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Meet the 2012 ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ Contestants

Here’s the lowdown on who’s trying to not get fired, from Clay Aiken to Dee Snider

celebrity apprentice

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This Sunday marks the season premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice, the long-running reality competition now in its fifth season for which washed-up celebrities engage in menial tasks to both impress host Donald Trump and reignite whatever small amount of fame they once possessed. And per usual, this season’s cast is stacked with “talent.” Who better to watch trying to impress an egotistical old man than the likes of Clay Aiken, Dee Snider, Aresenio Hall, and Debbie Gibson? So to prepare you for what is sure to be an incredible season, we’ve broken down this year’s contestants and how we think they’ll fare.

By Dan Hyman

celebrity apprentice, Clay Aiken

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Clay Aiken

Age: 33 

Claim To Fame: The doe-eyed North Carolina-native welled America’s hearts with his beatific balladry on Season Two of American Idol. (He ultimately took second-place to Southern big-boy Ruben Studdard). Aiken has since released six full-length albums, performed on Broadway and after coming out as openly gay in 2008, has become an outspoken activist for gay rights.

What To Expect: Don't let the fact that he sings like a mermaid misguide you; if preview clips are any indication, this ginger-topped crooner's got some bite behind that boyish charm. How he matches up with The Donald, however, might be a different story.

celebrity apprentice, Michael Andretti

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Michael Andretti

Age: 49

Claim To Fame: As the son of legendary Indy car racer Mario, and father to young star Marco, Michael Andretti is a true icon in the racing world. He's never won at Indy – a byproduct of the supposed "Andretti curse" – but he's racked up 42 career wins nonetheless.

What To Expect: Stress and adrenaline are in the dude's DNA; something tells us that staring down the gun-barrel-of-doom that is Mr. Trump’s wrath will be nothing when compared to guiding a moving rocket at speeds in excess of 200 mph. Look for Andretti to stick around late in this game.

celebrity apprentice, Adam Carolla

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Adam Carolla

Age: 47

Claim To Fame: This foul-mouthed schlub rose to fame in the Nineties as the Laverne to Dr. Drew's Shirley on MTV's dating call-in show Loveline – that is, if Laverne often came under fire for misogynistic remarks and Shirley was a fame-whore justifying his actions under the guise of medical guidance. Carolla also co-hosted Comedy Central's The Man Show with Jimmy Kimmel, but only one of them was able to use it as a springboard to major success. We’ll let you guess who that was.

What To Expect: Carolla is a reality TV producers' dream: he's loud, obnoxious and doesn't think before he speaks – very similar to the Celebrity Apprentice's host, in fact. Common logic dictates that Carolla's teammates won't put up with his funny-guy shtick, and either will Trump. Chances are we won't be seeing much of Adam.

celebrity apprentice, Tia Carrere

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Tia Carrere

Age: 45

Claim To Fame: She inspired an entire generation of "schwings" as Cassandra, the exotic hottie whom Mike Meyers woos in both 1992's Wayne's World and its sequel. This, however, is where any semblance of "fame" starts and ends for Carrere: Her career highlights since have included a role as a secretary in High School High, a sixth-place finish in Dancing With The Stars and a recurring appearance as Richard Lewis' arm-candy in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

What To Expect: If Celebrity Apprentice has taught us anything, it's that the bombshells can surprisingly hold their own. Then again, personality clashes usually play such a large role on how the female team shakes out, and seeing as we don't exactly have much to work off of as far as Carrere's, you can chalk her up as this season's wild card.

celebrity apprentice, Lou Ferrigno

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Lou Ferrigno

Age: 60

Claim To Fame: This Italian-American behemoth of a human being first gained mainstream attention as the foil to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the laughably amazing bodybuilding film Pumping Iron. (Please watch this if you haven't!) He'd later win America's hearts in 1977 as the title character in The Incredible Hulk, and most recently made a cameo in 2009's I Love You, Man.

What To Expect: Big boys haven't fared particularly well in season’s past (see Jose Canseco and his steroid-y biceps for proof). But Ferrigno has always come across as the teddy-bear type. And much like last season's "OMG, he can actually talk!" revelation about Lil Jon, expect Ferrigno to shed his Hulk-with-no-brains rep. We'll call Lou this season’s dark horse.

celebrity apprentice, Debbie Gibson

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Debbie Gibson

Age: 41

Claim To Fame: In 1988, at 17, with her breakout debut album Out of the Blue, the singer became the youngest artist to write, produce, and perform a Billboard No. 1 single with "Foolish Beat." The former teenybopper has since released eight albums, however none have lived up to Blue’s massive success. Gibson has, however, made appearances in several Broadway plays – most recently starring in a 2008 production of The King and I

What To Expect: As an Eighties star, Gibson surely butted heads with several a slimy record executive, so The Donald shouldn’t phase her. However if we use her sub-par performance on 2006's Skating with Celebrities as a marker of success (which we really shouldn't, but will anyway), Deb's outlook isn't so bright. She should probably know that there are some jams that even a sloppy rendition of an overrated Eighties pop song won't get you out of.

celebrity apprentice, Teresa Giudice

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Teresa Giudice

Age: 39

Claim To Fame: This Italian mom with frizzy hair is best known as a cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey; she also moonlights as a fame-hungry stage mom to her four absurdly spoiled children. Amazingly, she’s also a New York Times "best-selling author" for her two cookbooks: Skinny Italian and Fabulicious!: Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook.

What To Expect: If Real Houswife of Atlanta Nene Leaks' performance last season taught us anything, it's that the catty antics of the housewives won't fly on this merry-go-round; Leaks ended up leaving by her own will. And while we don't see Giudice going down that road, it's as good a bet as any that this loudmouth will be engaging in many a verbal battle.

celebrity apprentice, Victoria Gotti

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Victoria Gotti

Age: 49

Claim To Fame: Growing up the daughter of famed mobster John Gotti, this Brooklynite is no stranger to feeling the heat. In addition to starring in the A&E reality series Growing Up Gotti, Victoria also has written for the New York Post and authored five novels.

What To Expect: While perhaps it's unfair to compare Donald to Victoria's late father, we still will: both men possess(ed) the knack for doing what it takes to get the job done at all costs. Therefore, we think Gotti will jive well with Mr. Trump. Teresa Giudice? Not so much. This is undoubtedly a catfight waiting to go down!

celebrity apprentice, Arsenio Hall

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Arsenio Hall

Age: 56

Claim To Fame: Starring opposite Eddie Murphy in 1988's Coming to America solidified this Cleveland native as a staple of Eighties comedy. But it was his long-running talk show that made him an icon. Unfortunately, since its cancellation in 1994, time hasn’t treated Hall particularly well: his most notable role in recent years was as the punchline in a Chappelle Show gag. 

What To Expect: Given the tension that generally divides teams in this competition, Hall's quick wit may prove useful to lighten the mood. Even Trump enjoys a laugh on occasion. Then again, other contestants might be wise to not place too much trust in Aresnio: after all, back in 1992 he did proclaim that he was going to "kick Jay's ass" in the ratings game after Leno was named the host of The Tonight Show. Yeah. About that…

celebrity apprentice, Penn Jillette

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Penn Jillette

Age: 56

Claim To Fame: Along with fellow magician Raymond Teller, Jillete is one-half of the wildly successful magic-meets-comedy duo Penn & Teller, who headline shows in Las Vegas and have made appearances on several television programs. They’ve also hosted their own documentary-style show on Showtime, Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, which lasted for eight seasons before ending in 2010.

What To Expect: Despite being the first contestant voted out on 2008’s rendition of Dancing With The Stars, Jillete's congenial nature will surely suit him well come crunch-time on Celebrity Apprentice. But then again this is the same man who invented the Jill-Jet – a hot-tub jet specially angled for a woman's pleasure – and also proclaimed that global warming may be a farce. So, really, all bets are off.

celebrity apprentice, Lisa Lampanelli

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Lisa Lampanelli

Age: 50

Claim To Fame: Believe it or not, before rising to acclaim as a raunchy stand-up comedian, Lampanelli was an assistant and fact-checker right here at Rolling Stone. These days though, she's best known as the lone recurring female presence on Comedy Central's infamous roasts where she’s generally stereotyped as a horny loudmouth.

What To Expect: This is one lady with major cajones. Quite simply, her roast appearances are proof that Lampanelli can take an insult, swallow it, and spit it right back at 'cha. This is one contestant the others should be keeping their eye on. Lampanelli means business.

celebrity apprentice, Dayana Mendoza

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Dayana Mendoza

Age: 25

Claim To Fame: This beauty queen, after being named Miss Venezuela in 2007, racked up the title of Miss Universe only a year later. In an unsurprising revelation, we discovered she's signed to Trump Model Management; this likely explains why she was cast despite being relatively unknown to most Americans. 

What To Expect: Something tells us Mendoza is not the brightest bulb; her time may therefore be limited. Perhaps we got this vibe because Velasquez, the youngest contestant on the show, stated during a 2009 visit to Guantanamo Bay that it was "a relaxing place.”

celebrity apprentice, Aubrey O'Day

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Aubrey O’Day

Age: 28

Claim To Fame: This blonde bombshell, who caught Diddy's eye during Season Three of MTV's Making The Band, is best known as the former lead singer of girl group Danity Kane. She didn't last long, however; Diddy dismissed her from the group after it became painfully obvious she was only self-interested. Now she’s the star of the fittingly titled Oxygen-network reality show All About Aubrey, and is also prepping her solo debut for release later this year.

What To Expect: Unlike the other beauties in the cast, O'Day is a seriously promising contender – if for no other reason than girl's got some major sass. And we also think anyone who’s worked for Diddy is well-equipped to deal with the megalomaniacal beast that is Donald Trump.

celebrity apprentice, Dee Snider

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Dee Snider

Age: 56

Claim To Fame: As the frontman of hair-metal giants Twisted Sister, Snider embodies all that was (and is) beautiful about this musical era – from his outsize personality to his larger-than-life looks consisting of long locks, excessive eye shadow, rouge and bright red lipstick.

What To Expect: You can call Snider many things, but a quitter is certainly not one of them. Despite two decades having passed since his band's peak, Snider has somehow managed to remain (marginally) relevant. If his never-ending battle to stay in the limelight is proof, this is one man who won't go down without a fight.

celebrity apprentice, George Takei

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George Takei

Age: 74

Claim To Fame: This Japanese-American actor is a legend to sci-fi nerds everywhere, thanks to his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsmen of the USS Enterprise, on Star Trek.

What To Expect: He may have played a straight-shooter on TV, but the season's oldest contestant is a certified wiseass: Friend him on Facebook and expect to be inundated with excessive posts aiming for something reminiscent of humor. This lightheartedness may not make for a long stay on Celebrity Apprentice, however; Trump isn't generally keen on smart-alecs.

celebrity apprentice, Paul Teutul, Sr.

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Paul Teutul, Sr.

Age: 62

Claim To Fame: This tatted-up titan of a man with a killer Fu Manchu mustache is the founder of Orange County Choppers and the central character in the reality series American Chopper. He also is a certified badass.

What To Expect: Watch even one episode of Chopper and it becomes clear Teutul has a short temper and a hard nose for business. Whether or not his fiery attitude and penchant for yelling at others will serve him well on Apprentice remains to be seen. Chances are he's an all-or-nothing type of contestant.

celebrity apprentice, Cheryl Tiegs

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Cheryl Tiegs

Age: 64

Claim To Fame: As the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl on three separate occasions in the Seventies and Eighties, Tiegs established herself as a modeling icon. In recent times, she's served as a judge on ABC's True Beauty and yes, even has her own line of wigs for Revlon.

What To Expect: The fact that Tiegs has disposed of four husbands during her lifetime signals that she's a no-BS kind of’ gal. Also working in her favor is the fact that Trump grew up during her modeling heyday; chances are he's already an admirer of her work.

celebrity apprentice, Patricia Velasquez

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Patricia Velasquez

Age: 41

Claim To Fame: This long-legged lady is widely considered to be the first Latin supermodel. And like Tiegs, Velasquez is also a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue alumnus. Back in 1992, she appeared in the Red Hot Chili Peppers video for "Breaking The Girl," which is completely meaningless, but nonetheless amazing.

What To Expect: Velasquez should hope for challenges that require the use of other languages: she's fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish. But seeing as this is almost certainly unlikely to happen as the show is broadcast in English, not much is working in Velasquez’s favor

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