March 25, 2011 / 8:16 PM / 7 years ago

La Toya Jackson butters up "Apprentice" boss Donald Trump

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It never hurts to praise the boss, so when “The Celebrity Apprentice” contestant La Toya Jackson talks about the show, among the things she says is that Donald “You’re Fired” Trump is really “a wonderful person.”

Michael Jackson's sister, La Toya Jackson, arrives to court as a preliminary hearing for Dr. Conrad Murray continues in Los Angeles, California, January 5, 2011. REUTERS/David McNew

“He’ll probably kill me for saying this, but I think he just likes to come off hard sometimes, because he really isn’t, not at all,” she said of Trump, the real estate mogul turned reality TV star.

The latest season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” in which performers compete in business-oriented games to see who will be an “apprentice” in Trump’s real estate empire, premiered earlier this month with Jackson assigned to a women’s team called “A.S.A.P.” alongside music icon Dionne Warwick, television personality Star Jones and many others.

While she says, “I love that guy,” about Trump, she has some choice words about Jones.

“I’ve got to say Star is very difficult, very difficult and I’m going to tell you like it is,” Jackson said.

In the shows that have aired so far this season, Jones has clashed with fellow contestant, actress Lisa Rinna. And the tension between Jones and Jackson has been evident.

The singer and sister to the late Michael Jackson told Reuters this week that she enjoys being on reality shows such as “Apprentice,” because it has helped her overcome shyness.

So far this year, the contestants have had to run a New York City pizza joint, write a children’s book and perform it as a play, and create a sales promotion for recreation vehicles and camping equipment. Contestants compete for charity, and a series winner is picked at the end of each season.

So far, Jones for the women and actor Gary Busey among men have been put into the roles of villains.

Rinna and model Niki Taylor have earned the wrath of Trump and heard his infamous tag line, “You’re Fired.” But La Toya remains standing (a little praise for the boss never hurts).

When she is not competing, La Toya Jackson has been dealing with family issues following the June 2009 death of her brother from an overdose of the anesthetic protocol and other drugs.

She has been a constant presence at court hearings for Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who is accused of involuntary manslaughter in the pop superstar’s death. Jury questioning in Murray’s trial started this week.

La Toya repeated past assertions her brother’s death was a murder, even though Murray was charged with the lesser crime of manslaughter. Murray maintains his innocence of the charge.

La Toya Jackson said her brother’s 14 year-old son Prince Michael has dreams of a show business career, just like his father and the other members of the Jackson family.

“He said auntie La Toya, I want to be an actor,” she said. “I said, ‘Oh really?’ He goes, ‘Oh yeah and I know who I’m going to get as my agent.’”

“He says, ‘I just want to dabble in it and start working right now and just see how things go,’” she said. “And I said wow, that’s nice. But you can’t help but support it.”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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