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Celebrity Apprentice: Teresa Giudice on What Really Matters in the Boardroom

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This season of Celebrity Apprentice has no shortage of drama. Apprentice player Teresa Giudice, star of Real Housewives of New Jersey, has thus far been relatively low key in the drama arena. As a psychologist, watching the conflict and tension that has been building all season between the players is fascinating. What must it be like behind the scenes dealing with such intense animosity, all under the microscope and pressure of the cameras? Teresa stood out to me, because unlike her interactions with her close relatives on RHONJ--yes, we all know about the infamous table-flip and catty fights-- she has been fairly calm thus far on Apprentice. Why the change?

If I have learned one thing through my work as a psychologist, it is that people are typically more complex than we first assume. Whether or not I agree with Teresa's behavior toward her family and friends on RHONJ, I found myself seeing her differently on Apprentice. I was curious to know more about how Teresa coped with the drama, and what accounted for the differences I noticed. Teresa agreed to share with us her insider view.

Dr. Kellogg: On Celebrity Apprentice, you seem to have a different approach to getting along with others than we've seen in RHONJ. What was your strategy for getting along with the other players?

Teresa: I didn't really have a different approach. I used the same approach I use in my everyday life: I give people my heart right away, I don't hold anything back, but if you cross me, you will hear about it. What people forget is that I was on Housewives with some of my best friends and we got along great for the first two seasons. The only drama from me came when I stood up for my friends out of loyalty.

My strategy for Celebrity Apprentice was to go in being myself because I knew that would throw people off, that they would be expecting the table-flipping Housewife, and really, that's only a small percentage of my personality. I have degree in fashion marketing, was a buyer for Macy's, and wrote three successful cookbooks.

I think the big difference in the two shows is how they're filmed. For Housewives, they film us here and there for months and months, and then pick and choose little pieces to show, sometimes out of order. Like someone can pick at your nerves for months, and when you finally blow, that's the scene they show first. You could take the same 1000 hours of footage and give it to 10 different editors, and you'd come away with 10 different versions of who that person "really is."

For Apprentice, they filmed us for two solid months, and we did so much during that time, so many tasks, that they have to use a lot more of the footage, and mostly in order. And we all lived together in Trump Tower with almost no breaks so what you see is real: our real tension, our real frustration, and our real bonding.

Dr. Kellogg: Relationships and teamwork seem vital for survival on Apprentice. What was your biggest obstacle in working as a team?

I knew going in that there would be a lot of really strong personalities. I'm confident enough in who I am that I was happy to sit back and let everyone else get bossy and explode over little things. I just kept my head down, worked hard, and let everyone else freak out around me.

So our first big obstacle was just in getting all these strong personalities to work in the same direction. I think the women had more strong personalities, which is why we lost so many tasks at first.

Dr. Kellogg: What were the relationship dynamics you noticed on the show? Were there any Leaders? Bullying? A Peacekeeper?

Teresa: Everyone definitely played a different role. I tried to stay as neutral as possible in the beginning. I knew that if I was super opinionated right away, I would be a huge target for the other players to get rid of. So while I would normally be a leader, I was fine with letting the others take the lead. If I wasn't supposed to be the project manager, I was a worker bee. That's what being part of a team is -- respecting other people's roles. Some people just wanted to be the boss all day every day, but that kind of attitude won't win you any friends or allies in the boardroom!

Paul and Michael were really quiet but I don't think it was because they were weak; they were just allowing other people to be bossy, like I was. In reality, we're all leaders, we're all used to being in charge of our own lives and careers. I think it takes more skill to know how to step back than to always be in everybody's face.

The funniest thing is how many people came in as divas on the first day. Most everyone has personal assistants who cater to them, they get to sleep in -- that's just not my life at all.

You know who makes it the longest? The people who put their heads down and work their butts off. The people who don't care about how much camera time they get, but just want their team to win every time.

Dr. Kellogg: There was a lot of intense tension between players. What conflict resolution skills seemed to work for you?

Teresa: Filming a reality competition show is harder than you can even imagine. You're not just putting yourself out there, you're away from your family, and you're competing against other people for money for a charity you really care passionately about. There are actual winners and losers, and it messes with your mind.

It was uncomfortable, we worked really long hours, it was stressful, and unpredictable... so I have to say, my best preparation was being a mom of four girls. My life is like that every day anyway! I negotiate conflicts between my girls constantly so I had a lot of practice. The key is to know when to pick your battles. The people who didn't have kids, who were single, those are the ones who would explode about the tiniest things. When your regular life is full of screaming and snot and temper tantrums, you learn how to deal with the little stuff and save your strength for the big problems.

Dr. Kellogg: What has Celebrity Apprentice taught you about relationships that you'd like to bring back with you in your personal relationships?

Teresa: The relationships I made on Celebrity Apprentice were very intense because we weren't just gossiping or shopping, we were trying to raise money for very real people we cared about. You end up loving the people who helped you raise money for your charity, and being super angry at people who would sabotage a task so that you'd lose. You learn about why each charity is personal and important to them, and it makes you see them in a new light.

When I was choosing a charity to play for, I really wanted one that wasn't already well-known, that didn't have millions of dollars. I wanted to really help make a difference for someone. At an event my husband and I were at, I met this little boy named Matthew who has kidney disease. I got to be friends with his mom, I learned how he has to take 15 pills a day, how there is no cure, and I couldn't even imagine having one of my kids go through that. That's why I decided to play for NephCure, to help find a cure for the kids and adults with kidney disease.

Once you've been touched by someone who's fighting so hard just so their kids can live, and when you live with other people for months who are all dedicated to helping others, it makes you realize that's really important. It's hard to care about who wore what on Housewives, or who said what to whom, now that I've been lucky enough to be involved with NephCure.org and I really thank Celebrity Apprentice for that.

Dr. Kellogg: Clay Aiken really stands out this season; he is professional, hard working, amiable and humorous. And you've mentioned that you and Aubrey O'Day became close. Did you learn anything about yourself through working with such a variety of new people?

I became close with almost everyone on the cast because we were together so much. I'm proud that I was successful on many tasks, but I might be the most proud that I was able to hold my own and make such strong friendships with so many different types of people.

I learned a lot about myself and realized that I have always been a caretaker. I was the mama bear behind the scenes and loved cooking for everyone, testing out recipes from my upcoming cookbook, Fabulicious, Fast and Fit and toasting to a long day of work with Fabellini. Being a mom really brings a lot joy to my life and is the most important role. I love taking care of other people.

Dr. Kellogg: What helped you stand out among the other players?

Teresa: I think my heart and my work ethic. I don't think anyone expected it -- they expected me to be a diva or to just throw tables around or something. I've only done that one time in my life and I'm never going to live it down! Oh, I did it again on Celebrity Apprentice, but that was for CHARITY! Never again!

I'm a hard worker. When I graduated from college, I went right to work and took three buses into the city every day to my job. I hustled. I saved money. I have worked hard my whole life. I think the reason I was nominated in the boardroom for so many weeks is because everyone saw how hard I worked -- including the Trumps. You don't fire your hardest workers.

Dr. Kellogg: What do you think is the most important skill to have in terms of winning the show?

Teresa: I think the most important skill to win this type of show would be perseverance. If you never give up and give it your all in tasks and personal relationships it will get you far. I can't say how far I got so you will have to tune in to Celebrity Apprentice on Sundays 9/8 central on NBC.

Dr. Kellogg: Tell us what's in store for next season of RHONJ?

Teresa: My gosh, what's not in store? Betrayal, backstabbing, families trying to work things out, friendships falling apart, explosions, reconciliations, RV parties, lots of wine. You have to tune in on April 22 at 10 p.m. on Bravo. This is a must-see season!

Reality TV shows are our new soap operas, aren't they? Although I have to say, it might be easier to watch when you know it's all fake! The tabloids have already started printing fake stories so that is when I know things are starting to heat up for the show. The tabloids are also like soap operas and we don't read them anymore because they write such inaccurate, absurd and sensational stories. What happens this season on The Real Housewives of New Jersey is very real and still shocking to me. Oh, and lots of Milania! That's one good thing! That kid always makes me laugh. I love her. I love all my girls!

Dr. Kellogg: What's you take on seeking therapy from a psychologist for relationship problems or family therapy?

Teresa: Everyone has different things that work for them. I know some people who go to church or temple and confide in their priest or Rabbi, and some people resolve their issues on their own. I think that everyone is different, so whatever works, more power to you. I don't think there is anything wrong with seeing a therapist at all, especially if it can prevent divorce or help your family grow together both spiritually and emotionally. --TG

After hearing from Teresa, a few key pieces clicked together. As Teresa found a deeper meaning through raising money for charities, it helped her keep things in perspective. I think that is true of most people who find happiness in life -- they have a sense of purpose. And her comments about being the "mama bear" behind the scenes make sense. When you find yourself in a new environment, part of how you related to others is impacted by the role you play. When you are the caretaker in a group, it allows the nurturing side of your personality to shine through. And I respect her comments about it being more difficult to rein in her natural leadership instincts in favor of stepping back.

As I had suspected, there is a lot more to Teresa than initially meets the eye. While the camera highlights the more dramatic moments, it's actually a great chance for introspection. Think about if you had a camera following you during your most heated moments! It's the process of owning it and trying to change things for the future that really matters. It's easy to forget that the reality TV stars we see are actual people. Sure, they put their lives out there for us to judge. But just as in real life, we don't always know the whole story.