As the Miss USA pageant owner, the ubiquitous mogul makes it his mission every year to shed light on the country’s hottest young ladies, preferably in swimsuits and evening wear. So it makes perfect sense that he’d populate his other multimedia ventures with gorgeous specimens. Take his hit reality gameshow Celebrity Apprentice, for example; past seasons have included Playboy Playmate Tiffany Fallon and Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks. The man obviously has good taste.
The latest season of Celebrity Apprentice continues Trump’s generosity toward male viewers with the presence of Hope Dworaczyk, Playboy’s 2010 Playmate of the Year (the first-ever 3D centerfold). The Texas native has also walked international fashion runways, co-hosted E!’s Inside Fashion, and dated NBA star Jason Kidd.
On Celebrity Apprentice, she’s faced with her biggest challenge yet: not absorbing too much of the crazy being exuded by the show’s most eclectic and unhinged cast to date. Among the bizarre players are the certifiably insane Gary Busey, MLB pariah Jose Canseco, crunk master Lil Jon, and La Toya Jackson.
Crazy is cool, but naturally our DVRs are set to watch Dworaczyk in action. Complex talked shop with the Playmate turned reality star, covering everything from the lunacy of Celebrity Apprentice to how Charlie Sheen makes her job harder.
Hope Dworaczyk Interview
Complex: Did Donald Trump personally request that you join this new season?
Hope Dworaczyk: Well, they reached out to me, but, crossing paths almost a year ago, I had met somebody from his team at [Las Vegas nightclub] XS, at Encore. He said, “Hope, meet somebody,” and it was Donald Trump. So I had met The Donald and his wife there; very shortly after that, the producers called to set up a meeting. They said, “We have a hand-written note from The Donald saying to check you out for the show.” So I had to go in and talk to them and they asked me lots of questions. You know, like business background questions, and then silly stuff. Then they ended up calling me two weeks later to be on the show.
So his own employees actually call him “The Donald”?
Hope Dworaczyk: [Laughs.] Yeah, it’s funny. One of his righthand men, Chuck LaBella [Celebrity Apprentice talent producer] calls him The Donald, and I always laugh. Yeah, The Donald is an interesting man.
Was that first meeting with him intimidating?
Hope Dworaczyk: It was kind of like, “What is Donald Trump doing in a Vegas nightclub like this?” [Laughs.] And you just wonder what happens at his table. You definitely know you’re not buying drinks if you’re with The Donald. But it was really cool. Once they reached out to me about the show, the producer said, “Look, he wrote your name with a Sharpie marker on a note, so we have to do this meeting.” So I went in to meet with him, and I was so sick. I was literally on my way to the doctor, but they were like, “No, I really think you need to make this meeting.”
Prior to all of that, were you one of the millions of people who consider Celebrity Apprentice to be a huge guilty pleasure?
Hope Dworaczyk: I watched the very first The Apprentice, but it wasn’t a Celebrity Apprentice. When I told my mom that they wanted me to be on Celebrity Apprentice, though, she was like, “Are you kidding me? That’s my favorite show!” She was really excited about it, which made me more excited about it.
Having never watched it, then, you must’ve been unprepared for all of the catfights and drama.
Hope Dworaczyk: Yeah, and you’ll see, I think I lasted a lot longer than the people who’ll be known for doing that. I would be taking notes and really trying to think of creative plans, whether it was the marketing or whatever I was in charge of, and little did I realize it’s all about the silliness that’s happening—it’s not about the business stuff. So that part, as much as you would get fired for making a wrong business move, it’s just as much about the drama, which I did not know going in.
I chose to get naked on the cover of Playboy. I didn’t resort to the career I’m in.
Hope Dworaczyk: Yeah. Well, I’m just not the person who will ever, ever go and have a screaming match; I won’t do it in my own home, and I won’t do it on national television. I think it’s just the type of person you are—if you can explode like that with tons of cameras around you, then you’re probably nuts in your own home. [Laughs.]
You’ve said that one of the reasons you wanted to do the show was to prove that models aren’t all about the good looks. Have you had trouble getting people to take you seriously?
Hope Dworaczyk: After I meet somebody and they have a conversation with me, they always say, “Wow, that’s not what I was expecting.” But really, you’re sometimes put in a group because you look a certain way, like you couldn’t have done anything else. I chose to walk a runway in sheer blouses, and then I chose to get naked on the cover of Playboy. So it was a decision; I didn’t resort to the career I’m in. I could’ve done anything else. I could’ve become a dentist. I do have two medical spas in Texas, but I could’ve become a fulltime business owner. So sometimes people feel like, “Oh, she had to get naked to make it,” but no, I could’ve done anything. I just chose to do it this way.
So what made you choose to use the sex appeal to your advantage, then?
Hope Dworaczyk: Because I didn’t want to sit behind a desk every day and do the same. As much as I can respect people who do that… My family is all working class, and work hard every single day. But I never wanted to do that, so if it was in my power to do something other than that, I was gonna go for it. I didn’t want to stay in my hometown of 10,000 people. I was born 5’10” and thin, and I had a body from the time I was 12 years old. It just made sense.
Do you think the show will prove all of this about you, in light of the rampant fights and silliness?
Hope Dworaczyk: I think so. I’m quiet in the beginning, as you’ll see if you watch it. But towards the end, you’ll see that I end up kicking a little bit of ass. [Laughs.]
And this season’s cast has plenty of insane ass to kick. This could be the most bizarre mix of celebs The Donald has assembled yet.
Hope Dworaczyk: It’s funny, we’re not supposed to know who else is in the cast until the first night, at this welcoming party. But in L.A., with people sharing the same agents—like, I have the same agent as Lil Jon and John Rich. So, you end up hearing about who’s doing the show. And then Meatloaf and I have the same manager. It’s such a small world in L.A., even though it doesn’t seem like it should be. But, yeah, it’s a pretty wild group.
Gary Busey seems like he’s the craziest person in Hollywood. How strange was he in reality?
Hope Dworaczyk: He’s so fun, and you know what? He’s so sweet. He says some really off-the-wall things, but he’s such a kind man, even though he doesn’t seem like it. Like, you can actually have a legitimate conversation with him, but then in the middle of the conversation he’ll go off and tell you how he knew you 35,000 years ago in Atlantis. [Laughs.] But he was one of my favorite people on the show; when everyone wouldn’t talk to him, and learned to hate him, he was one of my favorite people still. I just like energy, and I like his energy for some reason.
Speaking of energy, you mentioned Lil Jon already. Have you gotten low to his music in the past? Or is hip-hop not your thing?
Hope Dworaczyk: No, that is my style of music, actually. I totally listened to Lil Jon. I was really excited that he was going to be on the show. He’s just a master marketer—he’s marketed his brand so that you know when you see dreads and sunglasses and his smile, you know it’s him. He’s really smart with marketing. He and I have had this conversation, actually. Going in, he knew that people would underestimate him, the same way I knew that people would underestimate me. They don’t think that somebody who gets naked on the cover of Playboy, or somebody who yells and raps, can be smart enough. But to really make it in this industry, you have to have some wit to you.
Why do you think people immediately jump to those conclusions?
Hope Dworaczyk: Because they see the superficial side; they don’t see the side behind the scenes, when there are negotiations going on between the celebrity and his or her manager, and they’re saying “No” to something. They just end up seeing what’s in US Weekly or some kind of gossip, tabloid-y stuff online. They see you on your way to get a coffee at Starbucks, but they don’t see the actual work that you do. People underestimate celebrities just because they’re celebrities. But that’s not to say that there aren’t any idiots, because there are a lot of idiots out here.
Two words: Charlie Sheen.
Hope Dworaczyk: Yeah, and I look at people like that and I think, “How fucking unappreciative are you?” You have the world given to you; you have more than what most people will ever make in their lives, and you’re making it in an episode, and you ruin it for so many people that worked with him. It’s really disgusting that news outlets even talk about him still. He was such a train wreck that people wanted to watch it, and that’s what’s wrong with the world, I think. I’m really glad that everything that’s happening in Japan finally overshadowed Charlie Sheen, because even after the Oscars everybody was just talking about Charlie Sheen. They couldn’t find anything else to talk about, and finally I turned on CNN and there was something else being talked about.
The Donald looked right at me and said, 'I don’t know what to say—I have the best hair in the room.'
Hope Dworaczyk: That’s true, which I definitely wasn’t expecting. It’s just human nature. But nothing on the show is anywhere near as bad as Charlie Sheen. [Laughs.]
What’s interesting about reality television, though, is that the editors can manipulate the footage to make someone seem like they’re a villain, or saying dumb things. For instance, your NBC promo video [seen below] is spliced together to make you look a little foolish. Is that sense of vulnerability tough to handle at times?
Hope Dworaczyk: Oh yeah, absolutely. And if you have that one moment where you say something crazy, or you talk out loud, they will play the right kind of music, or they will make someone’s face look at you with a paused look. [Laughs.] They have the ability to do a lot, so that’s a little bit scary and nerve-wracking as I’m watching the show.
There’s the bit in the NBC promo video where you say that you’re willing to do anything to win, but then the next clip shows you telling the group that you won’t do Photoshop. Stuff like that is clearly manipulated to make you look a certain way, no?
Hope Dworaczyk: Yeah, and that’s a little scary, but I think the tone of the promo, and the show as a whole, is light enough for people to understand what’s really going on. There’s another part of that video, which I think airs in the third episode, where me and Niki Taylor came up with this slogan for the project we had, and we wrote that it was the “21st century” as part of the slogan. All of the sudden, you’re double-checking facts, because that’s obviously something that would get you fired, if you identified the wrong century. So we actually Googled it, just to make sure; the cameras are on you, so you don’t want to do anything wrong or stupid so you’re constantly double-checking everything. So in that promo clip, they caught us checking that on Google and it seems like we didn’t know what the hell we’re talking about. [Laughs.] There’s nothing we can do about it, though.
Well, if people think you don’t know anything about the 21st century now, as a result, you can always watch Comedy Central’s roast of Donald Trump [that airs tomorrow night]. Are you going to watch that?
Hope Dworaczyk: Yeah, I definitely will. It’s going to be great. I love Jeffrey Ross; he’s one of my good friends. So I’m really excited to see what he has lined up for The Donald. [Laughs.]
If they would’ve asked you to get on stage and roast him, would you have done it? And if so, what would your knockout joke be?
Hope Dworaczyk: Hell yeah! I find comedy in everything. I think I’m a funny person, and I appreciate comedy. So yeah, I’d be totally into that. I don’t know what exactly I’d say to him, but there was one time when we were filming and he looked right at me and said, “I don’t know what to say—I have the best hair in the room.” And he was looking right at me and I have pretty long hair. [Laughs.] That’s something that I’m sure I could really use to my advantage in a roast. I’d definitely take some digs at how he fixes his hair. I mean, there’s so much comedy gold there.