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What Bret Michaels Learned from the 'Rock Star of Real Estate'

When rocker Bret Michaels won Donald Trump’s "The Celebrity Apprentice" in May 2010, he admits he had no idea what the job would entail.

Donald Trump and Bret Michaels
Source: NBC
Donald Trump and Bret Michaels

Michaels recalls, “I had a laugh with Donald afterward. I said, “you know if I was smart enough to win Apprentice, you’d think I’d been smart enough to ask two questions; what do I gotta do, and how much does this gig pay?”

For celebrities like Bret Michaels, being Trump’s apprentice is more of a title than a position with real responsibilities, which is fine with Michaels because the singer has a lot on his plate at the moment.

He just released his third solo album "Custom Built" and stars in a new reality show on VH1 called "Life As I Know It." He is also in the midst of a cross country concert tour and works with the American Diabetes Association, which is one of the reasons he participated in the TV show.

“Two things you win on Apprentice, it's not just that we won a whole lot of money for ADA,” Michaels says. “We got this huge amount of awareness, the sites all grew, and you realize how many people struggle with type 1 & type 2 diabetes.”

For the people who win the non-celebrity version of "The Apprentice," like first season champ Bill Rancic, a job working with Trump is the ultimate prize. When Rancic won in 2004, he accepted the second in command job on Trump's then-latest project, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

Rancic says, “A lot of people think Donald Trump is ... they just view him as this billionaire. And at the end of the day, the guy is a gifted builder. It was my job to take in and absorb and soak up as much as I possibly could. And that’s what I did, I watched how he made decisions.”

Michaels agrees, a lot can be learned from just watching the man he calls "The Rock Star of Real Estate."

"I learned a lot from watching Donald, not just on the camera but off camera. The way he spoke to people, the way he approached stuff," Michaels says. "When things weren’t working on that show, he was like 'you fix this, you take care of that' and you have to admire that he really didn’t mess around and he got done what he need to do. It was very clear what he wanted from people and I thought that was very admirable."

Michaels tried to be admirable himself in the way he conducted business on the show.

"I wasn't going to win Apprentice by throwing people under the bus. I thought I am going to win this show by proving to everybody that I'm a hard worker and Ive got what it takes to be the Celebrity Apprentice," he says.

Underneath the bandanas, the flashy clothes, and the eyeliner, Michaels has always been more of a blue collar guy—writing songs about the hard work it takes to achieve your dreams with songs by his band Poison such as "Cry Tough," "Ride the Wind," and "Fallen Angel."

And Michaels has created his own model for music success, getting his music out in through reality television. Before "Celebrity Apprentice" there were three seasons of "Brett Michaels: Rock of Love."

"The first part of my contract says I have to write the music for it. Everything I do comes back to the music. Whether its 'Life As I Know It' with the brand new song, 'Riding Against the Wind'," he adds, "it all goes back to showing my life and my music. Even with Celebrity Apprentice I asked them if I could use some of my music or score some of the music in the show, I said whether I win or lose, this is what I live to do."

It seems to be working, his latest release, "Custom Built" reached #1 on Billboard's Hard Rock and Independent album charts.

Watch "CNBC TItans: Donald Trump,"premiering Wednesday. November 17 at 9pm ET & PT.

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