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On 'Celebrity Apprentice,' Schwarzenegger Is New Chief Terminating Officer

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Celebrity Apprentice

Art Streiber/Courtesy of NBCUniversal

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the new head of "Celebrity Apprentice."

With the show's previous host having been promoted out of its boardroom and into the Oval Office, Celebrity Apprentice welcomes a new Terminator in Chief, Arnold Schwarzenegger, on Jan. 2. We asked Hollywood's best-known strongman what to expect under the Schwarzenegger administration.

You promised you'd be back, and here you are! Will the new Schwarzenegger boardroom operate differently than Donald Trump's old one?

It's two different approaches: As far as how to solve problems, how to pick the people and how to fire people, he had his approach, and I have mine.

What's the secret to being successful?

Vision. If you don't have a clear vision of where you want to go, you're just drifting around. You could have the best jet in the world, but if the pilot doesn't have a destination, you'll just fly in circles and eventually crash.

The second thing is teamwork; you need to have great people around you.

Third, you have to push through the fear of failure. That fear is the most common thing that holds people back from being successful. Think about what Michael Jordan said: "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Even a guy like him, who's known as being the best, has had his failures.

How would you describe your own relationship with failure?

I can't tell you how many times I failed to lift 500 pounds or lost competitions. When I was governor of California, there were lost [ballot] initiatives, or I couldn't get bills through the legislature. Those were failures. But in the end, a lot of what you wanted gets done. The point is just to try, without always worrying about failures.

Easier said than done!

Well, you must do it anyway. And don't ever listen to the naysayers. There always will be people telling you you're not going to make it. When I wanted to come to America, I was told, "It's too expensive. Nobody there will help you, so forget it. It's a crazy dream."

When I wanted to be a bodybuilding champion, they said, "This is an American sport — you're an Austrian. You should be a ski champion or do bicycle racing or something like that."

When I went into the movie business, they said, "With that accent, you will never be a leading man."

And when I wanted to run for governor, I heard, "You have no experience — why would you want to do that? People will never vote for you."

The point is, if you focus on the negative, you get nowhere.

You'll have a dream team of advisers — Warren Buffett, Steve Ballmer, Tyra Banks and more — on the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice. What will you learn from them?

I wanted people with substance as my advisers, and they were happy to help. Warren Buffett, in particular, has been by my side whenever I needed it. When I ran for governor, he was the one of the first to endorse me, so of course I wanted him for Apprentice.

With Warren, what stands out most is his passion. Even though he's in the money game, I honestly believe he's not into money as much as he's into things that interest him: He's driving around Omaha in an old car, and he has a suit that he probably wore 20 years ago. Those things don't mean anything to him. But he's very passionate about business; he knows how to analyze companies and how to build them into something even bigger.

And he's very generous: He has pledged to donate all of his fortune, in the end, to charity. Warren is a perfect example of success that's measured not by how much we make, but by how much we give.

The president of NBC was shocked when you agreed to host Celebrity Apprentice. What made you say yes?

I watched the show many times, and I always thought I would love to host, not even thinking it would ever become available. But when Trump ran for president, I said to myself, "Well, let me see who they're looking for." As soon as they heard I had an interest, they jumped at the opportunity. I just think it's excellent when you can show people all over the world how you do business — because it's hard. People think celebrities have business experience, but I would say in general they don't. So it's really fun when you give them a task, and now they have to figure out, "How do you sell that?"

Even when you're well known in one area, you may really have to struggle to do something totally different. And to watch their faces, to listen to them, to see their fear, is fascinating. I think it inspires other people to get going in business. No matter what their life experience is, they can say, "Maybe I can try something new, too."