Bret Michaels named Celebrity Apprentice but both Bret and Holly’s charities get $250K

Bret Michaels became the third Celebrity Apprentice, but Donald Trump came as close as he’s ever come to declaring two winners by giving both Bret and Holly’s charities $250,000, thus making Bret’s win about the title alone. While Trump gave no actual reason for selecting Bret, the Poison lead singer turned reality star certainly deserved the win, too; as he proved during the final task and previously, “I’m a problem solver: a rock ‘n’ MacGyver,” he said.

Bret’s win was predicted by cynical and/or emotional viewers who suggested it’d be impossible for Trump to give Holly the win weeks after Bret almost died. When Bret came out during the live finale, Holly teared up and said, “who in America isn’t” crying, and told Trump that her five-year-old said, “‘Mom, I love you, but I’m kinda pulling for Bret.’ How do you beat that?” Joan Rivers, whose face looked particularly awful, said this more directly: “business-wise, it should be Holly, but screw that, it’s Bret. Emotionally, it’s Bret.” And if anyone should know about being the emotional, irrational winner, it’s Joan Rivers.

Although I still like the celebrity format, particularly the tasks and the way they expose celebrities for who they really are, I am completely over Donald Trump’s questions and rationale, neither of which are rational at all. But kind of oddly, he gave no final rationale for why Bret won; Trump just declared him the winner.

Earlier, after saying, “you both deserve to win, both of your charities deserve to win” and announcing Snapple matched the $250,000 prize, Trump said Bret is “imaginative,” “very brave,” and “a little flaky, but that’s okay,” while Holly, of course, “won more money than anyone has ever won on The Apprentice or The Celebrity Apprentice” and “we all love you.” In the non-live boardroom, he called their brochure and Snapple bottle labels “a draw” and pretty much did nothing else except harass Summer when she didn’t hurl herself onto a sword for Bret.

Asked to make their final arguments during the end of a very padded second hour, and Holly basically tried to argue that her charity was more deserving because autism affects more people than those with “diabetes, cancer, and AIDS combined,” and also reminded everyone that unlike Bret, “I never left” to do a concert or whatever. She also said, “I’m really not as mean as I seemed on the show at all.” Bret argued that he may have been a slacker who was late early in the season, but that was because “I put everything in every time.”

The odd part of that was that neither really mentioned their strengths: Bret’s creativity and Holly’s organization and fundraising. And what of their commercials? Bret’s was okay, though Holly’s was pretty bad. But what am I doing, acting like this was a real job interview?

The live finale itself was mostly dry, and like another show that ended last night at the same time, had some unanswered questions (Where were Sharon Osbourne and Bill Goldberg?). The audience’s laughter occasionally was audible during the episode, which I dislike because it just pops up out of nowhere, although at least that audience isn’t as annoying as American Idol‘s. The live audience did laugh at Rod Blagojevich when he started babbling about being innocent against “powerful forces,” like Smokey. Trump asked for “a show of hands: Who thinks Rod is guilty? I’m being serious,” and Michael Johnson raised his hand.

Trump promised that “all your favorite celebrities will join us live,” but as it turns out, it was only the cast from this season. Trump fired Maria Kanellis for pointing out that Curtis Stone “took a crap and left the stench in the room” during a task, saying that what she said was “like, disgusting,” but then replayed the clip during the finale. But all was forgiven, including whatever it is Cyndi Lauper sang, only because she rolled around on the boardroom table, an amazing moment to cap off a pretty great season.

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.