John Rich and Marlee Matlin fight to the finish as Trump picks a winner

By Dalton Ross
Updated May 23, 2011 at 05:56 AM EDT
Credit: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC
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Hey, guys. I’m going to “do something a little different” this time. And by “do something a little different” I mean do the exact same thing I do each and every week — break down the most amazing show in the history of television, The Celebrity Apprentice. Think I’m adding a tad of hyperbole by affixing such a label to a silly reality show? Nonsense! When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Trump land, do as Trump does, which means shouting out absurd declarations as facts and ignoring any and all evidence to the contrary. You know, declarations such as “I delivered the most entertaining cast of stars ever!” And my personal favorite to Marlee Matlin: “You won the Academy Award. And you’re an even bigger star now!” Really, she’s a bigger star for appearing on your show than she was for winning the most prestigious award in all of Hollywood? You know what, Donald? That’s totally and utterly…CORRECT! Because Celebrity Apprentice is, after all, the most amazing show in the history of television!!! And it can be even more amazing if they follow my casting suggestions for next season.

But back to Trump and his declarations. They usually make no sense in a “that can’t be actually true” kind of way, but last night he topped himself by saying something that made no sense because he simply didn’t follow through on it. Right before naming John Rich as his winner, he promised “I’m gonna do something a little different tonight.” Only then he proceeded to do nothing different in the least, naming Rich his champ and then saying goodnight. I have to imagine there was a production snafu that led to the last minute confusion. The show was clearly running short on time so whatever Trump planned, they simply skipped it and got right to the decision. But what was it? There are some theories floating around that the difference was that he did not fire Marlee, but he never does that at finales, merely “hiring” the winner, so no difference there. Was Trump going to deliver his decision in sign language (which would have been rubbing a little extra salt on Marlee’s wounds considering she didn’t win)? Was he going to put the cowboy hat on again and start singing “For the Kids?” Was he going to name La Toya the winner because he seemed mildly obsessed with her all season long anyway? I have no idea, but there were plenty of other oddities and awesome moments to cherish so let’s roll out the red carpet and get to it.

* Did someone say red carpet? This was clearly one of the most amazing openings to any Celebrity Apprentice episode, even more amazing than when Trump ordered his limo away with the words “I’m walking” (apparently to accentuate his man of the people-ness). This time around, Trump walked down the streets of New York City while two dudes literally rolled out a red carpet in front of him. Some may call it a silly stunt. I say it should be a permanent way of life. Imagine if Trump had these two schmoes roll out the carpet everywhere he went. How pimped out would that be? Or, if Trump felt that was showing off too much — and really, what are the chances of that happening? — he could always make it orange to match the color of his skin. Merely a suggestion.

NEXT: Lisa’s girls come out to play

* While Trump usually stands alone with his hilarious awesome-is-me comments, he had some legitimate competition this episode thanks to soda pitchman celebrity Geoffrey Holder (who also scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid with his role in Live or Let Die). After being told by La Toya that he looked fabulous upon arriving to tape his 7UP ad with Marlee, Holder responded with “I know I look fabulous.” I know I look fabulous? I mean, he appears to be black and all, but are we sure this guy is not a Trump? Have we double-checked the genealogy chart? Because I don’t know about you, but with that attitude and his sleek white suit, I could totally see that dude walking down a four-block long red carpet. Just sayin’.

* Did I miss something with the Def Leppard thing when they first showed up? John Rich talked about the need to get the band on board with what he wanted to do, told them his idea for them to help him with a kick drum to start the show, they refused, and then he gushed about how accommodating they were. Huh? To quote Def Leppard themselves, are you gettin’ it? Armageddon it! Or Armanotgeddon it, as it were.

* Hey, Lisa Rinna! GET YOUR DAMN BOOBS OUT OF MY FACE! Good golly, Miss Molly, those things were everywhere! And I don’t know if this was by design or not but every single time they cut to a shot of Star Jones at the live finale, there were Lisa Rinna’s boobs filling the screen. There was even one creepy moment where David Cassidy bent down to either A) Get his face a little more screen time; B) Get a closer look at Lisa Rinna’s boobs; or C) Both A & B. Speaking of Cassidy, when did that guy become such a Bitter Betty? Given the opportunity to take the high road when asked his thoughts about nemesis Richard Hatch being in jail, Cassidy took a road so low I’m pretty sure it was submerged under 12 feet of water. “I think he’s in the right place at the right time,” smirked Cassidy, which, frankly, wasn’t very big of him. ZING!

* Somewhere at this very moment, Gary Busey is talking to either a department store mannequin or a passed out homeless person and explaining in excruciatingly slow detail about how he created the first ever Omaha Steaks kite. He may not have landed the Australian Gold account, but there was Busey, shilling for Omaha, whether Trump was going to give him the time or not. (Speaking of shilling, did anyone see that John Rich OnStar ad about halfway through the broadcast?) I actually didn’t catch much of his kite spiel because I was too busy washing my eyes out with soap to get rid of the image of Busey and Meat Loaf sucking face in front of Donald Trump. And yes, that is the least sexy sentence I have ever written in my entire life.

NEXT: John Rich has a Spinal Tap moment

* Even though her teammates said Marlee lacked delegating skills during the task, her event seemed to run super smooth. John Rich’s? Not so much. His introduction of “Ladies and gentlemen, Def Leppard!!!!!!” — followed by 20 minutes of no Def Leppard — was like something straight out of Spinal Tap. On the bright side, it gave JR a chance to perform his a cappella classic “7UP is Rockin’ the Country” not once but twice! (Unfortunately that ditty lacked both the hook and Dee Sniderism of my personal favorite from the 7UP cannon, “7UP Retro, Keeping it Reeeeeeeaaaaaaal.”

* While we’re on the subject of Def Leppard — and if only we could always be on the subject of a band who has written songs like “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Make Love Like a Man” — anyone notice that one guitarist with his shirt completely unbuttoned? Was that a Lisa Rinna impersonation or something? I mean, at that point, why even wear the shirt? And it’s not like this guy exactly had the goods to be showing off either. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Not all merchandise belongs in the display window. If you’re gonna make love like a man, I’m not sure it should be that man.

* Proving that David Cassidy is not the only cast member to still hold a grudge, NeNe and Star Jones got into a full on shouting match when reunited on the stage, even as NeNe comically remarked that, “I don’t hold grudges. That’s not who I am.” Star then accused NeNe of attacking every black woman on the show, ensuring that things would not end well between them, contrary to Trump’s claims that they would go out to lunch and end up best friends. Star’s accusation was a difficult one to hear, but it really got me thinking about important issues — issues like…where the hell is Dionne Warwick? I mean, we knew Richard Hatch would be in jail. And you couldn’t reasonably expect flaky Jose Canseco to make an appearance. But Dionne? Unless she was off with Madame trying to organize a Solid Gold reunion, her absence was completely inexcusable.

* Check out Jack Jason getting his close-up! Okay, the shtick with Trump demanding 25% of Jack’s pay was a bit awkward, but it was nice to see double J get some well-deserved attention. As we discussed on the InsideTV Podcast, he should come back next season as a contestant, with Marlee signing all of his answers for him. PAYBACK!

* If I am Marlee Matlin today, I am pretty pissed that my teammates sold me out in the end. First La Toya all but admitted in the Boardroom that the men’s soda can was better, and then both she and Meat Loaf (whom she picked first for her team) voted for John Rich at the end instead of her. As for Richard Hatch, his vote from jail was controlled by prisoner #37529 (a.k.a. “Tiny”), to whom Hatch traded it for “protective services.” Tiny said he voted for Marlee due to him being a big fan of her work on The L Word when she “got freaky with some other hot-ass beayothces.”

NEXT: Trump makes his choice

* I know it was corny, but I did like seeing John perform “For the Kids” with Marlee and the New York School For the Deaf students signing along. And I know it was even cornier, but the way it ended with silence and “jazz hands” (the way deaf people show their appreciation instead of clapping) was a nice touch as well. See, I can be a total sap when I want to be.

* After Trump’s aborted promise to do something different, John Rich was named the winner. For the first time in Celebrity Apprentice finale history, I did not have a clear favorite. Both players were amazing all season long. And although I realize I may give off a vaguely creepy Bret Michaels vibe by saying this, I have to admit I did become a bit sweet on Marlee. This is, of course, a dangerous admission to make seeing as how Marlee is married to a police officer who could mace me, tase me, beat me with a billy club, or do whatever cops do to scrawny stalkerish writers in their spare time. What I’m trying to say is that I did become fond of her personally and her dedication to her charity, which is obviously near and dear to her heart. I hoped she’d win, but I feel none of the anger like when a clearly undeserving Joan Rivers beat out Annie Duke back in season 2. John Rich did an amazing job so a big congratulations to him.

And with that, we have to wait another nine months to get our next dose of insanity. Will any of my casting suggestions come true? One can only hope. But before you go, make sure to sound off on the finale. Did the right person win? And what was the most awesomely absurd moment in your book? Hit the message boards and let us know. And for reality ramblings all year round, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. (You can also hear my pre-finale interview with John and Marlee by clicking on the audio player icon below.) Thanks so much for playing along all season. I hope you’ve had as much fun reading these recaps as I had writing them. It’s been an honor and pleasure to serve you, dear Celebrity Apprentice freaks. Until 2012 — Cluck, Cluck…Splash!

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The Celebrity Apprentice

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