Apprentice films Trump hiring and firing each finalist in case NBC opts to not air live finale

The awkward and anti-climactic finale for The Apprentice last night may have been that way for a reason: The show filmed Trump hiring both Brandy Kuentzel and Cliff Robertson, so they’d have footage to use in the event that NBC didn’t order a live finale.

I learned of this from someone close to an The Apprentice staffer who said it’s a regular occurrence: the series always films Donald Trump hiring and firing each of the finalists, which they can then use for the finale if NBC opts to not air a live, extended finale like they did this season thanks to low ratings. (Those ratings likely mean that while the celebrity version is coming back, the regular version might not return, though there’s a petition to save the regular version.)

Having to film two endings, which is kind of amazing for a competitive reality TV show, would certainly explain the subdued reaction from both Brandy and Clint–she smiled, he frowned–and Trump’s near-grumpiness. That would also mean that neither Brandy or Clint would have known they won until last night, or perhaps until they were contacted by producers in advance o the finale, after Trump decided which way he wanted to go.

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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.