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LI golf fitness expert John Ondrush a hit on Donald Trump's show

Long Island golf fitness expert John Ondrush, right,

Long Island golf fitness expert John Ondrush, right, was part of winning team on episode of Celebrity Apprentice with, from left, Brandi Glanville, Johnny Damon, Leeza Gibbons and Ian Ziering Credit: Golf Fitness Academy

He's hired.

Or he was, anyway, just in time to play a key role in the most recent season of "The Celebrity Apprentice."

John Ondrush, who runs a Syosset-based golf fitness academy that bears his name, took time out from his work with local pros, school teams and amateur golfers to make a solid hit on Donald Trump's NBC series.

In an episode that aired in late January, Ondrush was enlisted by one of the teams on a golf related task and earned praise from the series host and judge. "They liked it and when it came to the boardroom with Donald Trump, he basically said, 'Having John as part of your golf team was one of the things that put you guys over the top. It made that experience better, and you won,'" Ondrush said the other day in his office, next to the huge workout area at the facility that also houses Sports Hub.

Suffice it to say it wasn't anyone on his team that got the bad news. It was Kate Gosselin, project manager for the squad headed by Geraldo Rivera, who heard Trump say, "You're fired" at the end of the task, which had the two competing groups do interactive pitches for Trump National Doral Miami resort.

The East Northport resident got involved early last year through a phone call from David Ozer, agent for Ian Ziering ("Beverly Hills 90210," "Sharknado"), who was on the team that featured eventual champion Leeza Gibbons.

"David had come in here to use the golf academy. He's a really nice guy," Ondrush said. "All of a sudden, I get a phone call. He tells me, 'Listen, there's a situation. Ian is on Celebrity Apprentice and we have a golf task. I'd thought it would be a great idea to have you as part of the team to win this task.'"

Ziering later blogged that Ondrush was a godsend because fellow team member Johnny Damon, the former Yankee, didn't come up with a promised golf pro for the presentation that was taped at Trump National in Briarcliff Manor. Ondrush came with a high-tech putting stroke analysis system that he uses on the indoor green at his academy (which also has indoor chipping and bunker areas and course simulators like the one on Golf Channel).

He worked individually with potential members. "We wanted to portray the idea that Trump Doral wasn't just a golf resort. It was also a place where you can come and work on your game," he said. "With the reality shows, they get the cameras right on you, with the lights on you, but you're kind of having a good time with it while you're meeting with people."

Aside from the rush he got when he heard from teammates after they left Trump's boardroom with the good news, Ondrush took away a friendship with Damon, whom he still texts regularly. Plus his wife and daughter got a charge out of exchanging tweets with team member Brandi Glanville ("Real Housewives of Beverly Hills").

Having signed an agreement, he had to keep mum about the outcome from the taping last April until the show aired in late January. It was just as well that it was done long before this winter, when his academy was filled with Long Island golfers wanting to work on their games.

His advice to all golfers this time of year, when most people are finally escaping cabin fever, is to make sure they stretch before they start playing. He knows that, to borrow a phrase and bend it a little, they're fired up.


Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center will hold its 18th Annual Golf Classic May 4 at Nassau Country Club, Glen Cove. Visit . . . Eastern Long Island Hospital will host the John Romanelli Memorial Golf Classic, supporting the emergency department, May 13 at Gardiner's Bay Country Club, Shelter Island. Visit . . . The Saints Cyril and Methodius Golf Outing will be at Timber Point Golf Course, Great River, June 4. Call 631-667-4044, ext. 110.

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