The Celebrity Apprentice renewed itself this season, literally: The show will return again, thanks in no small part to the fact that its ratings are up after slumping severely during its all-star season in 2013. And it should return.
The seventh season ended with a two-hour live finale and Leeza Gibbons’ defeat of Geraldo Rivera, which earned her charity $250,000. In a non-sequitor, Trump used his final speech to angle for Leeza to get a job at NBC’s The Today Show. “Leeza, you lead with kindness. I don’t see these people in New York. I see brutal, brutal killers,” he said. “I don’t meet people like you. Maybe you’ll be with our friends over at The Today Show one of these days–I think you’d do so well.”
Leeza’s win was quite satisfying. While there are no actual criteria for winning, other than having Trump choose you, Leeza did better by all objective measures. She raised more than twice as much money as Geraldo did ($324,000 to $146,000) and created the better advertisement for Universal Orlando. She also proved to be a better leader–and not just because she’s not a dick, but that too. (For more on how this all played out, I recapped the finale for HitFix.)
Although Trump acknowledged his “Fox News friends” at the live finale, he did not choose Geraldo, crushing the conspiracy theorists’ dreams. But at least Geraldo left an impression: “I’ve showed that an old guy can still get it up,” Geraldo said.
Celebrity Apprentice renewed
During the unnecessarily live two-hour finale, Trump announced that NBC renewed Celebrity Apprentice for an eighth season, making the 15th season overall of The Apprentice. He also said that he’d take his time with it, so perhaps there’s another two-year gap ahead.
Also during her finale, as Leeza presented her team’s project, she addressed Donald Trump and said, “I really want to thank you for giving me a platform. This is so meaningful for a non-profit like ours.”
This is a good enough reason alone why the show should come back, and it also serves as a primary antidote to those who find Donald Trump to be poison. Celebrity Apprentice is a massive platform for charities, especially those that aren’t well-known; I certainly didn’t know of Leeza’s Care Connection before the show, nor did I know of Geraldo Rivera’s charity, Life’s WORC. For all of Geraldo’s nonsense, he is clearly deeply invested in his charity’s work, as is Leeza, who talked repeatedly about fulfilling a promise she made to her mother.
Yeah, there’s some kissing up to a thick-headed gasbag involved in the show, and sure, Trump makes money on it, but the net result is positive–and I’m not just referring to charities earning money. Because there is more to it than just that.
Consider these elements of the weird animal that is The Celebrity Apprentice:
- Celebrities show their true selves when they’re faced with exhausting, business-like challenges, and this entertains us.
- Charities get money and a high-profile platform to raise both attention and possibly more money.
- It’s exceptionally well-produced and edited, like other Mark Burnett shows.
- Celebrities use the show’s platform to advance their careers, and this benefits them and potentially the public–and also entertains us when they do it in interesting ways.
- Brands pay to advertise themselves (and also pay money to the winner’s charity), but their biggest expense is the risk having their products humiliated or embarrassed by the celebrities.
- The show’s host and public face decides which charity gets $250,000 but is otherwise irrelevant. (See also: How to watch and enjoy The Apprentice even though Donald Trump is an ass.) Even when he does and says stupid things, which happens a lot, he brings attention to the show, which helps #1, 2, 3, and 4.
This season had a major problems, including its weak boardrooms, and the finale was far from the strongest episode, but most of that falls under #6. There were great personality clashes and entertaining moments, and many charities benefitted from the show, as Leeza eloquently put it.
If NBC and Mark Burnett Productions won’t replace Trump, and they probably won’t, the least they can do is really focus on the first item above (better challenges, with more time devoted to them on screen) and decrease the amount of #6. The boardrooms were interesting when candidates were fighting for a real job; now they’re the opposite.
I’m certainly ready for more of #1, 2, 3, 4 and even 5, so bring on another round of Celebrity Apprentice.