All fired up for C Celebrity Apprentice Appre
HALF a century separates them in years and Olympic swimming careers, so until now, it was hard to imagine Dawn Fraser, 75, and Stephanie Rice, 24, ever going up against each other. But when they signed on for the latest series of Celebrity Apprentice, the two knew it wouldn’t be long before, toe- to- toe, competitive instinct would surface.
“As soon as I saw the line- up and saw Dawn was in the series I knew they [ the producers] would make something of it. They had to,” says Rice.
So yes, the clash, one of many among this year’s crop of hopefuls in the reality competition, came. And as the 2013 season hits screens this week, the pair say viewers can look forward to plenty of drama as strong personalities spark under the pressures of the competition.
“In a lot of ways, it’s like preparing and competing in a swimming competition,” Rice says.
“You go into a bubble, you’re getting drained physically and emotionally, but you know it’s only a short amount of time so you keep putting your head down and you don’t worry about how tired you are or annoyed you are, you just get through it.
“In that environment there is confl ict one minute, banter the next.”
In a boardroom under the steely eye of Celebrity
Apprentice supremo Mark Bouris, Fraser called Rice out and the duo dropped the banter and plunged into battle. “It was something that had happened on a challenge, I felt Steph was being disrespectful and I raised that,” says Fraser.
Possibly Fraser’s observation that if Rice was her daughter she’d ground her and put her over her knee and smack her didn’t help the situation. There were harsh truths and tears. But when the stormy seas settled, the two swimmers took a breath, had a chat, and got over it. And both have emerged smiling from their fi rst crack at reality television.
Swimming and competing at top level may have armed them for, but could never truly prepare them for the reality of reality television, they say.
“I went into it naive and I came out a lot wiser, which I reckon is great,” Fraser says.
“At 75 if you’re still learning, that’s fantastic.”
She and Rice say it all started well as they joined the rest of this year’s celeb crop of comedian Peter Berner, former AFL player Dermott Brereton, TV presenter Peter Everett, boxer Jeff Fenech, PR queen Roxy Jacenko, professional dancer Kym Johnson, media commentator Prue MacSween, Uncanny X- Men singer Brian Mannix, singer and performer Rob Mills, athlete John Steffensen, singer Prinnie Stevens and Big Brother reality star Layla Subritzky for the show, but 14- hour days, snatched sleep, missed meals and the pressure of challenges quickly took their toll.
“When everyone was getting tired and cranky and different personalities came out, that’s when it was a bit hard to handle,” says Fraser.
But there was a clash that was on the cards from the outset: Rice versus PR queen Jacenko. “From day dot she just went at me from the first challenge and the first boardroom,” laughs Rice.
“I didn’t even know who this girl was at that point. So the guard was up with her.
“Roxy, she’s a hard one; she’s running a hugely successful business and knows what she’s doing, but in this show you draw on people’s strengths. In challenges she was a great asset, I tried to look at the positive side of her but it got hard because sometimes it did get personal and that’s why a lot of people clashed with her.
“As for Dawn, we are a couple of hardheads, we had a problem, and we talked it through.
“Dawn is someone I’ve looked up to in swimming for a long time so that was great we could sort that out.”
Neither Olympian is greatly worried about how they will be portrayed in the show.
The no- nonsense Fraser has always approached life on a ‘ what you see is what you get’ basis.
“People know what I’m like and I don’t think I’ve shown anything different,” she says. “I’m up- front, pretty outspoken, I don’t tell lies and I respect people and that’s what I expect in return.”
Rice’s only regret is a comment she made ahead of her fi rst visit to the
Celebrity Apprentice boardroom. “I remember saying before I went in that I wasn’t nervous, I was excited for the opportunity, really looking forward to being in there,” she laughs. “By the time I walked out it was like ‘ I take all of that back’.”
CELEBRITY APPRENTICE AUSTRALIA
WIN, Wednesday and Thursday, 7pm