With a personal drama going on, what made you continue to do the show?
My wife is so tough, man. There was no way she was going to let me leave Celebrity Apprentice when I was there competing to raise money for lupus awareness and research on behalf of The Garvan Institute of Medical Research. I was talking to her all the time and my family was all around to support her, too. But like I say, she is tough. She got through two seasons of me being away doing Survivor when we had absolutely no contact during the show. At least on Apprentice, I had my phone and I could check in with her.
Is your wife’s lupus diagnosis new?
Relatively new. There are markers that doctors spot when you have a blood test and it can rear its ugly head in different ways, but a lot of other people will present with different symptoms so it can be tricky to get a diagnosis. That’s why I really wanted to help bring attention to lupus on the show.
You must’ve felt so torn …
For sure! I think in some of the earlier episodes and in some of the publicity photos I did, you can see the stress on my face. It was rough.
Did it make you more determined than ever to win the series?
Absolutely, I only like to do competitive reality TV. I call Celebrity Apprentice “Survivor in the City”. I liked the fact I was going up against Lord Sugar as well as the other celebrities. I’m so glad I ended up staying because I’ve already won some money for The Garvan Institute.
Do you think the fact you’ve played Survivor twice and won it once was an advantage for you?
For sure. I don’t think all of the celebrities were aware of the gamesmanship that’s needed for this show. Some took boardroom critiques so personally, while others knew the score. Martha [Kalifatidis] is so great, she understands how TV works and she doesn’t get bent out of shape over how she’s edited into the show.
Did you know any of the other celebs?
I knew Janine Allis, of course, from Survivor but she blindsided me when she turned out to be one of Lord Sugar’s advisors. I know Camilla [Franks] and I knew of The Veronicas. They may be tiny but they are serious heavy hitters.
For more, pick up the latest issue of WHO, on sale now!