Martha Stewart selects Dawna Stone as her 'The Apprentice' winner
By Reality TV World staff, 12/22/2005
Last night's live finale of NBC's The Apprentice: Martha Stewart reality series ended with the domestic diva selecting Dawna Stone, a 37-year-old women's sports magazine publisher from St. Petersburg, FL, to join her Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia corporation.
Dawna defeated fellow finalist Bethenny Frankel, a 34-year-old natural foods chef from New York, NY, for the opportunity to serve as Martha's "apprentice." However unlike the winners of Donald Trump's original The Apprentice series, Dawna was not allowed to choose between two job assignments, instead Stewart declared that the magazine publisher would be assigned to a newly-created Director Of Development position for MSLO's Body + Soul magazine.
In addition to the $250,000 one-year employment contract, Dawna also received a brand-new Buick Lucerne for her victory.
Although a MSLO press release described Dawna as "a great fit for this new position," the public comments of both Martha and her daughter Alexis would indicate otherwise. Earlier this month, Martha lamented having to actually hire any of her Apprentice candidates and once again made it painfully clear that she only agreed to do the show due to the springboard she hoped it would provide to the post-prison relaunch of her "brand."
"Yeah, we're getting close to which of those inappropriate contestants we are actually going to have to hire," Martha told BusinessWeek during a recent appearance at one of the magazine's "Captains of Industry" events. Alexis was also lukewarm in her endorsement of Dawna during last night's finale, calling her "a little dispassionate and a little uncreative, but probably better suited [than Bethenny] to be your apprentice."
Martha's clear discomfort with the show's format once again also showed itself during the live finale, with Martha seemingly making her "climatic" announcement of Dawna's selection as part of a longer statement also intended to detail the MSLO position that Dawna was being offered. The awkward announcement forced the show's producers to have to literally cut Stewart off, with a celebratory snippet of the show's "Sweet Dreams" Eurythmics theme song forcing Martha to delay her Body + Soul plug until after the audience stopped their cued applause and Dawna had a chance to quickly exchange hugs and congratulations with Martha, Alexis, Charles Koppelman, and the six other contestants that participated in the finalists' final tasks.
Martha and her team also exploited the primetime show's exposure to the very end, with Martha hosting the low-budget live finale on the barely redecorated set of her syndicated Martha daytime show and Alexis going out of her way to tell viewers that they'd have to tune into her XM Satellite Radio show if they wanted to hear her full opinions about the two finalists (an especially ironic turn of events given that Alexis had previously appeared to say very little during any of the season's prior episodes.)
Although Bethenny appeared to do the better job of executing her The Apprentice: Martha Stewart final task, Martha and her team also seemed to be needlessly harsh on the self-acknowledged "rough edged" New Yorker during the finale's live portion, with Martha terming her "a showoff" who needlessly feels she needs to "make a physical impression" and Charles faulting her "behavior" of "working and playing [not so] well with others."
Like Martha, NBC also seemed to have largely lost interest in and attempt to distance itself from the highly-hyped but lowly-rated reality series as its lengthy season wore on. Although NBC had surprised most industry analysts with a November announcement that already lowly-rated The Apprentice: Martha Stewart would feature a two-hour finale that would include a reunion of the show's sixteen contestants, the network had quietly changed its mind in recent weeks, reducing the finale to a one-hour broadcast that featured very little of the non-finalists (and no sign of the eight other candidates who didn't participate in the finalists' last task assignments.)