Piers Morgan, The Apprentice (Season 7)
Credit: Ali Goldstein

Well, dear readers, we’ve reached the end of the very entertaining parade of egos that was the first season of Celebrity Apprentice. And though Trump and Co. tried to maintain a level of suspense throughout the finale last night, it was pretty obvious from the get-go just who was going to take home the Celebrity Apprentice crown. Yes, after a live boardroom that featured a Japanese-speaking Gene Simmons, some sexual innuendo courtesy of Ivanka, and a performance from our finalist Trace — just think what kind of show we would have gotten had Playboy alum Tiffany Fallon cracked the top two! — Piers was awarded the title of the Celebrity Apprentice (seems Trump prefers the evil to the good after all). And in all fairness, even though we all wanted to see the ever-affable Trace win the whole shebang, there’s no denying that Piers was the star of this show, obnoxious exterior and all.

Last night, we began with an image of Trump sitting in his boardroom as if he were ready to address the union, only to realize that — we’re live! I’m not sure who Trump and Co., convinced to sit in that audience for two hours on a Thursday night — maybe anti-Rosie allies Bill O’Reilly, Barbara Walters and Star Jones? — but somehow, it did appear to be a pretty packed house. Of course, The Donald had to make sure that the announcer named him “the biggest celebrity of them all” (“I’m gonna be HUGE.”), and told his audience that “it’s been a phenomenal season.” Sure, it was a decent season, what with all the Gene Simmons hijinks and Stevie B nonsense — but we all know The Donald would have called it a phenomenal season even if the final showdown was between a plunger and a rubber ducky that he found in his bathroom. It is impossible not to take this man with a grain of salt.

addCredit(“Piers Morgan: Ali Goldstein”)

Now, on to the challenge: Piers got to work straight away, making around of calls that made me wonder how exactly a tabloid king likePiers managed to make friends with all the bigwigs he likely tore apartin the papers (you’ve got to admire someone who could pull that off).First, he managed to get Sharon Osbourne on the phone, and then askedfor some help from Broadway legend Andrew Lloyd Webber, who seems to bedesperate for reality TV exposure this year (see: his upcomingappearance on American Idol). And speak of the devil, the greatSimon Cowell himself made an appearance as well, albeit by telephone(looks like that $8 million contract with that Fox show goes a longway, as the cranky Brit spent $100,000 to shop with Ivanka — here’shoping she shows him there’s more to fashion than black t-shirts).

The tabloid king was on a roll, at least when it came to garneringthose auction packages. In fact, it looked like Piers’ only mistake waschoosing Stevie B as a member of his team. Dude could only nab five ofhis people to attend the charity auction, and he seemed to contributelittle more than incessant babbling. But it was somewhere betweenStevie B’s rousing rendition of “Hallelujah” and his talking to Trace’skids that I suddenly realized that — gasp! — I actually really love thedude. Really, would Celebrity Apprentice have been the samewithout that Stevie B cherry? I think not. (And it seems the studioaudience feels the same way — you woulda thought that one of the JonasBrothers had walked in the room the way the girls began screaming forhim).

Speaking of Trace’s children, seriously, how cute were those girls?If I were Trace, I would’ve conspired to plant my 6-year-old right infront of Trump during the final boardroom — after all, we all know thatTrump can’t resist a well-dressed, cute blonde, right? Too bad thecountry star was too busy with wheatgrass-gate to hatch any such plans.The Backstreet Boys still managed to be a handful just hours beforetheir performance, demanding black nail polish, of all things, fromTrace. (This led the country star to blurt out one of his manyquotables of the night: “So, the most heterosexual cowboy on theplanet and the three-time heavyweight champion of the world go to buyfingernail polish. Not for a woman, not for our wives, for a man.”)Turns out, though, that the BSB didn’t need the wheatgrass juice afterall, as Trace noted, because they put on a decent enough show toentertain the crowd of drunken, hungry philanthropists (emphasis on drunken).

The auction itself was an obvious win for Piers, who landed some bigbidders (see: Simon Cowell, Howard Lutnick, etc.). It’s odd, though,that Trace’s brigade of country stars — including Eddie Montgomery, wholooked like he bought that heinous, patched coat from the QuakerFactory on QVC — neglected to spend much money at the charity auctionitself. I know these country folk may not have the same amount of cashas, say, Simon Cowell or a Cantor Fitzgerald executive, but you thinkthey’d at least shell out a few thousand bucks for the sake of charityand their country kin. You do, however, have to give them props fortrying, but it was fairly obvious that Piers outsold his opponent by awide margin. Not that we should have expected otherwise — since Pierswas the finalist responsible for the charity auction itself, it’s onlynatural to assume that he would be able to put together more attractivepackages while Trace was running around searching for wheatgrass (hintfor the future, Trace: try a Jamba).

But let’s move on to that final boardroom, shall we? After all, weknow that the boardroom is Trump’s favorite part of the show, but let’sface it: it’s not because it’s the most action-packed portion, as heclaims, but because it’s the only part that stars Trump. Any warmfuzzies generated from the charity auction went right out the door assoon as the two finalists sat down in the boardroom: Piers beganpointing out how he “pulverized” Trace when it came to the charityauction and began chastising Stevie B for his moral superioritycomplex. Even Ivanka did her fair share of trash talking when she saidshe would be embarrassed if she were the BSB, what with the way theytreated our poor, wheatgrass-seeking Trace. And then there was thediscussion as to who owned the “ugly” title in our battle between thegood, the bad, and the ugly (Piers’ assertion: “Lewis.”) Though Trumpprolonged the live boardroom a good hour — thanks to a celebrityreunion of sorts, and clips from the show — the night ended the way weall figured it would, and Piers and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fundtook home the big prize.

Were you happy with the result, PopWatchers? Do you think goodshould have trumped evil, regardless of how much money each raised forcharity? Was it me, or did Marilu look smokin’ during the live show?Did you like the live laugh track? Were you amazed hearing Trace’sstory about how he once performed live just hours before getting 18inches of his colon cut out? Would you buy Trace’s single? And finally,did you ever expect that Gene Simmons would be filming a movie inJapan? ‘Til next time, dear friends!