Time started moving in slow motion for Arsenio Hall when Donald Trump named him the winner of “The Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC Sunday (May 20) night, but the win and publicity surrounding the show could potentially put his return to show business on the fast track.
Arsenio tells Zap2it Monday that his business manager has been on the phone all morning following the former late-night host’s big win.
“And I hope it’s more than Walgreens,” Arsenio jokes, referring to one of the show’s featured sponsors during the season.
Arsenio beat out fellow finalist and “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken, but there’s no bad blood between these two, who dueted on a performance of “Lean On Me” during the live finale. But what about between Arsenio and Aubrey O’Day, with whom he famously had a falling out during the season?
See what Arsenio tells Zap2it about his big win, a possible return to late-night television and how he has no desire to “stir the turd” with Aubrey.
Were you surprised when Trump said your name?
There’s that moment where it happens, and I don’t even know how to describe it to people. It’s like when audio guys do things in a movie and it’s like slow motion. It’s like my life stopped. And maybe I wanted it to stop because it was like the greatest moment ever. All I could think was make your friends proud.
People were saying that it was a classy finale. And I wanted that to go right to closing credits. The one thing I knew was that Batman should hug Robin.
So that makes you Batman?
You mentioned the possibility of a new late-night show. Is that in the works?
I said to myself when I wrote a letter to Paramount and resigned [from “The Arsenio Hall Show” in 1994], I want to try some other things … I want to have kids. There was a time when I thought I couldn’t have children and it was a misdiagnosis of that. [Arsenio now has a 12-year-old son.] … I haven’t done it yet, but I’d like to tell Paramount, I’d like to come home.
Do you think you potentially had more to gain from winning than Clay?
Clay feels that his purpose for coming was achieved by being there till the end … to tell people, “I’m not just a singer … I’m a smart guy.” … Clay is a funny guy. The funniest s— Clay says is the stuff that you all don’t hear. He walked past me one day, and he said, “She’s as useless as a piano in the kitchen.” … One day, we were trying to decide who had the higher SAT scores between two people on the show. And he says, “Now that one is as useless as the pocket on the back of your shirt.” … That is one f—ed-up pocket.
So Clay can do comedy and you can sing.
I don’t think people realize one of the worst parts of doing a show like “Celebrity Apprentice” is it’s almost devoid of music. It’s the clearance issues. You can’t work with a boom box on, you can’t put Pandora on a computer while you’re in the war room. When Penn Jillette wants to mess up the show, he starts singing “Hey Jude,” because he knows they won’t air it — they can’t get the clearance.
All we had was me, Dee [Snider] and Clay singing and harmonizing. … At one point Clay said, “I think you can sing, and one day we’re going to do something.” We wanted to sing a song and put it on iTunes and sell it for charity. But someone caught wind of it [and asked us to sing it for the finale.] I am not singing a duet with the singing-est motherf—– on the planet on national television. … It’s like playing one-on-one with Magic Johnson. You kind of don’t remember it; you’re just so scared.
Has your opinion of Aubrey changed at all after seeing the show play out?
It’s not an opinion I have about her … I have no idea to stir the turd. It’s a game and the game is over. But last night [at the finale] she didn’t speak and she had all her bodyguards.
I read all of Donald Trump’s books — that was [former “Celebrity Apprentice” winner] Piers Morgan’s advice to me before coming here — and Donald Trump is unforgiving of people who let people walk all over you. When people disrespect you and mistreat you, he believes in crushing them. … The bottom line is I was afraid of losing his respect for allowing some of the things — the most egregious things that I objected to were things that weren’t even able to be shown on NBC.
For more on the things we didn’t see that Aubrey allegedly did on the show, check out Arsenio’s interview with “The View” ladies.