Celebrity Apprentice Finale Recap: Save a Horse, Hire a Cowboy!

Here’s the best compliment I can give both John Rich and Marlee Matlin, the two classiest Celebrity Apprentice finalists ever to sit across from Donald Trump and stare at his crust-colored hair thatch: They exhibited such intelligence and poise during last night’s two-hour finale that I almost forgot how dicey the season really was. Remember Nene Leakes’s remarks about La Toya Jackson’s Casper-like skin? Dionne Warwick’s powerful use of the word “hussy”? David Cassidy’s un-kneaded clay face? They all became distant memories as Rich and Matlin squared off at the final boardroom table, arguing for Trump’s final check like cocky southern lawyers in a Grisham thriller. Was the winner deserving? Join us for a recap of the (partly live) conclusion.

Let’s break down both teams’ actions before we inspect the live portion of the show. We’ll learn a lot about teamwork and 7-Up Retro this way! You’ll grow as a person and die only a little.

JOHN RICH’S TEAM: John and his teammates Lil Jon, Star Jones, and Mark McGrath are a strong foursome for one reason — they’re not the freaks on Marlee’s team. God, look at those cut-ups: La Toya Jackson, Richard Hatch, and Meat Loaf are less handymen than handicaps, and John has none of their emotionally crippled nonsense to deal with. Good on him. Together Star, Mark, and Lil Jon help finish filming John’s commercial and staging his big presentation with ease.The only setback is John’s relationship with Def Leppard, the ’80s band that gave us more stripper anthems than I’m comfortable discussing, who are scheduled to make an appearance during his ’80s-themed presentation. They seem unamused by all of John’s suggestions, but later John claims they were accommodating and helpful. I don’t understand, but Celebrity Apprentice is not about understanding. It is about surviving. Girl, we’re almost there. Hold onto your Jose Canseco Juiced memoirs and pray!

When it comes time for Trump and an audience of unenthusiastic extras to witness John’s final products, we’re treated to a halfway decent commercial (featuring Dee Snider of Twisted Sister as a wannabe auditioner) and one giant-ass snafu: John introduces Def Leppard, but they don’t come onstage. They’re not even in the building yet. They haven’t even poured some sugar on their morning Starbucks yet. Sensing that he’s introduced a band to a crowd of awaiting concertgoers, John improvises and plays an impromptu concert. Yay for inventive desperation! That’s what Donald Trump and his masculinity issues are all about. Soon enough, Def Leppard does arrive, and they blow the roof off the joint. And in an unprecedented couple of scenes, random donors give John $275,000 for his charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. But are these accomplishments explosive enough to earn John the title of Celeb Apprentice champ?

MARLEE MATLIN’S TEAM: What a deranged bunch of convicts. Richard Hatch, who is in jail right now, won’t stop complaining about Marlee’s inability to “step up as project manager.” He needs your authority, Marlee! Because maybe with a little guidance, he can dodge prison. And by “guidance” I mean “adherence to tax laws.” While Def Leppard is a pretty corny choice for John’s ’80s-themed presentation, Marlee is stuck with a worse gimmick for her ’70s-themed one: the Harlem Globetrotters. Yes, after Marlee airs her 7-Up Retro commercial full of disco outfits, glitter balls, and general Meat Loafery, she has to take her audience to see the Harlem Globetrotters stage one of their patriotic basketball expos. This would be a perfect idea if, say, Scooby Doo was the host of Celebrity Apprentice — but he’s not. Instead it’s that shady carnival owner in the gorilla mask named Donald Trump. Hope is fading for Marlee’s squad!

And wait, she’s not done with despair yet: During her final presentation, Marlee presents what could be the single worst commercial in the history of Celebrity Apprentice. I’m serious. There’s no logic, reason, or abstract philosophical throughline to Marlee’s ad, which features La Toya dressed as Wonder Woman, Richard Hatch in a creepy blond afro, and Marlee sporting glittery bell-bottoms. Upsettingly terrible. It has nothing to do with 7-Up either, which might be an important component in a 7-Up ad. Oh, the nonsense! It is so prevalent on this show, yet always a traumatizing surprise.

LIVE SHOW: Before Trump declares a winner, we rejoin him in the present day — in front of a live New York audience — as he reintroduces past contestants ranging from the majorly cleavaged Lisa Rinna to the fierce frown of Nene Leakes. These are hardened broads with axes to grind. Mysteriously, Dionne Warwick and Jose Canseco aren’t in attendance, which is weird because they’re not in idiot jail like Richard Hatch. (Though they’re more than eligible, of course!) Trump asks David Cassidy if Richard Hatch belongs in the pokey, and Cassidy — who fought with Richard in the first episode, he’ll have you know — claims Hatch is “in the right place at the right time.” Super resentful! And a little bit funny, for real. Can’t believe decent humor is able to escape from David Cassidy’s makeup-suffocated pores. It’s so scientifically improbable.

Then comes the season-retrospective clip packages we all know and love on reality show finales. Check it out: Gary Busey was a horrifying Yeti this whole season, wasn’t he? Oh, how we cringed at his every twitch, squeal, and gurgle! Hey, Nene Leakes and Star Jones fought a lot, right? Hey, La Toya was a whining terror in a bandleader jacket, right? It’s not a pleasant season to revisit, honestly. Part of the problem with Celebrity Apprentice is that the ugliness gets nauseating on this show, especially when the same insults and tantrums repeat themselves each episode. I don’t know how you Real Housewives fanboys handle it.

One bit of live fighting was magic, though. During a dust-up between Nene and Star Jones, the former View co-host delivers a verbal smackdown to the Bravo star’s big mouth: “You attacked every black woman on the show. It was embarrassing.” To be fair, Nene did attack all the black women on the show — and even some of the pale green women like La Toya. But there’s no way it was a race-related resentment, and Star should feel weak for bringing the argument to a seriously accusatory place. Donald Trump is not the man we want presiding over televised discussions of race. Or our nation, for that matter. In case we hadn’t settled that matter yet.

After that short-lived brouhaha (and a quick Gary Busey monologue where he explained that Omaha Steaks marketed his senseless kite idea), Trump brings out John Rich and Marlee Matlin for a final consultation. He asks the eliminated contestants to select a winner, and even Team Marlee members like La Toya vote for John Rich! “I think the $275,000 put him over the top!” La Toya chirps with that unmistakable 54-year-old cricket coo. Mark McGrath agrees: “Marlee had the best week in Celebrity Apprentice history,” he says, referring to the challenge where she earned $1 million for charity, “but John had the best season in Celebrity Apprentice history.” McGrath’s powerful endorsement is proud and positive. And he looks like a wolf, which makes it seem fiercer.

Without further ado, Trump selects a champion. Drum-roll please, armless Def Leppard wonder? The winner is John Rich, who we definitely knew was going to win. You can’t argue with a decent soda can design, a solid commercial, and the sudden windfall of $275,000. Marlee may have an Oscar, but John delivered the season’s Best Performance by a Country Troubadour in a Leading Hat. He led the most challenges, used the most creativity, and hid behind the most Stetsons. That’s all respectable in the long run.

I leave you now (on this, our last foray into Celeb Apprentice‘s psychological warfare) with a quote from Gary Busey, who tried to explain how smart he really is during one segment. I’ve broken it down into a poem for your analytical, tenth-grade mind. Godspeed, and don’t explode at the computer after you read this Harlem Renaissance-shaming confessional:

Crazy Like a Fox

I’m very mysterious when I work.
I don’t let others know
what I’m thinking
or how I’m moving.

I’m also trained in neurolinguistic programming,
which means I can watch people’s eyes
when they’re talking to me,
and tell if they’re lying,
telling the truth,
or making up a story

that has nothing to do
with the subject we’re talking on.

What did you think of the finale? Did John deserve to beat Marlee? Did we all deserve to beat David Cassidy senseless? What about Meat Loaf’s obnoxious self-promotion halfway through the live segment? Leave your comments below and tell me if you almost died at any point during the show. I was on the brink of spiritual collapse myself, child. Also: Read me regularly at Movieline.com and find me on Twitter at @louisvirtel!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. meg says:

    loved this commentary.

    also, we all knew John was going to win. As much as I like Marlee, her commercial was atrocious.

  2. Debbie M says:

    David Cassidy shouldn’t be so smug about Richard Hatch being in prison. David just got popped for a DUI himself, so they could end up cellmates. I’m sure he’s just Richard’s type.

    • LeeLee says:

      I highly doubt that he is Rich Hatch’s type….I mean, c’mon….would he be ANYONE’s type? Ewwwwwwwww

      • Debbie M says:

        Back in the Partridge Family days, David was quite the hottie. Plastic surgery has not been his friend.

    • Dee says:

      Used to think David Cassidy was cute back in the day. He is such a disappointment. Eww. Don’t like him at all.

  3. Debbie M says:

    I guess the finale was past Dionne’s bedtime. We already saw earlier in the season that she turns into a pumpkin at 10 PM.

  4. Fairy says:

    This season the two right people were in the final, and either one of them would have deserved to win. Marlee’s commercial was terrible, but I think she did a fantastic job with what she had to work with for the rest of it. John Rich was the most solid all season, so the right one won. No mention of the missing dumb-ass (Dionne) or juicer (Jose). Interesting. Alas, I enjoy this train wreck every year, but this is my last time watching this or any other show by, for, or about Donald Trump. Won’t be supporting anything that man does. Because he’s a nimrod.

    • Kg says:

      Did Marlee ever win …other than the fund raising? tell me something creative she did? her team lost consistently didn’t they?

  5. Debbie M says:

    The Donald needs to lay off the fake tan. He’s starting to look like an Oompa Loompa.

  6. Debra says:

    Looks like I’m alone here. I totally thought Marlee won the final challenge and should have won the title of Celebrity Apprentice. And what was with Donald’s “I’m going to do something totally different here” and then just naming John Rich the winner. Did it mean that although it came across as Marlee the winner, he still hired John Rich? I didn’t get it. And as much as I dislike “Mr.” Trump…I get sucked back in every year.

    • Debbie M says:

      I’m not entirely sure Marlee won the last challenge. JR did a great job improvising for his screw up when announcing the band before they were even there. Plus I think it was based on the body of work through the whole show and not just that one task. Marlee lost control of her team every time Meat Loaf was on it.

    • Joseph says:

      She lost the challenge , though she did a better job with the event.
      But then again this was a 3 part challenge with 2 parts being marketing and 1 part being sales.
      She won the sales part which was the event but lost the marketing parts which were the can / 8 pack container and the commercial.
      The 7up execs made it clear enough who had the better marketing materials but could not say that one can won and another lost with both models in stores because who would buy a can that lost :)

    • Janie says:

      When Donald Trump said he was going to do something different here what he meant was that usually he fires a person and then the person left is the winner.. this time he didnt fire Marlee he just told John he was the winner.. I wonder if that means anything since technically marlee wasnt fired?

    • Rich333 says:

      He didnt fire her he just made John the winner. Not firing was the differance.

  7. George says:

    Wow, I thought Ausiello’s site would be the last one to ever post a spoilery headline and picture above the fold. I thought of all the entertainment bloggers he would understand that some people need to watch the next day.

  8. blingedup.susan says:

    I’m sad to see this season of Celebrity Apprentice end, because I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I looked forward to it every Sunday.

    What DID Trump mean when he said, “I’m going to do something a little different here?” I thought he was going to declare a winner, but then give them both the $250,000 prize money. But he just declared a winner, the confetti showered down, and…….nothing different. That’s the same way the show has ended every season. ?? I didn’t get that at all.

    I think that absolutely the right person won. John Rich was perfect in his play of the game all season. Plus, he was playing for my favorite charity.

    • Kg says:

      good question. when he said it, I thought he was going to name them both.

      after all the endless hoopla….what an undramatic ending, “Mister” Trump

    • Jeremy says:

      Normally Trump will say someone’s name, and then say “You’re HIRED!” iNSTEAD OF “yOU’RE FIRED.”

      So he announced it a bit more formally with his, “The winner of this season’s Celebrity Apprentice is…”

  9. Kg says:

    oh thank god for you telling the truth – Marlee’s commercial sucked. You know – people who are deaf surely don’t want to be treated differently, do they? Marlee was for sure. Great, really great that she raised all that money. But, please, the woman lacked authoritativeness.

    It is unbelievable that an actress can be so devoid of creativity

    I wish Lil John had been in the finals though…he deserved it. Too bad he wasn’t into the whole thing as much as John Rich.

  10. Word Money G says:

    The right guy won. Marlee was very good, but John Rich was great week after week after week. It would be fun to watch Rich go against Piers Morgan.

  11. kacky says:

    Marlee’s commercial was just a bunch of meat Loaf’s buzzwords strung together. Most of it was ungrammatical, so it was incoherent. There didn’t seem to be a point. There were too many little annoying distractions, like LaToya’s upside-down headgear. Then she makes some kind of gibberish statement and raises the arm that doesn’t have the bracelet-shield on. It’s a microcosm of what was wrong with the entire ad.

  12. June Buggs says:

    I think Marlee Matlin should have won the Celebrity Apprentice.
    She is such a class act. She raised an amazing amount of money, worked hard in every challenge and seemed to get along well with everybody. Glad Dionne Warwick didn;t show up for the finale, who wants to listen to that old bat bitch anymore, sure got my eyes opened up about her. I know I;ll never listen to her crooning again she cheesed me off so bad. Miss Dionne….go home and go to bed and rest those nostrils. Can you imagine if she ever gets a cold what blowing that honker would be like…..then there was NeNe. Kinda mental don’t you think. She just kept going on and on and on.
    I think Meatloaf needs some mental health help. Maybe a bit bi polar. First hes up and then hes crying or screaming at somebody, oh well two out of three ain;t bad….David Cassiday have you ever seen anybody as held together with more plastic surgery than that…oops…forgot about LaToya….what did she ever do anyway, other than with those front teeth obviously she is a thumb sucker, Mark McGrath…now don;t forget the lerics…a game show host for goodness sake….I think Conseco didn;t come back cause he just couldn;t handle the gay performance he did in the one commercial, got too much flac from his buddies, lil john, DID he have eyes under those stupid sunglasses, take em off, Richard Hatch, jeez just pay your taxes idiot, Who the heck is John Rich anyway, never heard of him, and then there is poor Gary, Dr. Drew did a good job of at least getting him out of re hab. Star Jones, well doesn;t she think she is something classy, just not there. Anyway, Trump should cut his hair properly, quit wearing those cheesy coloured ties and get a new makeup artist for his wrinkled old puss, he does keep his younguns working though. Every day he tells them what day it is and they do that day. Pathetic, Trumps wife is as old as his daughter, must be really fun at Christmas dinner huh. Anyway, lets gets some real celebrities on her, not has beens or drop the whole darn thing.

    • Kacky says:

      Families like that don’t sit down to holiday dinners together. They probably all go to separate vacation resorts. My husband teaches wealthy children and that’s what their parents all do. Families of a certain social strata are uncomfortable being too close to each other. The kids stay with the nannies and the parents go drinking.

  13. Dee says:

    I quite enjoyed the season. Changed my opinions of some people. In the end loved Gary Busey. He is what he is and its entertaining. Hated Dionne Warwick. She is just a nasty piece of work. There is nothing redeeming about her. David Cassidy is a snivelling wimp. Impressed by LaToya. There is more to her than a soft voice. Hugely impressed in every way by John Rich. Such a stellar guy. Jose Consaco is a loser. He’s like a blob of blah. Meatloaf is a meatloaf. Huge mood swings. Star Jones is true to her reputation. Beyond that, was quite impressed by most of the contestants and how they handled themselves.

  14. jewelgreen says:

    La Toya also writes that Michael’s daughter Paris told her that he cried a lot before he died and “was always cold.” La Toya goes on to say that after Michael died, she found a note in his bedroom that he had written to their father Joe Jackson, asking him to get “these people out of my life.” …way to go LaToya just in time for Murray’s lawyers of seize on this for the trial. http://bit.ly/jFv2gx

    • kacky`` says:

      That’s like something from a sci fi horror movie. All those people controlling him and bleeding him dry, including his family! Too bad he couldn’t live long enough for his children to understand and put a stop to it.

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