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BREAKING: Donald Trump Announces… Celebrity Apprentice Cast

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Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Twisted Sister's Dee Snider wants to rock--the Boardroom.

I know that the NBC publicity department exists to draw attention for NBC’s shows, not for Donald Trump’s political aspirations. I know that the fact that NBC announced the cast of the next Celebrity Apprentice, debuting next month, is probably just coincidence and not an effort by Trump to inject himself, again, into the conversation the morning after the Iowa caucuses. And yet it probably does not hurt NBC that Trump will soon benefit, and probably encourage, another round of speculation that he will run for President as an independent—which he will not, of course, but if history is a guide he will wait until after the season finale to say so. So what better time than a morning that the news is dominated by politics to announce that Trump is working hard to stimulate the economy, by creating jobs for Dee Snider, Debbie Gibson and the stars of American Chopper and The Real Housewives of New Jersey?

Still, the timing’s a shame. Just a day or two more, and he could have had Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann! Excerpts from the announcement after the jump:

NEW YORK, NY – Wednesday, January 4 – Donald Trump, executive producer and star of “Celebrity Apprentice,” announced today the newest and largest-ever lineup of famous faces appearing on the fifth installment of the series, premiering Sunday, February 12 at 9pm EST/PST on NBC.

The men are: late-night legend Arsenio Hall, pop star Clay Aiken, radio host Adam Carolla, the “Incredible Hulk” Lou Ferrigno, magician/comedian Penn Jillette, rock star Dee Snider, actor George Takei, IndyCar legend Michael Andretti, and star of “American Chopper,” Paul Teutul, Sr.

The women are: supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, pop star Debbie Gibson, actress and multi-Grammy winner Tia Carrere, author and reality star Victoria Gotti, comedienne Lisa Lampanelli, former Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, singer and actress Aubrey O’Day, actress and model Patricia Velásquez, and star of “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Teresa Giudice.

[Unsurprisingly grandiose quotations from Trump about the “amazing!” upcoming season redacted.]

All 18 business-savvy celebrity contestants will compete with the goal of raising money and awareness for their charity of choice. The last person standing will be chosen as the Celebrity Apprentice and have the honor of delivering a $250,000 bonus check to their designated charity, following in the footsteps of previous winners Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers, Bret Michaels and John Rich.

The celebrities will be subject to long hours, grueling deadlines, intellectual challenges, personality clashes, and intense scrutiny under the careful watch of Donald Trump and his advisors, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump. Last season, “Celebrity Apprentice” raised a record amount for the contestants’ charities, donating over $3.1 million to charity.