Donald Trump’s fifth rendition of “Celebrity Apprentice” featured its fair share of fireworks, including Lisa Lampanelli’s histrionics, Aubrey O’Day’s narcissism, Dayana Mendoza’s battles with seemingly every other woman on the show and 110 percent of Lou Ferrigno’s muscles.
But tonight, it came down to “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken and former late-night talk show host Arsenio Hall.
Trump named Hall the winner. Based on what we saw (which was heavily edited), it was a close call. Aiken raised more money but Hall won both his challenges while Aiken split his. As for the events themselves, we heard very little critique about either of them so it’s hard to say what Trump’s line of thinking was. While Aiken’s team had more rancor, the events themselves appeared to run smoothly.
So for Aiken, it was deja vu all over again. He lost to Ruben Studdard nine years ago on ‘Idol.”
“I came here with low expectations,” Aiken said in his defense to Trump on the live show. “I think I exceeded them and raised the bar.”
Hall said he has been taking care of his son and is trying to re-emerge with another talk show. “I have lived the life of ‘The Apprentice.’ I just need the title!” he said.
[Some readers here believe Arsenio's greatest talent was massaging Trump's ego and doing so with greater dexterity than Clay. Another theory: Trump is buddies with Magic Johnson, whose charity Arsenio wisely chose. Also, NBCUniversal is working with Johnson on a new cable TV venture. A third theory: Trump prefers the "bigger" name, which he does tend to pick based on past years.]
In both cases, it’s not just that they believed in their respective charities (the Magic Johnson Foundation and Clay’s own The National Inclusion Project) but it was about redemption. Arsenio’s career, which was huge in the early 1990s, has since been eclipsed by relative obscurity. Clay, after huge success after he almost won “Idol” in 2003, has seen his musical career wane and Claymates melt away.
During the live show, Dee Snider and Debbie Gibson supported Clay. “He’s creative. He’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s a great leader. He’s a good guy,” Snider said. Teresa Giudice and Dayana Mendoza picked Arsenio.
In the challenge, taped last fall, Clay seemed to be micromanaging, at least in the eyes of O’Day and Gibson, who say he is not trusting them to do their jobs. “I have to have my hand in everything because it’s my project,” he said. “It’s not just any charity. It’s my charity.”
Once the event started, Clay received a few big checks: $20,000 from Claymates. $10,000 from Kelly Clarkson, 10,000 from Lisa Lampanelli, who gave to him despite working for Aresnio. His variety show focused on music, of course, which is why he picked Gibson, Dee Snider and O’Day to his team.
But Arsenio’s comedy buddies pulled in some real cash: $5,000 from Jay Leno - twice. $5,000 from Chris Rock. Eddie Murphy threw in $10,000. George Lopez gave $5,000. Jimmy Kimmel, another $10,000. And $10,000 from the Andretti family. “All my boys were stepping up,” he said. He created a comedy show, with help from Lampanelli and Adam Corolla
In the end, it was artful editing. Clay actually pulled in nearly twice as much money: $301,500 vs $167,100 for Arsenio.
But that wasn’t the only criteria to win or lose. It’s about the party, the PSA, the variety show et. al. Both events appeared to go fairly smoothly. Arsenio’s PSA was more entertaining. Clay’s party, with the carnival theme, appeared more fun. The variety shows were a wash. It depends on your taste there.
On the live show, the ever aggravating O”Day said her behavior on the show wasn’t always flattering: “I’m a fierce competitor. I suffer from a young, passionate heart. I have had anxiety in proving myself … You can’t combat bad wtih bad. You have to turn it into a good. I didn’t always do that. I apologize anytime people took it personally. I don’t want to offend. I’m competitor and I want to win.I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
Lampanelli admitted that she had issues: “I need more hormonal treatment than Chaz Bono!”
And “Idol” aficionados might get a kick watching the odd quartet of Lee DeWyze, Blake Lewis, Elliot Yamin and Thia Megia promoting their upcoming shows in Branson, Missouri in Branson recently. They cover “Someone That I Used to Know.”
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk