More importantly though, the finale was back in Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center (home to "Saturday Night Live"), a place it hadn't been since the finale of the first season. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't sitting in the studio audience this time around like I was for the first finale.
After the introduction to the live finale, the show did the necessary recap of the season as a whole and the final task thus far. Watching it all, I decided to stick with Piers as my candidate. I think he did a far better job throughout the season. That doesn't necessarily translate to a victory, but it certainly ought to.
Eventually, the show actually got back to the task itself and found Piers dialing for dollars, hitting the likes of Sharon Osbourne and Andrew Lloyd Webber to donate items for the auction. Trace's night didn't start off as well, with him still dealing with Backstreet Boys' demands, including black fingernail polish (it would be a theme throughout the night that was cute right up until it got a little old particularly as there was no way the Boys weren't going to go on). On the other hand, Trace's country music folks had landed and were on their way to the auction while Baldwin was nowhere near selling all of Piers' tickets.
After another commercial break, and a flubbed intro back to the task by The Donald, we got to see Trace start to lose his cool. He was all anxious and unhappy about the way the setup for the event was going, and then his daughters showed up. Trace relaxed and, presumably, refocused on his work with a cooler head. We didn't get to see that though, instead we were off to Piers talking to the caterers. He patiently explained that he wanted people drinking lots and lots of alcohol and eating less food, "loaded celebrities means lots of money" was his mantra. That's my kind of guy.
The event itself seemed to go swimmingly, and the liquor certainly seemed to be flowing. Plus, Trace's country buds not only brought good times and humor with them, they came with checks ... and cash. Literally. One gentleman brought $5,000 in cash and handed it directly to Trace. It was all kind of like Connie's wedding in "The Godfather."
The auction itself went very well, with Piers' tea with the Duchess of York going for $100,000. That's right, a 100,000 smackeroos for some tea and scones and Sarah Ferguson. Dinner with Trace didn't do as well, he went for a mere six grand and Ivanka was the one who bought him (isn't that cheating). Then, the same gentleman who bid $100,000 for Sarah Ferguson also threw down a 100 grand for Ozzie Osborne and wife.
Smell a ringer? Yeah, me too. It was probably a different ringer than Simon Cowell though who Piers had call and bid for the shopping spree with Ivanka. The spree also went for 100,000 bucks, but I just don't think Simon dropped $300,000 at the event.
In the boardroom -- but not the live one -- it was the usual banter. Lennox picked Trace's management style as better than Piers', but to me that doesn't translate to Lennox picking Trace as the person who should win. Carol clearly voted for Piers to win, and brought up the money factor. He made $376,000 in the auction to Trace's $64,000. Yet, Piers only raised $12,000 versus Trace's $38,000 in ticket sales. Me? I think, as Piers suggested, those numbers just ought to be added up. Piers made nearly $400,000 to Trace just breaking $100,000. You tell me who raised more cash.
Just as things started to get a little ugly, with Trace perceiving some sort of slight against his donors and Piers taking umbrage at the notion that he slighted Trace's guests, the show cut to commercial. When the show came back, the fight fizzled to a lot of nothing and Trump moved on, complaining that he didn't get enough food at the auction. After Piers' strategy was explained and Trump questioned it, Stephen piled on that Piers had done the wrong thing with his "loaded celebrities" strategy. Piers went after his teammate and Piers' attitude issues again came to the fore.
Things kept going downhill for Piers until he asked what the point of the game was, he felt it was to raise the most money. Trace argued that it was to represent one's charity as best as they could. Trace's argument wasn't a bad one, but I'm sticking with Piers' argument that the point was to make money and not to make friends.
Eventually, the show went live for real and all the celebrities were introduced. Well, all but two. Gene Simmons was in Japan shooting a movie (was this previously scheduled, is this why he got himself fired?) and Omarosa was being held back for a special introduction.
Yes, the Evil Queen got to come on separately tonight, and she appeared complete with a clip reel of her obnoxious insanity towards Piers. I can't think of a person less deserving of a special intro than Omarosa. She doesn't even deserve a special exit, she deserves to just be left alone in the dark somewhere to be completely forgotten about for all time.
We all knew who Omarosa was going to vote for, and it wasn't a big surprise that most of the other celebrities liked Trace better too. Piers didn't play for friendship, he played to help his charity get money. When Gene Simmons did finally make an appearance -- after again supporting his Kodak slogan -- he said pretty much what everyone else said, Piers raised more money but Trace was a better guy. When pressed, Gene went with Trace. He wasn't wrong with the Kodak task, but he was wrong tonight.
Filler time came next, and after a brief video about Trace's daughter's food allergy (which was touching, but not relevant for picking a winner), Trace sang his latest single. Piers then got his turn with a video about his charity and he then introduced of several members of the Armed Forces who have benefited from the charity he has been playing for.
With the fluff over, it came time for Trump to make a decision. Trace argued that he ought to win because his charity was less known and might not get the money it needed if he didn't win. Piers argued that he should win because he won more tasks and raised more money than anyone else. Ivanka tried to explain to Piers that if he had been a nice guy the decision would have been an easy one. Piers didn't really care what she had to say, he did a better job and knew it. Don Junior argued that Piers' success was all due to his rolodex and nothing else, pretty much saying that if Trace's rolodex was as deep as Piers', the country star would have raised just as much cash. While some of that argument is accurate, Piers won the even non-rolodex based tasks, so Junior's argument didn't fully work.
But, as time was running out, Piers didn't get to answer Junior's charges. Instead, Senior jumped in. He explained that Piers had "beat the hell out of everybody" and while Trace was a nice guy, Piers was the Celebrity Apprentice.
What, did you doubt me? I told you that weeks ago, didn't I? Come on now, your friendly neighborhood recapper knows all.
So, in the end, not only did we get the right result tonight, but the episode was actually fun to watch. Well, the first hour was fun, the second hour ought to probably have been condensed to about 30 minutes without losing anything. And, I don't just mean that we could have lost all the commercials (though I wouldn't have minded that). The outcome, based on numbers (wins and cash) alone, was a foregone conclusion, drawing it out wasn't necessary. I like Trace, I'd probably rather spend more time with Trace than Piers, but nice guys don't get to win just because they're nice.