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Denzel's Summer Vacation

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So, you’re Denzel Washington, and you’ve just finished your press blitz for The Manchurian Candidate. Now what? “Denzel is relaxing in Italy with his family on (golf champion and entrepreneur) Greg Norman‘s boat Aussie Rules,” says a source. Norman isn’t there, but Washington, 49, has been schmoozing with the likes of P. Diddy and Heidi Klum‘s ex, Italian playboy Flavio Briatore. “He hangs out with different people in different ports,” says the source. “He’s gone to Positano. He’ll go to Capri and Sardinia. He’s been Jet Ski-ing. He’s having a great time. He loves it.” Who wouldn’t? Aussie Rules is a 228-ft. dreamboat of a yacht, complete with its own cinema, a library, WaveRunners, sea kayaks, diving gear and a 16-person crew. Sounds like smooth sailing to us.

Apprentice, Round II
Wondering what it would take to get a shot on the next season of The Apprentice? We were, too – so we tagged along with last season’s winner, Bill Rancic, 33, as he interviewed prospective contestants at a recent Chicago casting call. “You’ve got to have good business insights and common sense – but beyond the fundamentals of business, you have to set yourself apart from the pack,” he told us as he greeted the wannabes. Dressed in a dark-blue pinstriped suit, Rancic shook hands, offered advice, signed autographs and posed for pictures with anyone who asked. “Just be yourself,” he told the hopefuls. “Don’t be afraid. I’m looking for people who are happy and want to work hard. People who are inventive and creative. You can’t go in trying to be someone you’re not. You can’t be a character from last year’s show. We’ve seen that already. (We) want people who are sincere, authentic, not actors. People who have business in their blood.” Does it help to be hot, even though season one’s sexy female stars didn’t take the prize? “I don’t think sex-appeal has a lot to do with it,” Rancic said. “It’s about business. It’s about working hard and having stamina. I’m living proof of that.”

As for the show itself, next season’s contestants have a built-in advantage. “We didn’t know what the next day held. In season two, they’ll know what’s to come,” Rancic said. “They know how it unfolds in the boardroom. In season one, we had no idea.” Because of that, the tasks will have to be much harder, he said – and larger, with companies like Procter & Gamble, Levi’s and Pepsi participating. “But the rewards will be more rewarding, too,” he added. Stay tuned …

Caught in the Act
Spotted Recently:
Ashlee Simpson, eating dinner on the outside patio at the Saddle Ranch on L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard.

Nicky Hilton, Tara Reid and friends, sitting outside the tony L.A. restaurant Fenix at the Argyle.

Vince Vaughn, Brittany Murphy, Owen Wilson, actor Cole Hauser (2 Fast 2 Furious) and Entourage’s Jeremy Piven, at L.A. hotspot Shelter for a party sponsored by Puma.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, shopping solo at trendy L.A. boutique Kitson.