It should've been obvious after Trace Adkins' episode 2 Celebrity Apprentice task--during which he provided the baritone narration for a pet-adoption PSA with what his teammate Gene Simmons called "the voice of God"--that this country star would make it all the way to the show's season finale.
With his authoritative voice and attitude to match, Trace was certainly bound to trump (pun intended) most of his competition. After all, despite his early Celebrity Apprentice exit, Gene Simmons is one shrewd businessman, and Gene knows a winner when he sees one. And he saw one in Trace.
However, tonight on the Celebrity Apprentice finale, Trace unexpectedly lost to America's Got Talent (and Britain's Got Talent) "mean judge," Piers Morgan. But if you look at NBC.com's poll, the results of which overwhelmingly predicted that Trace would win, it's clear he won viewers' hearts.
So now that show is over, Trace is free to talk about his friendship with tongue-waggling Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, Donald Trump's hair, the charity that inspired him to sign up for Celebrity Apprentice in the first place, and what he really thinks of reality TV in general.
Read on to continue your Apprenticeship...
TRACE: (deep, DEEP voice) Hello, Lyndsey.
REALITY ROCKS: Oh, there's that voice. The "voice of God"!
TRACE: Ha ha. Oh, that's funny.
REALITY ROCKS: You do have great voice. Gene Simmons was right!
TRACE: Well, thank you.
REALITY ROCKS: What did you think when Gene said your voice played a key role in winning the pet-adoption PSA challenge?
TRACE: Oh, I thought that was funny. Especially the fact that I recorded that thing on a mic just plugged into a board in a video editing bay. It wasn't done in an audio studio. So I thought it sounded horrible! I thought it sounded thin. I do a lot of voiceover stuff, so I know what it's supposed to sound like. And that's not what it's supposed to sound like! But I appreciated what Gene said. I love Gene. He's awesome. Of all the things that I'll take with me from that experience, one of the things I'll cherish the most is getting to hang out with Gene Simmons. That guy's a trip!
REALITY ROCKS: Did your personalities ever clash, though? You're both sort of alpha-male types.
TRACE: No, not at all, never!
REALITY ROCKS: Is he really like that in real life? Or is he a different person when the cameras are off?
TRACE: No, that pretty much is Gene. But if you can't laugh at it, if you take everything he says and does too seriously, you're missing the point of it all--of how fun it can be to hang out with him and laugh at some of the absolutely ridiculous things he'll say. I laughed at him so much. And he knew that I got it, that I understood what he was saying most of the time. That's just how I always took the stuff Gene said. I thought he was hilarious.
REALITY ROCKS: Who were some of your other favorite castmates?
TRACE: All of those guys, we all got along pretty good, I thought. At least I got along with all of them, because I didn't try to pick any fights with anyone. I went into this thing with the mindset that this was about charity, and that's how I was going to approach it. I kept reminding myself that I'm here representing someone who's much more noble than I am: the people at the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. They're the sweetest, most caring individuals you'll ever meet in your life, and I kept reminding myself that I had to conduct myself accordingly. So I really didn't get into the mudslinging like some of the other folks did.
REALITY ROCKS: It does amaze me how some people on reality shows in general behave. It's almost like they forget they're being filmed!
TRACE: I know! And you do forget at times. Some other people on the show would be like, "I can't believe I just said that! I forgot this mic was on!" And I would tell 'em, "Don't EVER forget that."
REALITY ROCKS: I don't see how you could ever forget when there's all these cameras in your face. How do you ignore something like that?
TRACE: Oh, the cameras are with you all the time, yeah, but you just become accustomed to it, and you do forget about it. Especially when things become tense and you're in the heat of battle, trying to figure out how you're going to accomplish some task, you tend to forget that the cameras are there.
REALITY ROCKS: Had you had any previous experience being filmed 24/7 like that?
TRACE: I've had a crew follow me around on tour, shooting behind-the-scenes stuff. But nothing like this.
REALITY ROCKS: Going back to what you said about the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, tell me about how they inspired you to go on Celebrity Apprentice.
TRACE: Well, when I was first approached to do this show, I just turned 'em down flat. I'm not a reality television fan; I don't watch it. As a matter of fact, the first episode I saw of The Apprentice was when I saw on it! I'd never seen it. I've never really allowed myself to get invested in those kind of shows. So at first I turned them down, but then they stressed to me what an opportunity it could be if I had a charity that was important to me, how I could raise awareness for it. And my 6-year-old little girl has severe food allergies, so I've aligned myself and thrown all my support behind the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, and have been working with them for three or four years now. They do great work, and I do whatever I can to help them.
REALITY ROCKS: So do you have any work experience that prepared you for the tasks and challenges on Celebrity Apprentice?
TRACE: Not really! If there'd been a task where we'd worked on a drilling rig, I'd have known exactly what to do. But unfortunately I didn't get to do that!
REALITY ROCKS: What about in your music career? Surely there must have been some transference of skills there...
TRACE: Well, I think the years of trying to play the political game in the music business probably prepared me better than anything else, for dealing with people with egos and that sort of stuff. So yeah, I guess that was good training.
REALITY ROCKS: Yeah, and Gene Simmons has a sizable ego, so...
TRACE: Ya think? (laughs)
REALITY ROCKS: And Donald Trump too...
TRACE: Oh, no. Trump doesn't have a big ego.
REALITY ROCKS: Are you being serious?
TRACE: Nah, just kidding! Of course he does.
REALITY ROCKS: So what is Trump like in person?
TRACE: You know, I was just happy to learn that that persona you see on TV...well, that's what he's really like! That's him. He's abrupt, and egotistical, sure...but the guy's a billionaire! I mean, he just cuts to the marrow. Whenever he deals with anyone, one-on-one, he's like, "Let's just cut out all the B.S. and get to the marrow of it and deal with it. I've got in important things to do. I'm a billionaire."
REALITY ROCKS: So you know I've got to ask...what does Donald's hair look like up-close?
TRACE: He kept pulling on it all the time, to prove that it's real. He kept talking about it and I was like, "Dude, enough with the hair, OK? Mine's real too. Next!"
REALITY ROCKS: Were you impressed by that hair? It's quite a creation!
TRACE: It is impressive, isn't it? We'd stand outside in the wind sometimes, and it didn't move that much. Neither did Gene's! I think Gene's hair would break if you actually put him in a headlock or something. All his hair would break off.
REALITY ROCKS: All right...I also have to ask you what Omarosa is like.
TRACE: She's hardcore, man. I think I was probably better prepared to deal with her than any of the other contestants, because I've been married three times! I know how to deal with mean women.
REALITY ROCKS: Why do you think the men did so much better than the women this season, overall?
TRACE: I don't know. The first task, Gene just got on the phone and we just raised more money--simple as that. Second task, the client just preferred our commercial. I thought the ladies' commercial was good, I really did. But we had Lennox Lewis, and when you do a commercial like that and you've got the heavyweight champ of the world holding a dog and looking all sappy and sweet...well, that's pretty powerful.
REALITY ROCKS: What were your favorite and least favorite challenges on the show?
TRACE: Any challenges where the contestants had to rely on their rolodexes, I absolutely hated those. There was no test of skill there; you didn't have to be imaginative or creative, it was just who knew the richest people. And I thought that sucked. When we got to be creative and come up with concepts and stuff, marketing-type things, I kind of enjoyed those.
REALITY ROCKS: So how much of this reality show was actual reality...and how much of it was staged or manipulated via creative editing? We all know most reality shows are not 100 percent real...
TRACE: Oh, it was real. There's going to be some things where people will say, "C'mon, that was staged," but it wasn't. Every bit of it was real.
REALITY ROCKS: Did being on Celebrity Apprentice whet your appetite to do other reality shows, for charity or whatever?
TRACE: Nah. I can't imagine any other reality show that I would even consider doing. This is it for me.
REALITY ROCKS: So no Osbournes-style show for you, then?
TRACE: I don't think I could stand that, no!
REALITY ROCKS: It would be cool if you and Gene Simmons got your own show...
TRACE: OK, now that would be fun!
REALITY ROCKS: Do you think there is any sort of stigma to being on reality TV?
TRACE: Yes, I definitely do. It appears to me that sometimes it gets viewed as a desperate measure. Like, "OK, my career's in the crapper, so I gotta do this reality television thing." I was really worried that that was how I might be perceived. That was why I initially said, "No, I'm not going to do that. I don't need to!" I hope that I'm not that perceived that way.
REALITY ROCKS: So, has being on this show taught you any business lessons that you might apply to your own career later?
TRACE: Hmmm, not yet. But I can imagine there might come a time when I'd draw on some of those experiences. But not yet!
REALITY ROCKS: What has been the reaction among your country-music peers to this show?
TRACE: Aw, man, I don't think they watch it!
REALITY ROCKS: That's a shame. Well, I was watching, anyway.
TRACE: (deep, DEEP voice) Well, thank you very much.