK, you’ve got to be mentally tough and physically tough to endure this.’

You’ve done “Dancing with the Stars” also. What’s the difference in terms of the experience?

Wow. This was definitely harder. On Dancing with the Stars you got to rehearse like six hours a day but then you got to walk away from it. On Apprentice, we worked like 12 hour days, six days a week and there were some nights that I could barely go to sleep because my brain wouldn't shut off. I was thinking, thinking. We had to turn the tasks around so fast.

Can you tell us any surprising moments in the season?

I think you’ll be shocked to see some of the friendships that develop. Like who works really well with each other and who doesn't. It was also a welcome surprise to find out that I was working with Ian again. It was good some days to see a kind face that I knew. That when it got really tough — and it did get mentally exhausting — just to go over and be able to get a hug or just say, ‘Are you hanging in there?’ I got to know Ian really as a friend outside of a competitor. So I was blessed and very, very happy that we got to do the two projects back-to-back.

What did you learn about yourself?

For me it was patience. I definitely learned to kind of know my place, play my position and stay in my lane. There were times that you were the project manager and had to take the lead, then there were other times that your job was to be an assistant. So that was hard — being that we all are the type of people that are in charge of our careers and run our system.

What was it like working with the Trumps?

This was my first time having that much contact with Mr. Trump, and I found him to be a straight-shooter, which is the kind of person that I like. I found that if you were honest with him and you didn’t try to BS him, that you get along. The whole family have an excellent presence — there's a lot of us that got girl crushes on Ivanka. She was awesome. And oh my God, good shoes.

Can you talk about your charity?

I was introduced to Best Buddies through Olympian Carl Lewis years ago and I fell in love with the Kennedy and Shriver family who work very, very hard to provide housing and employment opportunities for kids and adults with special needs. It lets you look at the things that we take for granted: getting up, going to work, having someone take you serious, have someone look at your talent and not look at you because you have a special need and let it be a detriment. I was proud to represent them.

MADELEINE MARR

Info: A Best Buddies 62-mile bicycle ride begins at 7 a.m. at Marlins Park, followed by a Southeast Asia-themed gala at 7 p.m. bestbuddies.org.

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