Ian Ziering on What He Learned from Donald Trump: 'You Can't Really Argue with Him'

Ian Ziering weighs in on his time with Donald Trump on The Celebrity Apprentice

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty

Shortly after Ian Ziering started slaying sharks on Syfy’s mega-popular Sharknado series, the actor got a chance to do something he’d never done before – learn about the business world.

Appearing on The Celebrity Apprentice‘s seventh season, Ziering worked his way through a variety of sales, marketing, creative and branding tasks laid out each week by Donald Trump, who has since been named the Republican presidential nominee. Looking back on it, Ziering credits Trump with igniting a passion in him of which he was previously unaware.

“I got some great lessons of him,” Ziering tells PEOPLE for his former “boss.” “He steered me in the direction that revealed some skill sets from me that I never knew I possessed that I’ve been able to capitalize on.”

“I thought he was a really nice guy,” adds the actor, 52. “An incredible father, a tremendous businessman – he’s done wonderful things for the city of Manhattan. I walked away from the experience learning something from the guy.”

Since leaving the show, Ziering went on to create two businesses that he says are trending up. “The business world – other than show business – isn’t something I ever ventured into. But after being a project manager for so many different companies, my takeaway from that show was that I could do it and I started to be a project manager in the real world for myself.”

One of his businesses – a classic American athleisure apparel line for men and women called Chainsaw Brands – takes its name of the weapon of choice of Ziering’s Sharknado character Fin Shepard.

“For me, the chainsaw was a tool my character used to overcome obstacles and break down barriers. And that’s kind of like the mission statement for our clothing line,” he explains.

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His other project, which launched in February, is a luxury destination-based website called CelebrityHideaways.com: “People can go to see where all the rich and famous people have partied, and travel and vacation themselves to these same locations,” Ziering says. “I’ve partnered with some fantastic people who have a 25-year book of business in luxury travel, and we’re able to provide a VIP experience that other websites are not able to furnish.”

The hard hours he puts into each business are nothing compared to The Celebrity Apprentice – which Ziering calls “one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my entire life.”

“We worked six and a half weeks straight with six-day work weeks,” he explains. “We’d shoot three episodes a week, so there’s really no time to slow down. And I used every resource I had available to me, made a lot of friends along the way and did the best I could.”

Though Ziering didn’t win the show, he raised $320,000 for his charity, EBkids.org – in addition to the other money he helped raise along the way. “I feel like I won because I accomplished everything I sent out to do,” he says.

Just don’t ask him why he was fired. “When Trump fired me I was in such shock because I felt like I delivered on the task,” he admits. “You never saw it on TV, but Trump kind of whisked me away. He’s like ‘Okay, that’s it, goodbye.’ And I’m like ‘Okay?’ But Trump shuts you down – you can’t really argue with him.”

As for whether Ziering thinks Trump would be a good president or not, the actor is a little more coy.

“The whole politics thing is a whole other area that I don’t know what to make of,” he says. “Anything’s possible.”

Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on Syfy.

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