"You're so independent; you're so tough": Relive the bizarre moment Donald Trump fired Gene Simmons on Celebrity Apprentice

Donald Trump and Gene Simmons on the Celebrity Apprentice
(Image credit: NBC)

On January 17, 2008, divisive Kiss bassist Gene Simmons was fired by divisive property tycoon and future US president Donald Trump during the first season of The Celebrity Apprentice. Simmons was fired at the climax of the third week of the series, which was won in week 13 by divisive broadcaster Piers Morgan. 

We won't bore you with the details of the convoluted plot twists that led to this momentous TV spectacle, but they involved three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis, former Olympic gymnast Nadia "Perfect 10" Comăneci, Playboy playmate Tiffany Fallon, and $52,286 worth of hot dog sales. 

The head-to-head between two of America's most unpredictable hairstyles was a predictably testy affair, with the impossibly calm but ultimately pompous Simmons quick to irritate the host.

"Gene, what am I going to do?," asked the exasperated Trump, referring to teammates Omarosa and Jennie Finch, who'd performed well during their team's task. "You brought back two people that I practically told you you shouldn’t bring back. What the hell did I do? You’re so independent; you’re so tough.”

Of course, there was only one thing Trump could do, and that was fire the God Of Thunder, which he did. But the way Simmons tells it, it was all part of his own fiendish plan. “Kiss had to go off on tour in Australia in three weeks," Simmons told Entertainment Weekly: The Show in 2017. "So I had to get myself off the show."

Simmons is exaggerating here. Kiss played in Australia that March, a full two months after his firing, although the first show of the tour – at Albert Park in Melbourne – did take place more than a week before the series finale of The Celebrity Apprentice. So we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Kiss played their final live show in late 2023, and you can read all about it in the new issue of Classic Rock. Donald Trump was never heard of ever again. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.