When Bret Michaels celebrates his 47th birthday today with a concert in Dubuque, Iowa, the single father of two can whoop it up knowing he made it through round one on Celebrity Apprentice (which debuted Sunday). But all the drama isn’t behind him: His controversial collaboration with Miley Cyrus, Nothing To Lose, hits the airwaves today — and he has another project in the works with the Cyrus family.
For Bret, appearing on Celebrity Apprentice marks his fourth season in a reality TV career that includes three renditions of Rock of Love.
What can we expect from Celebrity Apprentice this time around?
“This year the show captures that gamut of emotions including humor. I think the world and the state we’re in could use a little uptick as well. Not everything has to be fighting and depression. I think the world could use a few laughs as well. When you watch me work, you’ll get a good laugh.”
While the Poison singer couldn’t get enough of the yuks he shared with “fierce” Sharon Osbourne, he butted heads with Michael Johnson, Sinbad and Bill Goldberg.
“We didn’t really know how to take each other,” he admits.
Although he calls his greatest asset his “creativity and drive,” he confesses his biggest problem is “living on rocker time, which isn’t about being up early-early in the morning. I’m not sure that set well with Mr. Trump.”
What was Donald Trump really like?
“Unbelievably funny and self-deprecating, but at the same time he’s the best delegator I’ve ever seen,” he says. “There’s a reason he’s successful. There’s a reason he’s been through some lows, but mostly mega-highs. He’s a fighter, and he doesn’t put up with people talking too overly long and full of crap. He’s just like ‘boom!’ I have nothing but great things to say about him – right up until I was fired.”
“If you want to see me, tune in early,” he chortles.
One place we won’t lose Bret anytime soon is on the airwaves, where his collaboration with Miley Cyrus, “Nothing To Lose,” is creating controversy with racy lyrics that include “We both know better than this/Still we can’t resist/Slowly get undressed/Won’t you fall down on me/So close I can feel you breathe.”
Still, he never expected to face such fallout when the 17-year-old singer bopped by his studio with mom Tish, boyfriend Liam Hemsworth and their manager in tow.
“The night we recorded it, she was in the studio with her boyfriend Liam,” he explains. “We were doing ‘Every Rose,’ and I played him the song. I’m a very freestyle singer. I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a strict pop method about how someone has to do something. And one of her idols, Stevie Nicks, who I’ve written and produced before, and she said ‘I love Stevie.’ I said, ‘try some stuff like Stevie does, try some low harmonies.’ The song is about an adult couple who have been hurt while trying to find love. That’s the lesson of the song, and she’s singing harmonies on it.”
He adds, “I was like ‘defend what?’ There’s nothing to defend. It wasn’t like it was a duet and we were singing to each other. It wasn’t like we were staring into each other’s eyes singing.”
Hm, does Miley like to create scandal?
“I think the exact opposite,” Bret tells me. “I think she’s got some strong cojones and backbone. I don’t think she takes s*** from people. They’re so unpropped up, and she’s unpredictable that it’s natural. It’s not like someone told her to do this. I’m the one who played them the song. I had no intention. I never knew they were going to sing on it. She was like ‘that’s cool,’ we were singing ‘Every Rose’ and she sang some harmonies on it. We were done with it in a couple hours, and I moved onto another one of my songs.”
He continues, “Does she stir s*** up? No. What I think that she does is she doesn’t take any s***. I love that about her. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people come at her, come at me, and we’re both the same. I set them straight. A lot of times when you live in that Hollywood limelight, speaking your peace or doing your thing is organic and more controversial than people trying to be controversial. I think the trying stuff – I’m bored of it. People who are overly set up. You’re like ‘oh God, someone told them to go there and do that.’ I read through it quickly, and then you look at the real stuff, and this was really one of those natural things that just happened.”
His relationship with the Cyrus family goes way back.
“Miley’s very first concert ever was Poison at Starland, the arena in Nashville,” he says. “I think that was her introduction to rock ’n’ roll and music, and we put on a big concert. Years later, my daughters [Raine, 9, and Jorja, 4, whose mom is on-off girlfriend Kristi Gibson] are big fans of hers. Then, they came out to a couple of our Poison shows. I’ve known her dad, we’ve crossed paths in Nashville before. Tish is unbelievable, and she’s smart. She’s a great manager.”
Regardless of how his music with Miley is received, this isn’t his last Cyrus collaboration. He tells me he’s working on a “real rock ‘n’ roll movie” tentatively called The Music Man with Miley’s mom Tish. The flick will be based on his autobiography called Roses and Thorns: The Reality of My Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy.
“It explains stuff that people never want to talk about in music, but they’ve got to know exists. You’ve got to see the demons you’ve gotta face that make people become drug addicts, drink and break up bands. Early in your career when you’ve got nothing, they say ‘what breaks your band up? Is it drugs and money and women?’ and I said ‘you don’t have any of that. What breaks you up is not having enough gas money to go over to the rehearsal, so you’re out of the band.’ Your whole career could end because you didn’t have enough money to put gas in your car to leave work and go over and meet the band at rehearsal, so they just get someone else that lives closer. That’s the story they’ve got to see.”
Here’s my pic with Bret:
Celebrity Apprentice airs Sundays at 10/9c on NBC. And, pick up Bret’s solo album, Custom Built, which includes the Miley collaboration Nothing To Lose, in stores later this year.