« Previous Post | Show Tracker Home | Next Post »

Dionne Warwick speaks up about 'Celebrity Apprentice': In tune or sour note?

Dionne Dionne Warwick hit the top of the charts in 1985 alongside Steve Wonder, Elton John and Gladys Knight with "That's What Friends Are For," a rousing ode to friendship. One of the key lines of the song spoke of sticking together "through the good times and the bad times."

But some fans of NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" feel the legendary songstress may be singing a different tune these days, given her "firing" following several tense moments in the most recent installment of the reality show, which pits celebrities against one another as they play for their respective charities.

Donald Trump appeared irritated with Warwick ("You did the wrong thing") when she challenged him to fire her after several teammates criticized her. Instead of exiting quietly, Warwick confronted startled "project manager" NeNe Leakes ("The Real Housewives of Atlanta"), calling her "a coward."

TV Guide labeled Warwick "a bully" while the Radar OnLine website said she "acted like a petulant child."  

"Celebrity Apprentice" may have pulled a reverse whammy on Warwick. While several former participants such as Piers Morgan, Bret Michaels, Holly Robinson Peete and Joan Rivers have received boosts in their careers, some observers have speculated on whether Warwick may have tarnished her treasured legacy with her stint on the series.

Don't even think of suggesting that to Warwick, who is celebrating he 50th year in show business with a new CD of Sammy Cahn standards, "Only Trust Your Heart," and her memoir, "My Life as I See It."

Summing up her experience on the show as "in a word, interesting," Warwick in a phone interview said that she didn't feel her reputation was damaged, and that her only regret was not winnng any money for her charity, the Hunger Project.

"My legacy has already been built," Warwick said. "This show didn't do anyting but give me airtime. It didn't hurt me whatsoever." As for younger viewers who may be less familiar with Warwick, "there's this silly thing called a computer. There's too much information on what I've done and will continue to do."

Indeed, Warwick's huge list of hits, including  "Alfie," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Then Came You," "Walk On By, "Heartbreaker" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" securely places her among popular music's most enduring giants. Even the controversy during the 1990s surrounding her association with the Psychic Friends Network is mostly forgotten.

But Warwick made it clear during the first episodes of "Celebrity Apprentice" that even among outsized personalities such as Leakes, LaToya Jackson, fallen TV talk-show host Star Jones, and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, she was not going to be a shrinking violet. At one point, she called herself "the matriarch" of the female team.

"Most of the women there I didn't know beforehand," Warwick said. "The only ones I knew were Star and LaToya. The others were kind of alien to me. My persona is what it is. I needed to let them know if you stepped on this big toe, I will say 'Ouch.' That should have been clear from the get-go. I will not bite my tongue."

In the first few episodes, Warwick was shown clashing with Matlin and supermodel Niki Taylor. She was also depicted as having difficulty with various tasks such as working a cash register, and also not being as energetic as other team members.

The singer said the depiction of her in the show "was not accurate. But it's their show."

In the most recent episode, the two teams were pitted against each other in making a commercial for ACN, a global communications company. When it came time to edit the commercial, Warwick indicated she wanted to go rest instead of staying to assist in the editing bay.

Said Warwick: "We had finished everything and there was no reason for me to stay. The team leader was there to do what needed to be done. I asked her if it was OK for me to go back to the hotel, and she said yes. "

During the boardroom discussion, Leakes told Trump that Warwick told her she was leaving.

"For her to deny I had asked her really got under my skin," Warwick said. "She had to lie."

When other team members also turned on her, Warwick decided to leave: "I felt like we were going down a road I wasn't used to traveling. It was about dignity, and I decided to fire myself. It was getting to the point where this 50-year-old career would have been in jeopardy, and I was not going to let that be tampered with. It was best for those ladies to do what they do and leave me out of it."

Despite her run-ins, Warwick said she is looking forward to reuniting with the cast in the season finale.

"I'm sure it will be a completely positive experience," Warwick said.


Full Show Tracker coverage of "Celebrity Apprentice"

-- Greg Braxton

 Photo credit: Larry Busacca / Getty Images 


Comments () | Archives (22)

Hey, Dionne the Diva!
Even a pimple faced high schooler failing math can figure out how to work a cash register.
Why not you?

Her Psychic Friends (who tarnished her career) should have warned her...

all i can saw to you dionne is shame-shame- shame people will always remember that show. is that - what friends are for - that song sure came back to bite you.

That stupid show won't touch Warwick's legacy. In terms of her age, she was the matriarch of the group. She was tired and that's why she left early. NeNe should change her name to NinNy. She was a coward for not asking Warwick to stay if it bothered her so much. She was manager. It's hilarious that Greg Braxton ponders whether the world will turn against Warwick after everything Warwick has accomplished.

Dionne is a Legend......She won many Grammy awards. So she's getting old & grumpy....she should have behaved nicer....But, she is STILL a legend!

eh-only know her from psychic friends and im almost 40-i just saw an old, black, grumpy lady who needed to be fired!!

I typically watch this show each season but quit this year after the second episode. The bullying, manipulating and lying actually made me physically ill--reminded me too much of my former work environment.

Needless to say, I'm glad to read Dionne Warwick is off. If Star Jones, another first-class bully gets voted off, I may start watching again. There's a fine line between being assertive and bullying behavior and both the bully and his/her victim know when it's been crossed. Sadly, the bully has no reason to change as his/her behavior is typically rewarded at the expense of the victim.

As for Dionne's age being an excuse to do less, remember Joan Rivers on the show who worked as hard as her decades-younger colleagues, never once using her age as an excuse to slack off.

She's a 'has-been'! She was horrible on CELEBRITY APPRENTICE.

As a person w/ a disability, I was appalled by how she treated Marlee Matlin. Ms. Warwick wouldn't even look at Marlee when she was talking. Should I ignore Dionne because of her age, gender, or race? I guess, to her, disabled don't deserve the same respect and dignity as others!

Dionne doesn't care about hungry kids. If she did, she would've fought to stay on.

She needs to retire from the public eye and just live off her royalties!

She should have never gone on that show. She showed how nasty and self-important she really is.

Dionne Warwick is a pop music legend. However after viewing her actions on the show she is clearly ghetto style mean, with an out of control ego. The woman was past her prime decades ago. For he to play the star diva card at an advanced age & without any real pop culture currency in the past 25 years, is amazing. She is truly a bit--, with a bad attitude. Truly an arrogant old bag.

I love Dionne. She sassy and doesn't take madness... She was quite entertaining.. I'm a fan for life...So what if she was slow using a cash register.. She can sing and that's all I care about... Celebrity Apprentice has drama hitting back and forth..... See, reality TV shows are edited and sliced together according to whatever the producers/network wishes...So this show won't hurt her career one bit.. I can't wait to see her in concert again... For every hater there's a lover.. I love you Dionne and you STILL are a SUPERSTAR!!!!! :D For you haters, WALK ON BY.... DON'T STOP... ha ha Sing it Miss Warwick... :D

Hey Dionne I'll be happy to show you the way to San Jose

And do not mention Marlee Matlin - she is just as irritating as the others when it comes to much attention over nothing. One Academy Award eons ago and a few other types of nominations here and there and all of a sudden she sets the standard for others??? She uses her deafness like a fiddle and everyone must dance. Has anyone taken the time to look at Warwick's encyclopedia of stellar artistic accomplishments over the span of 50-years? It is stunningly awesome. Much is to be blamed on the editing of the shows because I truly believe that it pitted Warwick against the "team" on purpose. They already knew that you do not mix Dionne with nonsense, and ASAP is definitely a bunch of that. And before anyone falsely accuses Warwick of being a viper, they should wait to tune in for the rest of ASAP's tenure. These "lovely ladies" are bound to teach us the meaning of the word like never before.

Dionne said it like it is. I give her great credit for purposefully giving Trump the choice to fire her. In fact, she ended up being the one to set him up because she probably knew him well enough to know that you do not challenge his ego. So, she got what she wanted while he looked like the supreme egoist for firing her over the childish reason that she seemingly "challenged" him. What does supposedly "challenging" him have to do with the truth of what went on with the "team" and all the twisted claims against Warwick? Nothing. After all his propaganda on the sacredness of "teamwork", he wastes no time in throwing it overboard for the sake of his ego. He had no good reason to fire her. Why on earth should Dionne Warwick or anybody with any kind of self-respect continue to choose to live among unified rats posing as a "team"? How dare anyone compare her to the wannabes on ASAP? What really has any one of the other women given to our culture but a bunch of loud mouths and hype.

Dionne Warwick is a legend and she derserved to be treated like one, If everything fake Joan Rivers can be than Dionne Warwick deserved twice that amount.

legend? Were talking about the psychic network lady....? Someone who hasnt had a hit in 25 years? c'mon people.....when she showed up on Apprentice I was like...are you sure THIS is the CELEBRITY one?

Warwick is according to Billboard the second most charted singer of the rock era - right after Aretha Franklin. And she is know all over the planet, she is definitely a legend here in Europe.

Dionne was a REAL disappointment, shame on you for acting like a "Queen" and then blaming everyone else for your shortcomings. My 7 year old twins are more mature then you acted...

Dionne lost my respect when the team made the children's book and she wanted HER name on the front...got quite upset because HER name wasn't listed for the concept. I believe it should have been the team name (like it was). Also, I've rewatched the episode where she gets fired and she TOLD Nene she was leaving the editing. Nene says "oh, you're going?"! Like Nene says, 'she's not a baysitter'. I think it was about time for Dionne to go, but I still respect her music.

she showed her true colors how sad

1 2 | »


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: