Talking with Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins of TLC about “Celebrity Apprentice”

Donald Trump probably knows TLC as the cable network, not the biggest female group of the 1990s.

In fact, the host of "Celebrity Apprentice" (season two debuting Sunday on NBC at 9 p.m.) had trouble pronouncing Atlanta's own Tionne "T Boz" Watkins' first name. Watkins said he kept saying "T-own" instead of of the proper "T-on." So after awhile, he just called her "T."

Hip hop “is probably not part of his world,” she mused in a phone interview Tuesday.

But Watkins said she did not go out of her way to kiss his tuckus. Plus, “I didn’t Omarosa it,” she said, turning one of the most infamous “Apprentice” contestants of yore into a verb. Compared to the likes of Andrew “Dice” Clay and Dennis Rodman, “I made boring TV.”

Rather, she focused on making sure the Sickle Cell Foundation was front and center, not her ego. What makes her charity hit so close to home is she was born with Sickle Cell and has had to cope with the fatigue and a weak immune system all her life. See her video below:

“I don’t believe in arguing with strangers,” she said. “I argue with people I care about. I can’t get mad about a job I don’t do for a living.” At the same time, she said she won’t let anyone disrespect her and she will bite back.

Watkins had the most trouble with poker champ Annie Dukes. “She’s a cool person but she doesn’ t have people skills. It’s not what you say but how you say it. She’d say, “Get that!” instead of “Will you please get that?”

You won’t see much of T-Boz in the first episode Sunday. She said she had a sinus infection and a 102 degree fever through that first challenge and she hardly said anything. She got annoyed when Dukes in the first challenge called her out in front of Trump for supposedly not working hard enough, then acted all concerned off camera.

“I respect Donald Trump but I’m not going to make an [bleep] out of myself.”

In the boardroom, some contestants felt they had to tell Trump every little thing they did to prove their worth. She didn’t. “They’d overtalk, trying to sound intellectual, being loud and saying nothing,” she said. “Shut up! I’ve been on TV for 17 years. I don’t have to fight for camera time. If you want me to get the job done, I’ll do it. I was there to raise money.” (She said she did raise money for Sickle Cell research, which means at one point she won a challenge as project manager.)

The great thing for her is she didn’t have to live with the other celebrities such as “Surreal Life.” (”I’m not the roommate type!”) Rather, she got to go to a hotel at the end of each day and be with her daughter Chase and her mom. Problem: the shooting days were really long, sometimes 16 hours or more. They’d often wake up at 4 a.m. for makeup and hair and not get back to the hotel until after 9:30 p.m. “They kept you tired and hungry,” she said, a recipe for good TV because people are more apt to blow up.

Watkins said once her sinus infection was over, she didn’t get sick again on the show. But she says she often gets sick when the seasons change. She was became ill when on tour with TLC. She said she tries her best to take care of herself and takes lots of vitamins and prays a lot.

TLC hasn’t performed in three years but they are doing a show in Japan, where the group is ultra popular, for some crazy money. (Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes shows up on screen.) “Overseas is where the money’s at,” she said. “I have a kid. I’m not leaving Chase for a penny.”

As for “Celebrity Apprentice” itself, the show will be airing two-hour episodes instead of one. This indicates a bit how desperate NBC is this year. Plus, it clearly makes the cost of doing the show much more inviting.

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