Considering the trashy chaos frequently caused by her two hell-raising daughters, Paris and Nicky, it's strange to learn that Kathy Hilton is an etiquette stickler. Starting tonight at 9 pm/ET, she'll be seen tutoring contestants in the art of gracious living on NBC's I Want to Be a Hilton.

"People today do not have manners," Mother Hilton tells TVGuide.com. "I've been at very elegant dinner parties where you're in someone's beautiful home and they've got this gorgeous art on the wall, and some of them don't even know which fork to use. So money doesn't buy class."

Hilton's reality series attempts to gentrify 14 ragamuffins from all walks of life in what she calls "The Apprentice meets My Fair Lady." The winner gets a swanky New York City apartment and a $200,000 trust fund. But first, they must comport themselves properly under their teacher's watchful eye. Just like Santa Claus, she spies on them when they're sleeping and awake, thanks to constant camera surveillance and gossipy show staffers.

"I would do my checking just to see how they treat everybody," Hilton says. "I'd get different reports from the producers, the hairdressers, the wardrobe people, and I was very, very happy. I wanted to know if they were polite, were they obnoxious... To me, everybody should be treated with respect."

But really, is this mother of four rich reprobates truly qualified to school anyone about good manners? We've all seen her most famous child's less-than-ladylike antics on The Simple Life. "Let's face it, no one is ever portrayed in the media as they really are, so [Paris] is acting," she insists. "Paris is one of the kindest, nicest people you'd ever want to meet. When people do get to know the girls, they are very very sweet, very polite and they're lovely girls. I'm very proud of them. I think you can't really judge a book by its cover."

By the way, Kathy doesn't bother to keep up with tabloid tattle about her outrageous offspring. "I used to," she admits. "I really don't read it anymore. I look at the pictures. But I'm probably not going to read stuff [about myself] either."