After years of powerslamming foes as a champion pro wrestler and then getting into acting, Bill Goldberg has shifted his career into another gear. A vintage car collector, Goldberg hosts the Speed channel’s network reality show Bullrun on Thursday nights, and takes over Garage Mahal in its second season starting April 9 on DIY Network. He crosses the country giving people the coolest garage renovations ever, and his first client is a doozy: fellow automobile connoisseur and Tonight Show host Jay Leno and his six-car, three-room garage. Most notably, however, starting Sunday night he joins the new season of Donald Trump’s The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC along with 13 other personalities, from Bret Michaels and Cyndi Lauper to Sinbad and disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. If he wasn’t busy enough, Goldberg’s joined Twitter to chronicle his many pursuits, and he has teamed with Ford for Operation Drive One, a campaign that will showcase high-performance sports cars and other entertainment to troops and their families stationed in 10 military bases starting April 24 at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla. “I’m just trying to squeeze as many things into a 24-hour period of time as humanly possible,” Goldberg says. For the rundown on his vehicular holy grail, his Apprentice experience and if he misses wrestling, read below for our conversation and check out a clip from Sunday’s season premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice.
Photos courtesy of NBC, DIY, WCW
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Have you done anything in any of these Garage Mahal renovations that you want to do in your own garage?
[Laughs] You’re kidding, right? I’ve gotten ideas off of every single build, so it has turned me into the home improvement guy when I go home. There’s a plethora of stuff out there to adorn your garage these days. The spaces that people say are their “garage” are a far departure from the normal garage anymore. It’s pretty cool what’s available.
Does your wife have any clue what’s going to happen when you get back home and go to town?
My wife is a stuntwoman who, when I leave town for an average of three to five days, is so handy that literally when I get home on a Friday, I wouldn’t be surprised if probably three rooms are painted. We’ve got all different types of bushes, plants and shrubberies installed around the house, and God only knows what else she’s done to the yard. My wife is Mrs. Home Improvement. Not only is she great in the kitchen and great behind the wheel of a car and can jump off a 90-foot waterfall, but she can turn a wrench, too. I think that’s why I picked up the show, so I can be at least comparable to the skills my wife already has around the house. I’m emasculated daily by my wife.
At least you’ve made your peace with that.
Oh, absolutely. Hey, being emasculated by a woman who weighs 105 pounds, at the end of the day it’s no big deal because she’s mine. That’s the best part of it.
How was it taking your handiwork to Jay Leno’s garage?
Jay suffers from the same sickness a lot of us suffer from, and that’s Crappy Garage Syndrome. He’s a hoarder like all the rest of us. It gets to the point where your garage is just a storage bin. For a guy who’s got such wonderful automobiles, it would be nice if he had a nice place to display them when he gets home — or at least park them. When we got to his place, I won’t say the rooms were uninhabitable, but for an automobile, they were pretty much uninhabitable.
When you’re going on your adventures, do you see other vintage cars that you like? Are you always on the hunt?
A car freak, as I like to call myself, is always on the hunt. You never know what’s going to show up, and I never know when I open a garage door of one of these places we’re going to overhaul what’s going to be inside. I always look to be pleasantly surprised. But as of right now, no, I haven’t come across anything that’s to die for.
Do you own your vehicular holy grail yet?
I don’t own it. Actually, Jay does have one of the holy grails that I want, which is the 1989 McLaren F1. The only issue is that there are only 25 of them in the States and they’re between probably $1.4 million and $1.9 million. I’d have to sell one or two cars to pick one up. Is it going to happen before I pass away? You bet your ass I’m gonna buy one. There’s no doubt. I’ve already got the OK from the wife.
What’s your coolest car?
I’ve got a couple of cars that are really, really cool. I’ve got a one-of-one 1970 Boss 429 Mustang known as “The Lawman,” which was campaigned over in Vietnam during the war and it was basically built along with a number of other cars and taken over to Vietnam by Ford as a morale booster. It gave the active servicemen the ability to get behind the wheel of a high-performance car and be taught driving skills. Years and years ago, I bought that car at a Barrett-Jackson auction – I was wrestling in Japan and I bought it over the phone. It turns out that that’s the only one in the world, it’s got 700 miles on it, and what it’s led me to do was solidify a deal with Ford to re-enact the Lawman tour.
What are the details on Operation Drive One?
It’s going to have an updated version of the Lawman, and it’s going to have a number of Mustangs out there that servicemen can drive and be taught safety skills. It’s my duty as an American and my duty as a car lover and my duty as a father to pass this on.
Are you done with the Apprentice at this point?
We finished filming in November. It was tough to get me to sign on, for sure, and after doing it, it was well justified. It was a great opportunity to get on NBC and raise money for your charity, and along the way befriend 13 other wonderful people. We had a great group of celebrities there, and I just met some great people. The experience was wonderful other than having a camera and a microphone on me for 14 hours a day. I like to say two things coming out of that experience: At hour 10, I’m fine, but when hour 11 hits, I turn into the devil; and No. 2, I always thought the most emasculating experience would be wearing my underwear in front of millions of people on national TV, and after doing Apprentice, I have been proven wrong.
That’s something to look forward to, I guess.
Yeah, well, it is for you but not for me! [Laughs] It was fun, man.
Would you ever do another reality show as a contestant again?
Absolutely not. [Laughs] The problem is, I’m a host of a reality show – a number of them. I know exactly what they want, and I know exactly how they get it. It’s like having somebody on the inside. So I’m usually the guy dictating the pace, not being part of it. It was a total role reversal for me. To say I lost my cool a couple of times would be an understatement, but it was a learning experience, for sure.
Do you ever miss the wrestling and wearing your underwear on national television?
I don’t miss the underwear part. My wife might miss it. Actually my wife and I didn’t even know each other at that point. She and I met on a movie called Santa’s Slay, and she thought she was doing a movie with Jeff Goldblum and not Bill Goldberg. She had never even heard of me, a nice Jewish boy playing a Santa Claus who goes around killing everybody. It was a docudrama. [Laughs] But absolutely, I miss the wrestling. I miss the ability to simply put a smile on a kid’s face — and granted, there’s no question I miss the ability to just smash somebody and not get put in jail for it. Other than that, I don’t miss anything about the politics, the stupidity and the long working hours of professional wrestling. And it’s not geared towards kids anymore. I don’t want to be associated with anything my 3½-year-old little boy can’t watch.