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Of Donald Trump’s Twitter onslaught, Penn Jillette says, ‘I’m embarrassed to say I like this’

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Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Lil Jon, Penn Jillette and Trace Adkins on the finale of “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC on Sunday, May 19, 2013.

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The man who fired Penn Jillette — twice — is firing on the verbose half of Rio headliners Penn & Teller once more.

Seemingly out of the dark, Donald Trump sent out a pair of acidic tweets this morning blasting Jillette and the current version of the Penn & Teller show on Broadway at Marquis Theater.

In the first sent at 3:18 a.m. PST (6:18 a.m. in New York), the host of “Celebrity Apprentice” and Republican presidential candidate posted: “I hear @PennJillette show on Broadway is terrible. Not surprised, boring guy (Penn). Without the Apprentice, show would have died long ago.”

The second tweet, sent three hours later: “I loved firing goofball atheist Penn @PennJillette on The Apprentice. He never had a chance. Wrote letter to me begging for forgiveness.”

In text messages today from New York, Jillette responded: “I’ve always liked Trump for having no filter. I’m embarrassed to say I even like this. He’s never seen our show, and I think that matters.”

As for the letter he sent to Trump, delivered between Jillette’s first and second appearances on the NBC contest show, Jillette said he did send such a missive: “I sent him a letter apologizing for my rudeness, yes. I said something out of line. I will do that any time I’m wrong to anybody. He sees that as weakness, I guess. And that’s a fine way to see it. It’s not the way I see it.”

Penn & Teller’s executive director, Glenn Alai, also responded to the group text (sent to Jillette and him), “It could be noted that in the days before his casino empire crumbled into three bankruptcies, Trump hired Penn & Teller a dozen or so times to headline his Atlantic City casinos.”

And Jillette added, “Yup. And we did well.”

Trump’s assertion that he heard the Penn & Teller Broadway show is “terrible” seems dubious, as it has received almost uniformly glowing reviews. The show is a hit at the box office. In its first week, it was the top-grossing, nonmusical production on Broadway, delivering $1,075,000 in gross receipts.

As for the lead-up to the Trump dustup: Jillette finished seventh in his first appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice,” which aired during the spring of 2012. He returned for “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” in 2013, reaching the final in a spirited competition with country music star Trace Adkins. Jillette was playing on behalf of Las Vegas charity Opportunity Village, while Adkins represented the American Red Cross.

Jillette actually raised more money in the show’s final challenge, which was to create and market a new ice cream for Walgreens and host a party promoting the flavor (Vanilla & Chocolate Magic Swirtle for Jillette, Maple Macadamia Mash-Up for Adkins). But it was Adkins who was awarded the title by Trump, earning the $250,000 first-place prize money.

During the live finale, Trump reopened the rift between Jillette and him. In the time between Jillette’s first and second appearances on the show, Jillette released the book “Every Day Is an Atheist’s Holiday.”

In that book, he roundly criticized his first appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice,” in one stretch writing, “The secret truth of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ is that it isn’t very hard. … ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ is easy like junior high is easy.

“All the arithmetic, the creative writing and the history are super simple, but like junior high, you do that easy work surrounded by people who are full-tilt, hormone-raging bug nutty. Everyone is panicked, desperate, yelling, swearing, attacking, backstabbing, failing to get laid and acting crazy.

“With all this drama, any sane person just wants to do more algebra. ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ is junior high with a better brand of acne cover-up.”

Gotta say, that’s some good stuff.

The segment exhumed by Trump on air had to do with the hair of the billionaire.

“We’ve chosen to make this whack job, with the cotton candy piss hair and the birther (crap), into someone we want to please,” Jillette wrote. He later said in an interview that he liked Trump because Trump was the guy you could mess with.

“I don’t think people understand what kind of guy Trump is,” Jillette said. “You can (mess) with him. You can say (stuff) about him. I remember Adam Carolla saying to him, ‘How’d you get a haircut like that? Tell the barber, “I (had sex with) your daughter?”

Months later, during the televised finale from New York, Trump said to Jillette, “You attacked me in a lot of ways, attacked my hair, but you did say it was real.”

Jillette answered, “In a funny way, yeah.” Trump then asked if Jillette regretted making those comments, and Jillette responded, “I don’t regret telling the truth, but my mind has changed. I did not know when I was first on the show that it was dishonest. I thought this was a second chance, and I think you can say that since the second season started I have been polite, energetic and nothing but pro-the show … and I’ve enjoyed every second of it.”

Trump also mentioned the letter Jillette had sent to him and asked if it was “from the heart.”

“Completely sincere,” Jillette said.

“I accept that,” Trump said. That was two years ago. Today, his Twitter feed says something different — entirely.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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