'The Celebrity Apprentice' star Donald Trump crowns Arsenio Hall champion
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/21/2012
The Celebrity Apprentice star Donald Trump crowned Arsenio Hall the champion of the reality competition's fifth season during Sunday night's live finale broadcast on NBC.
The former talk show host defeated former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken and earned $250,000 for The Magic Johnson Foundation, the charity for which he was competing.
"Every chance I get, I always let people know how I got here. I've been taking care of my son for awhile, and I'm about to re-emerge and get a late-night talk show. The most important aspect to that statement is there are people out there like Joan Rivers and Piers Morgan -- all of their success shines a light on the banner that you gave them -- and I'll be out there too, giving it 100% percent fighting. I'm a guy that's been on the cover of Time Magazine and Rolling Stone, but not only that, I've been on the cover of The Wall Street Journal. I have lived the life of The Apprentice, I just need the title now," Arsenio said before The Celebrity Apprentice star Donald Trump declared him the winner.
"It's very important. I want to be number one. I know that we've heard about Idol many times, but when I was battling against Johnny Carson, I was number two. When I was a magician as a kid, I entered a magic contest -- which [Penn Jillette] and I talked about -- and I was number two. I need to be number one, and did I tell you when I was younger they called me 'Skinny Ruben?'"
The Celebrity Apprentice's fifth-season finale began where last week's penultimate episode left off, with Clay and Arsenio working on their final task -- creating a 30-second charity-awareness ad, producing and executing a variety show to entertain their guests and selling tickets to raise money for their charities.
For their awareness ads, Arsenio acted in an 80s skit and featured Magic Johnson himself, while Clay portrayed young children playing games. When it came time to organize their charity events, Clay put together a carnival-themed atmosphere with games, plate-spinning acts and prizes since his charity -- The National Inclusion Project -- focuses solely on children.
Meanwhile, Arsenio threw a "blue-bar party," which included simple lighting and presentation but featured a magician and comedian acts.
While both project managers had to deal with their share of small problems, both Arsenio and Clay -- who worked with Penn, a magician, comedian and former Dancing with the Stars participant; rock star and former Growing Up Twisted star Dee Snider; All About Aubrey and former Making the Band star Aubrey O'Day; and singer, actress and former Skating with Celebrities participant Debbie Gibson -- executed their ads, events and variety shows professionally and efficiently.
Arsenio's team members -- radio host and former Dancing with the Stars participant Adam Carolla, The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice, comedienne Lisa Lampanelli, and American Chopper star Paul Teutul Sr. -- worked well together overall, but Arsenio had the most trouble collaborating with Adam.
Due to the mistakes of the film crew Adam utilized for the task, they were missing footage of Magic Johnson. They had a collection of tape of Magic speaking from a profile view rather than head-on and eyes towards the camera. However, they found a small piece of all the footage that saved their ad campaign.
In addition, Adam told Arsenio it would be wise to do a roast during the variety show, but Arsenio disagreed because he wasn't about to upset the crowd who were bringing in the money. Arsenio grew a bit frustrated that Adam kept pushing his ideas.
Similarly, Clay struggled to run the show with a lot of outspoken and driven individuals on his team trying to take the wheel. Debbie insisted he let her team paint a mural for children on the white interior walls, but Clay rejected her proposal until he could actually see a sketch of what it would look like in the end.
As a result of his initial hesitation to give Debbie "the okay," Clay didn't afford the painters enough time to finish the mural and so his team of celebrities had to finish it up themselves. Clay also attempted to take credit when it was due although Aubrey was proud of all her ideas and often snagged the spotlight.
During the two finalists' events, it seemed like more people arrived at Clay's event first. Arsenio just hoped his fans and supporters were going to be fashionably late. The first "Claymate" that walked through the door of his event gave the singer $20,000 for his charity. Meanwhile, Arsenio started off the night by grabbing a couple $5,000 checks but then progressed to a steady pace in which he received $10,000 checks from actor Eddie Murphy and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
Trump, who arrived at both scenes one at a time to scope out Arsenio and Clay's work and measure the success of the events, seemed to enjoy Arsenio's stand-up comedy and Clay's uptempo musical number. Both finalists' parties appeared to run flawlessly, and the project managers were thrilled with the outcome of their hard work and leadership tactics.
The Celebrity Apprentice's final pre-taped boardroom session then commenced, and Trump was flanked by Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Jr. Trump.
Arsenio and Clay both believed their teams had won, and they were so confident in their presentations and performances. Trump then announced that Arsenio and Clay would each be judged on their show, party, charity awareness ad, how much money was raised for their charity during their event, and their overall job well done. Trump noted the finalist who brought in the most money during their event would not necessarily win the show and become the next Celebrity Apprentice.
After congratulating both project managers, Trump revealed that Arsenio collected $167,100 for The Magic Johnson Foundation, while Clay pocketed a total of $301,500 for The National Inclusion Project. Regardless of who won The Celebrity Apprentice, each finalist could give their charity the amount of money they had individually brought in for their own charities. However, the winner would receive an extra $250,000 on top of their earnings.
Trump then asked some of the previously-eliminated contestants whom they believed should take the cake, and the majority suggested Clay might edge out Arsenio for the win. Dee said Clay should win because he was "a force to reckon with and a great guy." Lisa agreed with Dee, while Debbie insisted Clay "killed it in the performance" and was also very detail-oriented in the tasks. However, Dayana Mendoza and Theresa told Trump they thought victory belonged to Arsenio despite Clay's apparent professionalism.
Arsenio and Clay were then introduced during the live portion of Sunday night's The Celebrity Apprentice finale broadcast, and before Arsenio got to make his quick speech, Clay explained why he thought he ultimately deserved to win the competition and The Celebrity Apprentice title.
"I think I came here with sort of low expectations and I think I exceeded them and raised the bar a little bit for myself. I came in with people not knowing that I could be productive and creative and a leader, and I think that I showed that I can be. And if nothing else, my mother's here and she sat through me losing one time before, and I really don't want her to have to sit through it again," Clay told Trump. "I have a feeling that the last task was a strong showing of all the different components of everything we've done. It's a really comprehensive exam and I think I really excelled at it."
After both Clay and Arsenio pled their cases as to why they deserved to be crowned the winner, Trump then revealed Arsenio as The Celebrity Apprentice's fifth-season champion.
"I've never been so torn. This is a very, very tough decision. You're both amazing people. There is no loser tonight, but the winner of Celebrity Apprentice and $250,000 for your charity in addition to all the money that you won is Arsenio Hall," Trump announced.