The “world” exclusive interview with Piers Morgan.
Scene: An exhausted Piers Morgan calls from his suite at The London Hotel, New York. He sounds punchy with fatigue from the glory of his triumph as Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. Rob McGibbon, in his London office, listens intently as this stunning exclusive unfolds across the Atlantic…
(We exchange gushing showbizzy nothings of mutual appreciation and congratulations, then we begin…)
RM: Piers Morgan, welcome to the first telephone interview for AccessInterviews.com. How does it feel to be the U.S Celebrity Apprentice? Did you think you would win?
PM: Well, I have to admit, it feels pretty good. I actually feel very proud. To be honest, I thought I had blown it. Even though I had won in terms of money raised, there was a real ground swell in the room for this all-American heroic cowboy, while I was being billed as this evil, obnoxious arrogant Brit. I thought Trump would go for the American hero thing because this is what America needs right now – a good guy with great integrity to win, but at the very last moment he swivelled round and fired him. It was amazing.
RM: What was the freeze-frame moment of the night for you?
PM: Erm, the most powerful moment was when the injured American soldiers came into the studio in their wheelchairs. I had raised $750,000 for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and I had met them before. When the audience saw them they spontaneously jumped to their feet to give them a standing ovation. That sent a shiver up my spine. The atmosphere changed in that moment and it kind of brought home what the show was really about. This was not about who is the nicest bloke, but who in the end did the best job for their charity. And that was me. These soldiers were very grateful for what I had done and I think that actually carried a lot of weight with Trump.
I also remember the moment when things were going quite badly for me and I turned to see my mother and sister sitting in the front row looking like it was all over and trying to give me a thumbs up. It is a long way to come to watch your son and brother to lose to a cowboy. I said, quite loudly, It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.
RM: How seriously did you take winning? Surely this is just a daft game show and just another vain step in your pursuit of fame?
PM: I have taken it very seriously. You know me, I don’t even play tiddlywinks to lose. I have spent my entire life trying to win every competitive thing I have ever taken part in. All the other celebrities who got fired along the way made pompous speeches about only entering it to raise money for charity. I don’t buy that argument. I think it is insincere and misleads the public. I am honest enough to admit that, Yes I wanted to raise money for charity, but I also entered the show to raise my profile and to win. At least I am not a hypocrite about it.
But the charitable aspect really did hit home to me when I went down to meet the wounded soldiers. That is when I realised that raising $750,000 for them is a big deal. Yes, in many ways, the show is a trivial and frivolous game that doesn’t matter, but when you see what a difference that money will make, it makes me feel very proud.
(We talk in length about the public reaction over there. “Streams of people” have been wishing him well. Simon Cowell has texted saying “Congratulations – from Dr Frankenstein”; Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah has been in touch (Gordon is, apparently, working out the appropriate Government response from the fountain nib of the Establishment – “My victory is being discussed at Cabinet level.”), as has Alan Sugar and a soufflé of other lesser known names. It is luvviness in extremis. Then we talk about the reaction from back home…)
RM: Hmm, your old friends on certain newspapers have been quite unkind about your win. Does that make you happy or sad? Any old foes come to your mind at happy times like this?
PM: I am delighted they are enjoying my success so whole-heartedly. They are embracing my triumph with the warmth and admiration that I would expect. I hope they are all enjoying themselves in their rather meagre ivory towers in the east of London, as I sit here in my glorious space in New York.
There are a number of people who I think will be particularly irritated by what has happened. My message to Jeremy Clarkson is: if you keep working, there is a chance that one day you will crack America, you just have to keep at it…dreams do come true.
(The conversation drifts to fame and America’s Got Talent. Piers will celebrate his birthday in LA on Sunday over dinner with Simon and friends at Robert de Niro’s restaurant. I will have to save all the other fascinating outtakes of our chat for my book. It is time to close and go to the pub.)
RM: One of the more startling revelations of your time in the Apprentice was that you were outed as being gay…
PM: Ahem. Maybe I can take the opportunity of this interview to point out that I am in fact NOT a homosexual. I simply kissed a cowboy as a joke after various people decided to “out” me. I have nothing against homosexuals, but I just don’t happen to be one…
RM: But, surely, after such an amazing victory you are gay, in the 19th century translation of the word…
PM. Oh, yes, of course. I am extremely gay at this moment. In fact, I have never felt more gay than I do today.
(I always thought as much)