By Paul Cantor
Lil Jon’s joining the cast for the upcoming season of Donald Trump’s "Celebrity Apprentice." WHAAAT? Yeah, you read that right. The king of crunk is going head to head with the likes of José Canseco, Gary Busey and David Cassidy, among others, in NBC’s competition-based reality show. That explains him flipping pizzas last week at a New York Famous Famiglia pizzeria.
But Jon’s no rookie when it comes to business. In fact, back in 2008 he came in at #13 on Forbes list of hip-hop’s biggest earners by bringing in $11 million. His list of business ventures outside of music includes Crunk energy drink, a wine brand (Little Jonathan Winery) and his own line of Oakley sunglasses.
There’s no doubt in our minds that if anyone can win "Celebrity Apprentice," it’s Lil Jon. Why? Because rappers and hip-hop music industry folks are quite possibly the best salesmen who aren’t actually ... ya’know, salesmen.
Here are ten other hip-hop luminaries who would literally run circles around contestants on "Celebrity Apprentice."
40/40 clubs, minority owner of the Nets, Roc-A-Wear, Carol’s Daughter. You name it, Jay-Z probably has his hand in it somehow someway. The guy hangs with Warren Buffett, you think he can’t outmaneuver José Canseco?
Mr. Bridges has his own cognac (Conjure, but you can call it “Luda-gnac”), a restaurant (Straits Atlanta) and his own cologne (“Get Yours”). Not only that, but our #10 Hottest MC in the Game recently became a pitchman for that Magnum line of condoms, which is random, but probably paying him an, ahem, large sum of money.
3. Busta Rhymes
Back in 2002, nobody even knew what Courvoisier was. That is, until Busta Rhymes immortalized the liquor brand in his hit single “Pass The Courvoisier Part II.” It was right around this time when it started clicking with rappers, 'Hey, maybe I should stop promoting other people’s products and start selling my own!' Well, duh.
4. 50 Cent
Fifty was so revered for his business acumen at one point that he even got his own MTV show built around "The Apprentice" theme. It was called "50 Cent: The Money and The Power." At the time Donald Trump said, "[50 Cent] just did a show. It was a copy of 'The Apprentice.' It will fail because he's not Trump.” The show didn’t fair well, but maybe Fif can give Trump a few pointers anyway, because he just got $200 million for a couple of movies.
5. Damon Dash
The former Roc-A-Fella chief once listed Pro Keds, Roc-A-Wear, Armadale Vodka and a bazillion other companies in his vast business portfolio. Then it all fell apart. Heck, his former partner just got busted by the Feds for selling weed! Sure, times are hard, but once a star, always a threat.
6. Master P
Percy Miller’s success with No Limit Records in the late 90s lead to dozens of off-shoot ventures, proving he had a penchant for selling way more than just music. To wit, there was the Master P “Make Em Say Uhhh” doll, No Limit Films, and even No Limit clothing, which despite No Limit going bankrupt, is still sold at Walmart! And Trump knows a thing or two about bankruptcy, heck he just filed for it a few months ago.
7. Dr. Dre
We might not know when Detox is coming but Dre’s making more money selling headphones nowadays. Monster’s Beats by Dre headphones dropped in 2008 and since then Mr. Young’s signed up an all-star line-up- Lady Gaga, Diddy and even Justin Bieber have their own headphones now- proving not only is Dre good at endorsing products, but also bringing other talent on board. That’s like, MBA-level ish right there.
8. Snoop Dogg
Snoop’s perfect for "Celebrity Apprentice" because he’s literally written the book on how to sell all types on random products. There’s the iFizzle iPhone app, Snoop Dogg action figures, Snoop Dogg clothing, a marijuana-flavored candy, and perhaps the funniest of all, Snoop Doggs hot dogs. Snoop can sell anything!
9. Kanye West
‘Ye’s proven he’s definitely able to produce great art (did you see Runaway? I mean...). But his label, G.O.O.D. Music was dropped by Columbia Records a few years back, and his Pastelle clothing line closed up shop really before it ever even got off the ground. If West’s shown anything, it’s that he’s willing to be subservient and learn. He even interned at Fendi earlier this year, so he’s perfect for learning the ropes via "Celebrity Apprentice."
Credit Mr. Williams for not only changing the sound of hip-hop, but also its fashion. He spearheaded the rise of Japanese clothing brand A Bathing Ape in the states and also launched his own lines, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream footwear. Earlier this year he launched his own website—Kidult.com—for the grown ass kid in all of us. In 2009, Fast Company slotted him #36 on their list of 100 most creative people in business, which is saying a great deal, because if there’s one thing people really dig, it’s a truly original idea.
Did we leave out any MCs that could show Donald Trump something? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!