'I didn't want to be the sex siren': Vivica A. Fox dishes on 'Celebrity Apprentice'​

By Nelson Branco

Life on The Celebrity Apprentice (airing Thursdays on Global) can be a cutthroat business, but it can be rewarding, too – just ask Vivica A. Fox, who has escaped the chopping block (so far) and even made a few friends along the way. “I bonded really well with Leeza Gibbons,” says the actress, reflecting on one of her allies on the show. “She’s just so classy and smart!”

At a recent viewing party, Hello! sat down with the star to find out more about her Apprentice experience, her heyday in Toronto and how she stays fit and fabulous at 50.

Photo: D'Andre Michael

You filmed The Apprentice almost a year ago. What has it been like watching the show now?

I’m glad to see the way they’re editing this. It’s presented the way it went down.

Is there anything that surprised you?
Oh my god… when Geraldo Rivera walked in with his underwear on! Seeing him with just boots and drawers had me rolling on the floor! He’s quite the character. And I had no idea [Real Housewives’] Kenya Moore and Brandi Glanville were fighting the way they were.

Why do you think the show’s ratings are spiking this season?
They really cast a wonderful, alpha group of celebrities. You want to talk egos? [Laughs] Some of the egos are so big, and the way they are colliding makes it a beautiful business soap opera unfolding on camera. The fans love it. Also, seeing glamorous stars working hard with their hands … and getting dirty is a kick for them because some of us are out of our element. It was also fun to see Geraldo and Ian Ziering have all those big cheques roll in. During one challenge, they both brought in more than a half a million dollars for charity. That’s always cool to watch.

Tell us a bit about your relationships on the show. Did you get to reacquaint with old friends?
Yes. My friendship with Ian, for instance, got deeper. Right before Apprentice, we had shot Sharknado 2: The Second One in New York City, so we spent half a year together. My admiration and respect for Ian as a businessman only grew through this experience. And Ian is aging so beautifully! Lorenzo Lamas and I knew each other before, but we got closer, too.

Donald Trump seems really taken with you. Why is that?
Yes! That was a pleasant surprise. I think Mr. Trump liked me more than anyone else because I’m a straight shooter. I never BS’d him and I was always honest with him. I’m also a self-made woman, so he admired that. I think he saw that I’m a survivor.

Did you learn anything about yourself that you didn’t know before?
Honey, [I learned] that I have more patience than I knew! When those women came after me, especially when we were on the all-female team, I almost lost it. They tried to drive me crazy. I’ll tell Hello! readers something no one knows: I almost quit. All the cattiness and conniving was new to me because I don’t live my life like that. I called my manager [and told her], “I can’t do this! I want to quit.” But she said, “You’re not a quitter. You’ve never quit anything.” That stuck with me, and the next morning I woke up and decided to hang in there. And, luckily, after that they switched the teams up! Whew! I had to listen to Pharrell’s “Happy” to get through that time, let me tell you!

Living in Trump Tower must have been glamorous.
Oh, it was fabulous! I’m an Upper West Side kind of girl, so it was great. On my one day off I could go shopping, get my nails done, get a massage – I enjoyed living in that atmosphere.

Joan Rivers made her last TV appearance on the show. What was it like to see her on set?
I was so surprised and thrilled. I knew Joan from the red carpet, but we had no idea she’d be a guest judge! As a past winner, Joan gave me a second wind on the show. [I felt like] if this woman, who was in her 70s, can win this, so can I. Joan actually makes two appearances on Apprentice. She liked me because I was an honest girl.

You’re very fashion-forward on the show. Was that part of your strategy?
Yes! Fashion was a main reason I wanted to do the show. I’m all about styling myself. I love fashion. I wanted to show people my grown woman swag. I didn’t want to be the sex siren people usually see me as. I brought five big luggage cases to New York, from my coats and my bags to my shoes and my dresses. I came prepared!

You turned 50 last summer and you look amazing. What’s your secret?
I’ve always embraced myself and my age. I am who I am. If you put on a false façade, that turns people off. I’ve always admired women like Tina Turner and Sophia Loren, who are like fine wine and only get better with time. They’re my role models. Yes, honey, I’m 50 and fabulous – and I’ll be sexy at 60, sizzling at 70 and awesome at 80! [Laughs]

How are you staying in shape these days?
Water aerobics. That’s become my workout because it’s worked wonderfully for me. The training I got from doing Kill Bill really taught me my moves. I try to do that five times a week. I drink a lot of water. I eat a lot of kale, veggies and seafood. I still have my one cheat day a week where I have my pizza and pasta.

Do you have any beauty tips?
I believe in getting microdermabrasion oxygen facials once a month or cleansing facial twice a month. I love taking steam showers. Water is such an important part of my life: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

You used to live in Toronto, back when you were filming Missing. Do you miss it?
Yeah! I lived at the Four Seasons Hotel for two years and that was the ultimate: Living on the 32nd floor and waking up to that beautiful view every day was awesome. To me, Toronto is a small, clean New York City. I loved the people. I’m coming back this spring. My friend Lucy Kilislian’s Candy Ice jewelry collection is being permanently inducted into the Royal Ontario Museum, so I can’t wait to be a part of the celebrations. I’m the godmother to her baby, Lola. Toronto gave me that special friendship that I’ll cherish forever.

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