Piers Morgan defeats Trace Adkins, wins 'The Celebrity Apprentice'
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/28/2008
Piers Morgan certainly lacked tact but made up for it by dominating all other aspects of The Celebrity Apprentice, and the America's Got Talent judge and former British newspaper editor was revealed to be the show's winner during last night's live finale broadcast of the NBC reality series.
Piers defeated country star Trace Adkins to claim The Celebrity Apprentice title, and Donald Trump donated an extra $250,000 to Piers' charity -- the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund -- an amount that will be added to the already large sum of money he was able to raise throughout the competition.
"If this was a good guy competition to find America's most likeable man, [Trace] would win immediately," said Piers before The Donald revealed his decision.
"But it is a business competition with a premium on raising money for charity... As you know Mr. Trump, business -- in the end -- comes down to the bottom line. I've won nine out of the 11 challenges you set -- more than anybody else. I raised over half-a-million dollars -- more than every other contestant put together. I had -- in you words -- the biggest slaughter in the history of The Apprentice in one episode. I also brought in the biggest and the most celebrities. So on every single business and charity find-raising checklist, I killed everyone."
The Celebrity Apprentice's finale broadcast began with Piers and Lennox continuing to put together a charity event for the final task, with each responsible for different aspects of it. Piers' team would be responsible for catering and a live auction, while Trace's team was responsible for the event's decor and its live entertainment -- The Backstreet Boys. The teams would be judged on tickets sold, money raised and how well they ran their responsibilities.
Piers had the help of Carol Alt and Stephen Baldwin, while Trace was being assisted by Marilu Henner and Lennox Lewis.
Piers once again reached into his Rolodex and secured an auction item from Andrew Lloyd Webber and on the way to the event's venue, he apologized to Stephen -- who was so surprised the born-again Christian let out a resounding chorus of, "Hallelujah!"
With five hours until the event began, Trace met with the Backstreet Boys production manager Jason Zito and showed him the group's green room for the event. Trace admitted he was still attempting to locate wheat grass juice and was disheartened to receive a call from one of the group's members, who was requesting black nail polish. Trace hemmed and hawed about it but ultimately went and bought a bottle with Lennox.
Stephen was in charge of making sure that Piers sold tickets to the event and called his contacts with no luck, having secured only five guests with three hours until it began. Piers described Stephen's effort as an "absolute clinker."
Trace's country music buddies -- Montgomery Gentry, Ronnie Milsap and Lonestar's Dean Sams -- arrived in New York City, but Trace was still "worried" about the event as he set-up the events decor with Marilu. He then received a surprise visit from his wife and two daughters, an emotional moment that brought tears to the cowboy's eyes.
With only one hour to go, Carol put the finishing touches on the catering aspect of the event while Piers assembled the wait staff and told them he wanted the guests to drink alcohol "as fast as possible" because "loaded celebrities means lost of money" would be bid on his auction items.
The Backstreet Boys arrived for their sound check and to Trace's dismay, one of them requested a knee brace for his bum knee. Despite still being disgruntled about all the requests, Trace went out and purchased one.
The charity event then commenced, with Trace receiving donations from his country music friends and the soldiers from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund -- Piers' charity -- arriving. The Donald, Ivanka and Donald Jr. also arrived before the auction commenced.
Trace sold a Super Bowl-related package for $18,000 and Ivanka bid $6,000 and won a dinner with Trace, which he made sure to joke about with his wife. However he was no match for Piers, who had Howard Lutkin in attendance at the event. Howard is the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, a business that was located in the World Trade Center and suffered several hundred casualties during the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Since Piers' is playing for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Howard bid $100,000 each on two of Piers' big money items -- a royal tea with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and an evening with former The Osbournes star and Piers' fellow America's Got Talent judge Sharon Osbourne and her husband Ozzy.
American Idol judge Simon Cowell then phoned the event from England and bid $100,000 on a diamond shopping spree with Ivanka. Trace described all the money rolling in on Piers' behalf as "distasteful."
"I knew that at some point in the auction some heavy hitters were going to show up for Piers," opined Trace. "I knew that. I don't know those kind of people. I don't know people with that kind of money. So hey, I'm raising some money too for my charity. That's what this is all about."
While Trace was unable to get wheat grass juice, the Backstreet Boys still went on and performed, which lifted a massive burden off Trace's shoulders. The charity event came to a close with Piers, Carol, Stephen, Trace, Lennox and Marilu standing and listening to the music of the Backstreet Boys, taking in the successful event they just put together on short notice.
The Celebrity Apprentice's final pre-taped boardroom session then commenced, and Trump was flanked by Ivanka and Donald Jr.
Donald Jr. revealed Piers had made $376,000 in auction items compared to Trace's $64,000; while Ivanka informed them that Trace sold $38,000 worth of tickets while Piers sold only $12,000. Carol explained how Piers forfeited tickets that could have been sold to instead invite soldiers from his charity, which Ivanka said she thought people "really responded to."
"I wanted those people from the charity in the room and found it to be very moving," explained Piers. "But I did that with the knowledge that on the auction I was raising a huge, huge amount of money."
Trace and Piers then bickered when Trace accused Piers of belittling his donors, and Piers said he never did that and asked the country star to take back the comment.
Piers also had to answer to Trump for the lack of food at the event and explained his strategy about wanting to get the guests tipsy. Stephen said he didn't agree with that "methodology" and Piers accused him of once again "taking the high moral ground" -- a constant point of contention in their The Celebrity Apprentice relationship.
"There are two ways going into this," explained Ivanka to Piers. "You raised a lot of money and nobody can argue with you. The only argument against you seems to be the way you handle other people."
"I'd like you to clarify," Piers said to The Donald. "Everyone here wants Saint Trace to win because America likes a nice guy and I've been portrayed as a devil. I don't mind that at all... If you would just clarify what the purpose of this game was. Was it to be the nicest guy in the whole world? Or was it to be the most efficient, effective businessman throwing a charity fund-raiser? I think I know the right answer unless the rules have changed from the moment I was employed in this game."
Trace said he thought his The Celebrity Apprentice job was to honorably represent his charity -- the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. Trump asked if Trace thought Piers was dishonorably representing his charity, and Trace answered Piers has conducted himself in a "questionable manner."
"After you gave us our task, the first thing we did, we got together to determine who was going to have what responsibility," explained Trace. "I think Piers said, 'Here's what we're going to do. We're going to work together and we are going to try and make this the very best event it can possibly be.' I said, 'I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. That's what we should do.'... Throughout the whole thing, we worked together just to try to make it as good an event as it could possibly be. I commend him for that."
The live portion of The Celebrity Apprentice's finale broadcast then commenced, and The Donald introduced Trace and Piers to the studio audience. In addition, the previously eliminated celebrity participants were also brought out onto the stage, who all had various opinions on Trump's impending decision.
Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth childishly attacked Piers' dental hygiene; Lennox said he thought both Trace and Piers were "competent;" Carol continued to support Piers, which she's done throughout the latter stages of the competition; and Stephen called Piers a "tough guy" who's "good at business" but added Trace was "10-times better." Not surprisingly, Trace had resounding support from the majority of the celebrities.
Gene Simmons Family Jewels star Gene Simmon was the only celebrity unable to be in attendance at the live finale because he was in Japan "shooting a movie," but all he did was stubbornly stand by his failed Kodak slogan, "It's a Kodak world." He also said Piers "outperformed in pure cash" but overall supported Trace, who he said tugged at America's "heart."
In addition, Trump asked former The Sopranos actor and Dancing with the Stars fourth-season dropout Vincent Pastore -- who also quitThe Celebrity Apprentice after a verbal tiff with Piers -- if he wished he didn't resign.
"Yes I do wish I didn't resign," answered Vincent.
Trace explained the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is the largest charity in the U.S. dedicated to helping and advocating for the 12 million Americans with food allergy -- including his 6-year old daughter, who had a severe, life-threatening reaction to peanut butter when she was just 9-months-old.
Trace then performed his single "You're Gonna Miss This," which currently sits at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs singles chart.
Piers explained the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which has provided close to $60 million in support for the families of military personnel lost in service and for severely wounded military personnel and veterans.
With the live broadcast winding down, The Donald handed down his decision.
"Piers, you're a vicious guy. I've seen it. We can try and dispute it -- you can try and dispute it. You're tough, you're smart, you're probably brilliant. You're certainly not diplomatic. But you did an amazing job and you beat the hell out of everybody. You won by far more than anybody... Trace, you have an amazing family, beautiful children. You're a special guy -- you're a special human being, a beautiful guy. I'll always love you, but for tonight, Piers, you're the Celebrity Apprentice."
Confetti came down from the ceiling and Piers celebrated with the other celebrities and his family.
"It's been a really great season," said The Donald. "We'll see you next year, We're going to be around for a long time."
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