NBC to Trump: You're hired, again

Joan Melissa Rivers Donald Trump

for a ninth season of the reality show to air next spring.

Production is expected to begin this fall, when 16 yet-to-be-named celebrities meet and compete in business-oriented challenges.

The news came as the current season sprints toward its finale on Sunday, May 10.

Trump seemed perplexed by Joan Rivers’ outburst last Sunday after he fired her daughter, Melissa.Rivers blasted the players who allegedly had plotted her daughter’s downfall, calling

Brande Roderick Annie Duke

a “white trash” poker player.

“That was an interesting reaction,” Trump said. “I thought Joan would be much different than that.”

No doubt the fireworks will come up in discussion on Tuesday when Trump makes his first trip back to

Barbara Walters Rosie O’Donnell

’s ugly exit from the show two years ago.

Remember that? He told reporters that Walters was happy O’Donnell had been fired, and Walters denied publicly having said it.

Trump and Walters made up a few weeks ago on Walters’ satellite radio show.