He says he just “wants to be loved by the world,” but Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel seems to like turning up the heat on contestants as they vie for suitcases full of cash. Mandel, who became a household name in the ’80s as a curly-haired standup comedian, reinvented himself in December as the bald-headed host of the runaway hit, which returns to NBC on Feb. 27. PEOPLE.com caught up with the Canadian-born father of three, who revealed the secrets to the show’s success and his Apprentice aspirations.
Are your kids fans of the show?
To be honored with the last name Mandel, you must be huge fans of mine. It’s like becoming a citizen.
They’re going to do a Spanish version for Telemundo. Any interest in hosting?
Yes, but nobody would understand me. There’s actually talk of them doing it in Canada, and doing it in Canadian. I have a grasp of that language, so I might be able to do that one.
I hear Donald Trump even filmed a segment.
He stuck around for the entire taping because he said he was a big fan. That’s the thing about the show: It’s compelling. People turn the channel and for whatever reason they stop, if it’s to see what I’m doing, to see a hot girl, because they see one of our case models or whatever. You’re watching people making decisions that could change their lives for the better or the worse in one split second.
Will you reciprocate and make a guest appearance on The Apprentice?
Yes, I will definitely appear on The Apprentice – when and if I’m invited. And you can put that in writing.
You also still find time to do standup.
I’m still doing 200 live dates a year. (After taping Deal) I would fly to Vegas, get into a limo and be onstage at 9:30 at night in that same suit. And then I’d finish that show and be in my bed in LA at 11:30.
You recently turned 50, and you have a lot of energy.
I wanted to feel youthful, so my wife threw the party at Chuck E. Cheese. But it’s good Italian food, good entertainment and what’s a better evening than a singing rat? It was fun until three other mothers yelled, “Get out of the balls.”
How long have you been shaving your head?
It’s been about three years. My cheek just starts a lot higher now. I never shave my face without shaving my head – it’s part of my routine. I just think of myself as having a huge face.