John Rich wins 'The Celebrity Apprentice' defeating Marlee Matlin
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/23/2011
John Rich was crowned The Celebrity Apprentice's fourth-season winner during Sunday night's live finale broadcast on NBC.
The country singer and former Nashville Star and Gone Country judge defeated actress Marlee Matlin and earned $250,000 for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, the charity for which he was competing.
"I did not come here to hit a homerun. I came here to hit a grand slam for St. Jude's and I want that $250,000 to take back to Memphis, and I want it really bad," John said before The Celebrity Apprentice star Donald Trump declared him the winner.
"John, from the beginning, you've been a leader, you've been strong, you've been smart, you've been sharp. I just can't ask for anything more. I'm going to do something a little different tonight. The winner of The Celebrity Apprentice 2011 is John Rich. Great job. Great job," Trump revealed after John made his plea.
The Celebrity Apprentice's fourth-season finale began where last week's penultimate episode left off, with John and Marlee working on their final task -- creating a retro campaign for the 7UP brand, including commercials, ads, an original can design, and a planned public event.
John built his presentation around the 1980's with the help of the band Def Leppard, while Marlee focused on the 1970's and featured the Harlem Globetrotters in her campaign. Both celebrities were given $50,000 to get started with their teams.
While both project managers had to deal with their share of small problems, both Marlee and John -- who worked with talk show host Star Jones, former Extra! co-host and Don't Forget the Lyrics! host Mark McGrath, and rapper Lil Jon -- executed their campaigns professionally and efficiently.
Marlee's team members -- singer LaToya Jackson, original Survivor champion Richard Hatch, and rock star Meat Loaf -- initially questioned Marlee's leadership and expressed doubts about her potential to win the competition. LaToya said Marlee didn't do a very good job of delegating tasks to her team and if she didn't step up to the plate, John would definitely win. Richard also was annoyed that it took Marlee too much time to take control.
"Finally, Marlee is stepping up and trying to be project manager," Richard said.
The 7UP launch event then commenced, as Trump arrived with the 7UP executives, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Marlee's slogan was "feel the love" and her team eventually came around when they had discovered the event was successfully playing out before their eyes. They said they were extremely impressed with her and thought she couldn't have done any better.
"It's so important to me to be able to have the opportunity to hand over a check for a quarter of a million dollars and say, 'Look, I worked my butt off for you, but it was worth every single second.' John Rich, watch out. Don't ever underestimate me. I am The Celebrity Apprentice," Marlee said after her presentation was through.
Afterward, Trump and the executives arrived at John's campaign, but they were not greeted at the door like they were at Marlee's event. They found that to be a problem.
John then announced Def Leppard would be performing onstage, only to later find out he was running 20 minutes early and did not communicate the time change to the group. When the band failed to appear in front of the audience ontime, John thought quickly on his feet and decided to get the crowd going in preparation for the band. He put matters into his own hands and opened up for Def Leppard by performing an original comedic song, and the audience seemed very receptive of his attempt to entertain.
Although John worried about the problem he had encountered, he still felt he did all he could.
"I know that I could not have done more for my charity tonight, and I just have to hope that Mr. Trump and the executives say, 'John Rich, you did a great job. You did the best job. You win,'" John said following his presentation.
Trump then met with the 7UP executives, who were very impressed with both John and Marlee.
"They both exceeded our expectations... I'd hire both of them. I think Marlee is an unbelievable salesperson and John is a fabulous, fabulous martyr," an executive told Trump.
The 7UP representatives explained they thought the "feel the love" slogan integrated so well with Marlee's charity, while John's displays were fantastic. They noted, however, it was a disappointment to not be greeted at the door by John when Marlee was very adamant about welcoming them and making them feel comfortable.
The executives also told Trump that John's slip-up in terms of his poor time management with the entertainment was a big mistake, but they said Marlee's team also did not have the level of signage at the event hall they were looking for. Despite the minor issues, the executives claimed both their cans were excellent and their commercials were compelling and extremely well done.
The Celebrity Apprentice's final pre-taped boardroom session then commenced, and Trump was flanked by Ivanka and Donald Jr.
Marlee and John both believed their teams had won, and they were so confident in their presentations and performances.
Ivanka told Marlee her execution of the event was "seamless," but John was asked why Def Leppard was late. John said he could not put any blame on the band, but he admitted he was "rattled" because he was given a sizeable donation for his charity right before the mishap occurred.
John noted he rose $275,000 for his charity during the 7UP event, which Trump saw as a big plus even though it was not supposed to be a fundraiser. Ivanka chimed in and suggested it showed John always went above and beyond the norm even when it wasn't necessary.
Marlee then fired back and said if the event's purpose was to raise money for her charity, she would have doubled the income John had received. She also told Trump not to give John a leg up on her in the competition since his extra profit for his charity was irrelevant to their task at hand.
While in the boardroom, Richard claimed Marlee had a great amount of heart and cared deeply for her charity, The Starkey Hearing Foundation, although John was known for how passionate he was about his charity.
Marlee and John were then introduced during the live portion of Sunday night's The Celebrity Apprentice finale broadcast, and Marlee was the first celebrity to explain why she thought she deserved to win the competition and be named The Celebrity Apprentice.
"Mr. Trump, you should pick me as The Celebrity Apprentice because The Starkey Hearing Foundation is my life. I am a living example of what they can do. When I was a little girl, people said I couldn't be an actress even though I wanted to go to Hollywood. That was fine. When I won my Academy Award for best actress when I was 21-years-old, the next day, someone said, 'She won out of pity and she will never work again,' Marlee expressed.
"Those barriers always have come in my life and I've beat them down. Mr. Trump, with all do respect, we have something in common, and it's that we never take no for an answer. Never. I refuse to back down. I never take no and the whole time during this entire season, I worked my butt off and I did whatever it took. I sold pizza, I raised money for Star... I sold steaks. I did it, and I raised more money in one day than anyone has ever raised. And if [John] can raise $250,000, I can do it too."
It was then John's turn to attempt to convince Trump why he should be crowned the champion over Marlee.
"St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital literally saves the lives of kids -- thousands of kids -- and I look at The Celebrity Apprentice this season as a body of work, and I can tell you right now at this table, there was not one thing I did not exhaust this entire season," John explained.
"I also raised more than a million dollars... We went all the way down the line -- even the camping world jingle -- we won. We had to write a children's book, wrote the children's book, and we won. I feel like my body of work is superior to her body of work in this season of The Celebrity Apprentice.
Marlee said John didn't see what she could do throughout the season because they weren't on the same team, but then John said he was project manager more than anyone during the season.
Afterward, Ivanka said she thought they never had a closer The Celebrity Apprentice finale. Donald Trump Jr. also said it was nearly an impossible decision and both contestants were equally deserving of the grand prize.
Trump declared that there would be no loser in the competition, because he believed both Marlee and John were exceptional leaders and human beings. He then asked Marlee if she had anything else to say.
"For the millions of deaf children out there in the world, as Celebrity Apprentice, I want to make sure that even though they live in a world of silence, silence is the last thing they will ever hear when I am The Celebrity Apprentice," Marlee said.
John Rich then further explained how badly he wanted to win, and Trump came to a decision.
"Over the years I've had some tough decisions. I think this is going to go down as my toughest one. I've never had to go through something like this where they are so, so outstanding," Trump told the live audience in response to his final two contestants' pleas.
"Marlee, you've raised more money than anyone in a single night -- over a million dollars -- the job you've done is just absolutely incredible and the people love you. You see it tonight, and you see it all over the city. I just want to congratulate you. Really amazing job," Trump told Marlee.
After addressing John, Trump then revealed the country star as The Celebrity Apprentice's fourth-season champion.
(Photo credit NBC)
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