Gotta admit, it’s a relief to be done with this season even if Celebrity Apprentice is never coming… wait, WHAT?!
The Final Challenge
Welcome to the live Celebrity Apprentice finale, in which we spend a solid 3/4 of the evening watching prerecorded content on giant screens. After the abbreviated theme music,1 we pick up where we left off last week.
Geraldo Rivera and Leeza Gibbons are competing for a $250,000 donation to their pet charities, plus the CA title. Each contestant and their team of former opponents must produce an ad for Universal Orlando’s theme parks and resort. They’ll present their ads at a red carpet gala in New York City, and raise money by selling vacation packages. The winner will be determined by ad quality, presentation and the amount of funds raised.
On ad production day, Geraldo’s team struggles to get all their shots because SOMEBODY2 turned micromanager and completely changed the script his assistants had written. When a group of child actors get lost in the confusion, Geraldo blames Lorenzo Lamas, Vivica Fox and Ian Ziering for this error. His brusque “damage control” attitude is annoying, but his intense energy keeps everyone focused on getting the job done.
Team Leeza moves through their production day with zero interpersonal drama. The only snafu is when random crowds swarm ad director/everyday pop star Kevin Jonas, interfering with their shoot. No matter – once Lord Kevin kindly asks the crowd to part, they dutifully scatter. Leeza is so impressed with his directorial prowess that she leaves to get a jump on editing. Presumably, Brandi Glanville and Johnny Damon are no longer sneaking off on lazy junior high dates,3 because they seem to get along with Kevin just fine. All work is completed in timely fashion and everyone celebrates with post-production churros.
At the NYC red carpet gala, Geraldo presents his ad first. Surprise! It features a whole lotta him, guiding children on a park-themed adventure. After the screening, he welcomes Tony Orlando to the stage. Why Tony Orlando? His sister was developmentally disabled and he feels a special connection to Geraldo’s charity, Life’s WORC. And as Geraldo noted, who doesn’t know the words to “Tie a Yellow Ribbon”?4. Leeza follows up with her ad, in which an over-scheduled dad learns to let loose and have fun with the family. She also shares a touching personal story about her mother’s struggle with Alzheimers and the work her charity, Leeza’s Care Connection, does for families of Alzheimer’s patients. Fitting with her theme, “The Magic of Memories”, she invites Olivia Newton-John onstage to sing “Magic”.
In the prerecorded boardroom, Trump brings in both teams and asks everyone how they got along. Despite Geraldo’s hotheadedness, his team stands behind his work. Leeza’s team adores her without question. The Universal execs loved both presentations, though they thought Geraldo’s ad lacked a family focus while Leeza’s ad failed to capitalize on her crew’s celebrity. Production-wise, Leeza’s seemed much better. But the real question is, who raised the most money? When Trump announces that the totals weren’t even close, it seems a safe assumption that Geraldo’s gaggle of Fox News associates put him over the top… except that wasn’t the case at all. Leeza’s total beat his by over $150,000. Sooo, what else is there to talk about?..
All the Other Stuff
In the live portion of the evening, Trump welcomes back (almost) all the other season 7 celebtestants, including Keshia Knight-Pulliam, Gilbert Gottfried, Jamie Anderson, Terrell Owens, Kate Gosselin and Kenya Moore.5Then they are joined by Vivica, Ian, Lorenzo, Kevin, Brandi and Johnny. Trump drudges up old Kenya vs. Brandi and Vivica vs. Kenya drama, but nothing new or interesting is revealed.
Melissa Rivers joins Trump onstage for a tribute to her mother, Joan. This video montage includes many sentimental and funny JR clips. Melissa weeps at Trump’s boardroom table, which is an awkward, though probably well-intended moment.
Finally — FINALLY — Trump gets Leeza and Geraldo to his oversized table. Pretty much every player aside from Kenya and Kate is behind Leeza. She won way more challenges. She never got called back to the boardroom. She rescued Geraldo’s team from a five challenge losing streak. And according to Trump, she also won the final challenge.6 Geraldo consistently offered terrible ideas to a losing team. His one conceit is that he raised more money over the course of the season. In other words, he made it to the finale was by being a manipulator and knowing lots of rich people. In Trump’s world, that’s called “merit”…
But true accomplishment wins in the end, and so does Leeza. HOORAY!
The More You Know
So, what did we learn in this Celebrity Apprentice finale?
- Back in the 1970s, Geraldo did an expose on abusive group homes for the developmentally disabled, hence his connection to Life’s WORC. Nice to know there’s something nice to know about Geraldo.
- Vivica is an Olivia Newton-John super fan. Seeing her groove to “Magic” during the opposing team’s presentation was my favorite harbinger of Geraldo’s imminent loss.
- Again, Gilbert wins for best line of the night. When Trump asks why he gave up so easily in the boardroom, he replies, “I gave up because I’m going through menopause.”
- Sometimes, treating employees with respect and maintaining a calm, upbeat, professional demeanor creates a successful work environment. Trump and Geraldo are FLOORED by this concept, but Leeza proves it.
- This show is not dead. NBC liked the ratings enough to renew it for another season. Which reality TV alums, retired athletes and ex-pageant queens will compete in the next installment? What sort of race and gender baiting will fuel all that irrelevant drama? Tune in next season and let me know. Or not.
- I’ll assume the live audience applause is intended for The O’Jays, and rightfully so. ↵
- Geraldo ↵
- Hot dogs, roller coasters and clumsy flirting – ick, ick, ick. ↵
- Me. Possibly you. Most anyone under the age of 40 ↵
- Crab boat captain Sig Hansen and Olympian Shawn “That Time of the Month” Johnson were conspicuously absent. ↵
- No duh ↵