Clay and Arsenio face-off in a battle to the very end, while Magic Johnson's face can barely be seen at all
Celebrity Apprentice Arsenio Hall
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Donald Trump is no fool, ladies and gentlemen. Sure, he thought the USFL could compete with the NFL. Yes, he had some rocky financial times in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And I have no idea what the hell is gong on with his hair. But more often than not, the man knows what he is doing. Take the firing of Aubrey O’Day last night, for instance. No way she could win the show with all the losses she accumulated and people she pissed off along the way. But the woman is television gold. Pure gold. (Just ask her! She’ll tell you!)

So what did Trump do? Only the most genius thing ever. He fired her at the exact moment where not only would she not miss a single episode, but she would only be gone for a grand total of about 90 seconds! It’s like she walked straight out of the Boardroom for a potty break and then met the final two and everyone else at Lincoln Center to get started back up again on the final task. Perfect!

Because make no mistake, Aubrey O’Day is a remarkable specimen that deserves to be observed and studied from every possible angle. Said Aubrey after her firing: “I’m somebody that stands in your face and is so bright and shines so big that you’re either intimidated, you’re annoyed, or you’re in love.” Actually, I’m all three! (You could also throw in confused, amused, occasionally disgusted, and thoroughly fascinated.) I would like to personally stand up and give Aubrey a slow clap in recognition of her many contributions to the most wonderfully absurd show in television history. She made it even that much more wonderful and that much more absurd, right through her final proclamation that “I hope I die undeveloped.” I don’t quite understand if that means she wants to die young and ignorant or old and stupid, but it’s an amazing comment either way. Bravo, Aubrey! You have more than secured your spot on Celebrity Apprentice: All Stars.

One final note about Aubrey’s firing: Did you catch her two-handed blow kiss to phony baloney Boardroom receptionist Amanda Miller on her way out? And, more importantly, did you catch phony baloney Boardroom receptionist Amanda Miller’s one-handed blow kiss back? Why, just last week we had Amanda on our InsideTV Podcast and talked about the need for her to come up with a go-to move to give departing contestants to replace her usual sympathetic nod and wave. THIS IS IT! I even have a catchy nickname for it: The Kiss-Off. Amanda, starting next season, I expect all fired celebrities — whether it be Boy George, Jackée, or the dude who played Paulie Walnuts — to receive The Kiss-Off.

But don’t you kiss off until we get to the finest moments of last night’s episode. Just one rule: Everyone has to turn sideways to the right and try to read this only through your left eye’s peripheral vision. This is how Magic Johnson reads all my recaps.

NEXT: The most awkward Boardroom statement ever

1. What the Hell is Arsenio Hall Talking About?

Once Aubrey was dismissed, Clay Aiken began experiencing American Idol déjà vu. Would he once again lose out on an elusive reality show title? You know, Clay and Ruben Studdard had such a nice friendship. They were complete opposites — one big and black, the other lanky and white — but they shared one thing in common, an incredible ability to reach out and touch audiences through the power of song. I think when you look back at their relationship on American Idol, however, what really stands out the most is the fact that Ruben never once threatened “getting in your ass.”

ARSENIO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Why are you telling your homosexual friend/competitor on national television that “I’m getting in your ass?” Don’t do that! Don’t get in his ass! You need to focus on the final task for crissakes! “You might want to rephrase that,” replied Clay in perhaps the understatement of the millennium. Seriously! I mean does that even make sense as some sort of friendly trash-talk challenge? I’m kicking your ass, or your ass is mine — sure, those make sense. They reference a thorough victory promised to be delivered at a later time and place. But “I’m getting in your ass?” That promises something altogether different. Was Arsenio trying to combine “getting in your head” and “kicking your ass” because he was simply too lazy to do both? I have no idea. The only thing I am sure of at this point is that I need to move off this topic as quickly as possible.

2. No One Likes To Be Picked Last…Especially The Person Who Was Just Picked Last

Half the fun of bringing back celebrities for the final task is that often The Donald’s choices seem to be completely random. Remember two years ago when Darryl Strawberry was brought back just so he could sleep through one more project? That decision was ludicrous. Which also meant it was amazing. Unfortunately, this year the returnees made an annoying amount of sense — with one noticeable absence. We got Debbie, Aubrey, Lisa, Teresa, Penn, Dee, Adam, and Paul — but no sixth place finisher Dayana. Interesting omission, because that’s a fair share of drama Trump was sacrificing had she ended up on a team with either Clay or Lisa. I also would have liked to have seen Mr. 110% himself, Lou Ferrigno, instead of the emotion-free Paul, but whatevs.

However, instead of assigning the players to Arsenio and Clay willy nilly for their task of creating a 30 second ad, party, and performance for their own charity, Trump allowed the two finalists to take part in a good ol’ fashioned schoolyard pick ‘em. While Arsenio’s first pick of Adam was surprising, Clay using his first selection on former nemesis Penn was downright shocking. But there was an interesting little sideshow playing out here as well.

Cut to Arsenio saying that for his next selection “I would like the lovely and talented…”

Cut to Aubrey smiling.

Cut to Arsenio finishing his sentence “…Lisa Lampanelli!”

Cut to Aubrey smiling awkwardly.

Cut to Clay picking Debbie next because he was “turning my attention to music.”

Cut to professional singer Aubrey smiling awkwardly.

Cut to Arsenio picking “The resourceful, pretty…”

Cut to Aubrey smiling.

Cut to Arsenio finishing his sentence “…Paulie Sr!”

Cut to Aubrey smiling awkwardly.

Cut to Clay selecting another singer…Dee.

Cut to Aubrey looking like she wants to stab Clay through the heart with a Chi Touch hair dryer.

Cut to Trump laughing about there being only two people left.

Cut to Arsenio picking Teresa Giudice. Teresa Giudice!!!

Cut to Aubrey looking mortified at being unpicked and taking the walk of shame over to Clay’s team. “Haters are hating once again,” she informed us. They certainly are.

NEXT: Enter the Penis Cage

3. Step Into My Office — If You Dare!

They say Celebrity Apprentice is all fun and games. That there are no valuable life lessons to be learned. I beg to differ. For instance, if you are ever asked by a man to step into his office…and he brags about doing conjugal visits in that office…and that office happens to be a cage…and in the office that happens to be a cage and in which he performs conjugal visits he also happens to have a giant penis statue…well, let’s just say you might want to think twice about entering. That G.I. Joe type lesson — giving new meaning to the phrase “That’s one to grow on” — was delivered by Adam Carolla this week while shopping for costumes for Arsenio’s Magic Johnson Foundation PSA. And it turns out Adam wasn’t the only one hesitant to set foot in the office/dungeon.

“Seriously, have you ever been in the penis cage?” he asked another store employee.

“No I haven’t,” came the response.

“Where do you eat your lunch — penis cage?” Adam continued.

‘No, downstairs in the prop section.”

Smart man. Oh, and this just in: Teresa Giudice is currently peeing in her pants. CLEAN UP IN AISLE 4!

4. The Quote That Makes You Wish They Had Been Making Celebrity Apprentice 25 Years Ago

“If you had told me that I’d be singing ‘Baby Love’ with Debbie Gibson in the 1980s, I would have punched you in the face.” — Dee Snider

5. Wigging Out

I used to think Celebrity Apprentice was the perfect TV show, But I was wrong. I realize now what has been missing all this time. So can we just make a rule right here and right now that all future Celebrity Apprentice contestants must perform for the entirety of the season in stupid-looking wigs and costumes? I mean, Adam Carolla was fun to watch this year, but imagine how much more fun he would have been dressed up like a member of Prince and The Revolution the entire time. Tell me that Buick Verano presentation wouldn’t have been 30 million times more awesome had he been decked out in his new romantic gear. You don’t have to tell me because I already know! Lisa? I’m not entirely sure if she was supposed to look like Madonna, Bette Midler, or Dolly Parton with that fake hair, and I don’t care — wig her up! As far as I can tell, Paul was wearing the same wig as Lisa. That’s fine too; contestants can share. It would be even better if they had to wear the same wig…at the same time! They’d have to walk around like conjoined twins. What, you think this show wouldn’t do that? I honestly can’t believe they haven’t done it already!

The one problem I do have with this year’s final task is that by doing projects for their own charities, it takes out the element of having to please a corporate sponsor. That always leads to some good drama and also clearer guidelines as to who actually did a better job. Thankfully, Arsenio’s team decided on their own to all dress up like idiots, insuring some good fun nonetheless. Like when Teresa used the opportunity to tell us how huge her hair was in the ’80s. “I really love Teresa,” said Adam. “She has a great sort of youthful enthusiasm, It might be called naïveté. And I can say that freely because she doesn’t know what that word means. She’s at home looking that crap up right now.”

NEXT: Magic Johnson does an impression of a Paul Giamatti movie

But as fun as that was, nothing could prepare me for what was about to come next. We knew something was going to go wrong with the Magic Johnson footage for the PSA. We just knew it. Especially when they had the delay getting the footage transferred from L.A. I figured the footage simply wouldn’t make it. Or maybe it wouldn’t be framed perfectly. Or possibly the focus would be a bit off. When Adam informed us that his audio podcast guys had recorded it, rather than actual video professionals, that just reinforced the notion that everything was going too easy for Arsenio and it was about to come crashing down. But little did I realize it would come crashing down in the most hilarious, amazing, incredible way possible. I actually cried from laughter when I saw what happened. Real tears. Streaming down my face.

Just to set the table here, the team had recorded Arsenio passing a basketball off a little bit to the right hand side of the screen where Magic would catch it in L.A. and then talk all about his Foundation and the important work it does. That’s all well and good, but what Magic actually did was — after looking front and center for about 2 seconds — turn sideways 90 degrees to his right, and instead of telling the viewers about his foundation, he appeared to be telling it to someone off stage. Who was he talking to? Not Arsenio, because he wasn’t supposed to be all the way to Magic’s right. So now Magic looked like a crazy person talking to the guy holding the boom mic or maybe some sort of gaffer or something. Basically, he looked like he was talking to anyone but the people he was supposed to be talking to. Magic also kind of looked like he was doing the “Cha Cha Slide,” “Macarena,” or any other stupid line dance song where people jump to the side periodically for no reason whatsoever. Because he was talking to the right for no reason whatsoever. It goes without saying that this was my favorite moment of the entire season. In fact, I am starting to cry right now just thinking about it again! Seriously, I need to stop before I get tears all over my keyboard and short-circuit the laptop.

6. Debbie Shakes Her Love/Clay Shakes His Fist

Outside of Magic Johnson talking to nobody, Arsenio has had a pretty smooth ride so far. No so for Clay, who spent half of the task wandering the streets of New York while getting yelled at by little league baseball coaches and making little kids break the law by hopping a fence to shoot his ad in a restricted area. And then things got even worse when he met up with the rest of the team. Little did Clay realize he would be butting heads constantly with Crystal Light songstress Debbie Gibson.

NEXT: Aubrey becomes an honorary Claymate

Round 1 began when Debbie questioned Clay’s decision to play music on the ad. Clay thought things were getting better when Lisa Lampanelli — who was playing for the other team! — called and offered to pay big bucks for a ticket to his show. In fact, he got so happy, he even started sucking face with Aubrey. But then it was time for Round 2. Clay and Debbie went at it over music again, but this time music for the actual show they had to perform. She wanted input from him; he wanted to see everything from start to finish before giving notes. And even though they kept saying this to each other over and over while standing face to face, neither seemed to get the message. Perhaps if one of them had pulled a Magic Johnson and turned the other way to speak — like, towards a wall or something — maybe that would have worked.

Then came Round 3, in which Clay and Debbie argued about the mural that Debbie’s cousin was going to paint. Clay was insistent that nothing go on the wall until he could approve a sketch of it. As Project Manager, that’s smart. I mean, no offense, but are you going to trust a $250,000 prize to Debbie Gibson’s cousin? What if she puts up a big mural of the Electric Youth album cover? You can’t risk it. “Paint will not go on the wall unless I’ve seen some sketches,” said Clay. Before all was said and done, Debbie was calling Clay “insecure” and Clay was correcting how Debbie spoke on the phone to her own cousin. Which is exactly the type of cliffhanger drama you want heading into a finale. Well, that and a very confused man standing sideways.

I know you want to get to the big finale right now, but I’ve got some goodies to tide you over. Clay and Arsenio are going to follow in the footsteps of John Rich and Marlee and pay a visit later this week to join me in studio (read: my cruddy office) for the InsideTV Podcast, so keep an eye (and ear) out for that. And for even more Celebrity Apprentice inanity and insanity, you can follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. Okay, the message boards are open for business, boys and girls, so hit ‘em and hit ‘em hard. Until next week: Cluck, Cluck…[turning to the right] Splash!

Episode Recaps

The Celebrity Apprentice
Donald Trump, “you’re fired” — you know the drill.
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