Celebrity Apprentice Australia is Hoff and Running

WHEN you sign Elvis Presley to your band, you're hardly going to hide him down back on tambourine.You stick him out front, where he can swivel his hips for the screaming fans.In the opening scenes of The Celebrity Apprentice Australia, contestant Ian "Dicko" Dickson claims David Hasselhoff is his team's Elvis - the man who will draw hordes of excited fans to Bondi Beach for a dog-wash challenge designed to raise money for the Starlight Children's Foundation.Dicko's on the money. Hasselhoff, who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as The Most Watched TV Star in the World thanks to roles in Knight Rider and Baywatch, is dripping in sweat, but he's indefatigable as crowds flock to Bondi ostensibly to have their dogs shampooed."We raised $245,000 in the first round because they used me as bait," Hasselhoff says of his Team Platinum, a title that conjures images of men slipping bank notes into the garters of exotic dancers."They (the fans) didn't come over to wash their dogs, they came over to take a picture with a guy who is going to give them worldwide publicity. I know what marketing is about. I've marketed David Hasselhoff and I've marketed The Hoff."Hasselhoff loathes pretension. He knows there are peers and critics who see him as a man smothered in unironic showbiz cheese, but even they cannot deny his staggering global popularity as a singer (he performed for a crowd of over 500,000 in Berlin on New Year's Eve, 1989) and actor.Interviewing him, he's impossible not to like. There's no hint of manufactured niceness, or airbrushed dullness, about the way Hasselhoff answers questions.Not only is he prepared to rake over the coals of his colourful past, he's unafraid to show his vulnerable side.That sensitivity comes to the fore when talking about Celebrity Apprentice, where Hasselhoff was moved profoundly by an experience with a child who had arranged to meet him through Starlight.Tears well in Hasselhoff's eyes as he explains how the child reminded him of Randy Armstrong, who was a fan of Knight Rider."A boy from the Starlight Foundation ... he was an exact replica of Randy," Hasselhoff says."Randy was 16 and came to visit me on the set of Knight Rider. I got a letter from Randy that said, 'You taught me there was more to life than pain'. They (the family) sent me a picture of him, of him and his casket with a Knight Rider hat and jacket."That to me is what my life's about. Why did I get Knight Rider, maybe because I could make a difference in people's lives. Of course I can and I do. It's really frickin' easy."And here's a boy who came down to our set of Celebrity Apprentice to show his support and he's battling for his life. Those kids give me the power. That kid affected me, had soul and charisma and passion. He reminded me of Randy. Randy Armstrong still lives on."It's fair to say few have lived a life as public as Hasselhoff's. His fan base is monumental and mobile phone technology ensures he rarely has a public outing that is not filmed or photographed.He says if people act "inappropriately" in trying to get a snap when he's with his girlfriend Hayley Roberts or daughters Taylor-Ann and Hayley "they are going to get a reaction from me".It's a sign of the times that fans rarely ask for permission before pointing a lens in his direction."People don't even think about it, they just start (filming) and I know they don't think about it because if somebody did it to them I think they'd freak out. But they are just so enamored they saw a celebrity, or The Hoff, that they just don't act rationally."There's also a side of me that says the time to worry is when nobody wants to film you," he adds with a laugh.Hasselhoff, born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952, has been singing, acting and dancing since the age of seven.His TV work is internationally known, but he also has a long list of lesser-publicised stage credits including Jekyll & Hyde, Chicago and The Producers.For all the successes, however, Hasselhoff has at times had to draw on deep reserves of resilience to overcome life's knocks. He clearly has the capacity to believe in himself when many others have lost the faith."You just have to pick yourself up and move on," he says."I find an amazing amount of strength through humour, 'Whoa, that was a bad move', and laugh about it. Everyone knows when we screw up. And you go, 'I know I was stupid, I know I was an idiot', but so what, it's part of life."I find an amazing amount of strength through my children. They are stronger than I am. I'll take something (criticism) a little too seriously and they'll go, 'We know how much we love you' and they know how much I love them."A low point for Hasselhoff came in 2007, when he was filmed drunk at home with one of his daughters. He saw the release of the footage as a disgraceful invasion of his privacy and was mortified his daughter had to endure the indignity of it being played on YouTube 11 million times."Everyone decided to exploit it. It didn't happen 11 million times, it was just YouTubed 11 million times," he says."It was an intimate moment between me and my daughter, but everyone chose to take it and exploit me. More than anything it embarrassed my daughter, hurt her and hurt me because it was something that was not legally put out."It made me really sad that it was exploited because it involved my family and was never anything but a private moment. It wasn't to talk about alcoholism and David Hasselhoff and his kids, it had everything to do with ratings."Hasselhoff is decidedly more upbeat when talk turns to acting ventures. He bursts with enthusiasm as he speaks during a break from filming the movie The Christmas Consultant."The best part is that I am the Christmas consultant - back on the call list of being number one. It's a real family movie," he says.He also has a role in the dubiously titled Piranha 3DD, which promises gore, bikini babes and Ving Rhames playing a character sporting a leg-cannon. "I have just finished Piranha 3DD. I've got the college crowd, I have a big following with that group. But I always want to keep the family audiences fresh."I've done a heap of things - Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent - that keep me hip with the kids."There is also a possibility Hasselhoff will squeeze a wedding into his busy schedule at some point.He's had two failed marriages - to Catherine Hickland and Pamela Bach - but his romance with Roberts, 32, has him thinking he'd like to have a third go.He has jokingly proposed to her five times in a series of bizarre situations, once while swimming with sharks.The next celebration coming his way will be his 60th birthday in July."I want to put on something big. I might have The Hoff Festival celebrating my 60th birthday. Right now there's an offer to have it in Austria because that's where I started my music career."I said 'Whichever comes first - the festival or the funeral'," he says with a laugh.

Source: News.com.au, thanks to Vanessa for the tip