Did Martha “change the winner right before the live” finale?

Two days after the finale of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, Page Six coughed up some alleged news: “A 6-year-old girl’s candid outburst forced producers … to change the winner right before the live NBC broadcast of the season finale.” Specifically, one of the other candidates told Page Six,

“Jennifer Koppelman Hutt [Charles’ daughter, who works with Alexis] and her little girl were making small talk with the cast before the show. Someone asked the little girl, ‘So, who do you think is going to win?’ The little girl confidently replied, ‘Bethenny is going to win, Martha didn’t like Dawna’s fashion show.’ … As far as we knew, Bethenny was the winner. But when they returned to live broadcast, the mood had definitely shifted. That’s when all three judges voted for [Stone.]”

Page Six claims that “producers then changed the script, which originally called for Frankel to be declared the winner.” Even better, a producer then told the live studio audience exactly that: “We have last-minutes changes in the script. We want to keep the suspense up to the very last minute.”

As nicely as this fits into the fun little “reality TV is all fake” box, and while it could be true, the report makes very little sense. For one, if that’s what the girl said, it hardly sounds like she spoiled the whole show; did someone really believe she had insider information? Second, would it have mattered if the contestants and the entire in-studio actually knew the outcome? The home audience was what mattered–and besides, It’s not as if the finale had any consequence, considering Martha’s contempt for the whole process. Third, even though Bethenny’s event did run a little more smoothly, she acted like an asshat throughout most of the show, and Dawna was the only real choice because she was both unoffensive and talented, so it’s unlikely at best that Martha would have been ready to hire Bethenney. Fourth, the pre-prepared “job” segment showed that Dawna, a magazine publisher, would be working for one of Martha’s magazines, hardly a job that would have suited Bethenny; had Bethenny won, she likely would have received a food-related position, and it’s not like producers went out and shot a whole new job segment minutes before the show aired.

Fifth, would a producer really tell the audience that they changed the script? Please. And finally, this alleged contestant said that the “judges voted,” which is not what happens on The Apprentice, nor did it happen on Martha’s finale; Alexis and Charles gave their opinions, which were split between the two women, and then Martha chose Dawna.

The only evidence that supports all of this awkward-sounding gossip is Martha’s awkward-sounding revelation of the winner; she unenthusiastically read Dawna’s name off a card in front of her. Then again, basically everything Martha said all season came out awkwardly, even the dialogue that was dubbed in.

Martha Winner in Late Switch [New York Post]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.