July 20, 2004 08:10 AM

Seeking to clarify her remarks likening her prison sentence to that of Nelson Mandela, Martha Stewart told her friend Larry King on CNN Monday that she was not comparing herself to the South African hero.

“What I said was, I am so in awe, I love Nelson Mandela so much,” Stewart, with a lilt in her voice, told King. “Nelson Mandela was able to survive 27 years in prison. … Nelson Mandela is a Nobel Prize winner. I wasn’t comparing myself to Nelson Mandela in any way. And I really don’t want anybody to be confused about that.”

Mandela’s name had come up during her interview Friday with Barbara Walters after being sentenced to five months in prison. When Walters asked the domestic diva if she was afraid of facing a rigid routine behind bars, Stewart responded: “Many good people have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela.”

King also asked if Stewart had any regrets. She answered, “You wake up pretty much every night and say, ‘Oh my gosh … what if, what if, what if?'”

Stewart, 62, also suggested that the arrogance she is perceived to have is, in fact, simply how the public perceives her workaholic habits. “If I were a man, no one would say I was arrogant.”

She also said that she is considering beginning her prison sentence before her appeal takes place (“Wall Street … would like to see finality”) and writing a book on criminal justice for first-time offenders.

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