BY: CAITLIN R. KING
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Country stars have done well on “Celebrity Apprentice“: Trace Adkins was runner-up during the show’s first season in 2008, while Clint Black took fifth place the following year.
Still, none has won the title — but John Rich of the duo Big & Rich might change that this season. He’s one of the last four contestants standing, and has won two tasks that he led as project manager.
One person who isn’t surprised with how well Rich is doing is Adkins — he recommended him for the show.
“I knew John would excel in that situation, and he has,” Adkins told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “I think it’s John’s to win, actually. I think he’s got the best shot of anybody, from what I’ve seen.”
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The only way contestants can win money for their charities is by stepping up to be project manager. It’s a risk, because the blame for losing often falls to the team leader.
“Anytime you’re project manager, you could be fired,” said Rich. “You know, it can happen. But I’m there to play for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. My whole goal is to raise more money than anybody in the history of the show, as much as I possibly can.”
Rich, 37, has raised more than $680,000 for St. Jude so far.
“I think probably the best thing that we have going for us, and I’m speaking for country people in general, when we’re put in those situations, nobody expects anything of us,” said Adkins. “Nobody expects us to be any good at it, and so we go in with those low expectations and then when we perform the way we do, I think we sneak up on them.”
Rich said it also helps to stay focused on the reason he’s competing in the first place.
“‘Apprentice’ is a tough show. It’s a tough show to be a part of, but if you’re there for the right reasons, it’s just great,” said Rich. “If you’ve ever been to St. Jude, you’ll never get over it. These kids they need our money.”
Rich has gotten to work with some very colorful characters during his time on “Celebrity Apprentice”, including actor Gary Busey, who was defined on the show for his crazy antics.
“In music, you generally don’t have Gary Busey up in your face like this talking to you. Meat Loaf, Gary Busey, it’s pretty crazy,” he said.
“You get a shot of Crown Royal with music. You get a shot of Gary Busey (with TV),” added Big & Rich’s other half, “Big” Kenny Alphin.
“Celebrity Apprentice” host Donald Trump fired Busey a few weeks back, but Rich says he may have another job for him.
“We should have Gary Busey on the road with Big & Rich. That’s a show,” he said.
The final four “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants are Rich, Meat Loaf, Lil Jon and Marlee Matlin. The season finale airs live on May 22.
Big & Rich’s “Xtreme Muzik” tour starts June 18 in Springfield, Mo.
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