All fired up for C Celebrity Ap­pren­tice Ap­pre

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - DEB­BIE SCHIPP

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’.”


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