Ivanka Trump, <EM>The Apprentice</EM> Ivanka Trump, The Apprentice

Five cycles ago, when NBC's The Apprentice was the new kid on the reality-TV landscape, there was no show quite like it. Drenched in the unique metropolitan edginess of New York City and fronted by one of the corporate world's most colorful, if not controversial, personalities, it plumbed the genre in new, exciting and bottled-water-pimping ways.

Several years, one Omarosa and a drowsy Lenny later, The Apprentice is struggling to reclaim some of that new-car luster, because, after all, we now know the Donald. We know how the editing and musical cues can tip the show's hand. We know that, among other ingrained rules, flapping yer yapper in the boardroom too much can rouse "the Cobra." A huge first step toward freshening up the series was to set this edition, premiering Sunday at 9:30 pm/ET, in Los Angeles, its first-ever venture outside of the Big Apple. Another change for the prettier finds Ivanka Trump serving as Dad's eyes and ears during the tasks, and sitting alongside him in the boardroom.

Surveying the show's new setting and the way it impacts the play, Ms. Trump notes, "Just by nature of being out in L.A., with access to a whole different young, fun Hollywood [atmosphere], is going to be very interesting. This season will be very exciting from the standpoint of who we've partnered up with [as task sponsors] and what some of the rewards are." (For example, the winner of the second week's task, a swimsuit-designing competition, gets to party with Hef at the Playboy manse.)

Speaking of Bunnies and, therefore, other blonde beauties, one has to wonder how it is that Ivanka, unlike other photogenic progeny of the rich and famous, has for the most part eluded regular appearances in the gossip columns. The 25-year-old explains that it's not a case of her being a fuddy-duddy. Rather, "I consider myself to be a lot of fun, and I have a lot of fun," she argues. "I go out, but that doesn't require me having to dance on tables.

"Ultimately," she continues, "what I love doing is what I am doing. I take a lot of enjoyment from working on the 33 projects [the Trump organization] has going up all around the world. That's what I focus on."

Still, and with all due respect to ol' Carolyn — who winningly worked her suits and Mrs. Brady-esque hairdo — one cannot deny that the Donald's daughter brings a certain special "something" to that long boardroom table, being closer in age, if not sensibility, to the contestants competing before her. Does that make the Apprentice: L.A. wannabes carry themselves rather familiarly in front of her? "They had a tendency to do that as the season progressed," she tells us. "I got to know them on a personal level and as they got to know me more, they were more comfortable saying things than maybe they were on the first task, which is a double-edged sword. They could speak to me candidly, but they may be too candid at times. Some of them are more wary of what they say than others, [knowing] who I'm reporting back to."

Hmm, just how "candid" did, specifically, the red-blooded male players get with Ms. Trump, we have to wonder. Ivanka laughs heartily at TVGuide.com's inquiry as to whether any brazen flirtation was directed her way during competition. The Donald, meanwhile, chimes in, saying, "The answer is yes. They got very flirty, there is no question about it." All but confirming Dad's observation, Ivanka teases, "You'll have to watch. It is interesting."

Reality-TV fans can find scoop on such shows as American Idol, I Love New York and The Amazing Race: All-Stars in the the "2007 Preview" issue of TV Guide, now on newsstands.

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