This whole discussion is pretty much a spoiler if you haven't watched the finale – forewarned is forearmed…
Last night, Donald Trump selected Joan Rivers as the second celebrity apprentice. I have spent a lot of time thinking about that. I was rooting for Joan from early on (she and Jesse were my people), but I just didn't see how she was going to take down Annie Duke in the finals.
Essentially, The Celebrity Apprentice is about making money for charity. Thus, it seems to me – as it did to Annie Duke – that the most important criteria is the ability to raise cash. Trump certainly fired at least one candidate this season based on their money-raising ability, so he certainly believed cash had something to do with it.
In the final task, Annie Duke raised over $465,000. That's a sizable chunk of change, and more than triple Joan's haul of about $150,000. There were, however, five different criteria on the final task, and Joan managed to win three of the five. So, there was a slight edge to Joan there, but the money difference was staggering, completely staggering.
Even so, Trump went with Joan as his choice, and while I'm pleased by it, I'm troubled too. What led to that decision? How could it have been possible?
Someone pointed out to me that one of the vice chairs of Joan's charity, God's Love We Deliver, is an individual named Blaine Trump. Blaine is married to Donald's younger brother. The suggestion when I heard that was that Trump was biased in the selection of Joan in order to promote a family-affiliated charity.
However, I'm in no way suggesting that's the case. Both charities (Annie's was Refugee International) got a lot of money from the show and a lot of good publicity. I just don't think it was necessary to throw a little bit more money their way by having Joan win. No, I think instead, Joan won because she was a great motivator, a decent human being, and someone who didn't alienate all their co-workers.
Last year, Piers Morgan managed to pull off a victory even though he was closer to Annie in style than Joan. I think that the difference is that Piers actually seemed to earn the respect of many of those he was competing with and against. Annie failed to do that. Everyone on Joan's team – even Clint Black – ended up liking Joan; the same wasn't true for Annie. People hated her by the end of the night; the one person on her team who liked her was Brande Roderick, but she showed such questionable judgment in so many other areas, that her liking Annie has to be discounted as well.
Annie may have had the ability to raise cash initially, but her attitude seemed to make continued donations unsustainable. Joan raised some money, but also put a better foot forward, continually highlighting her charity instead of herself. After watching the show I would rather donate to Joan's charity than Annie's – I'm not saying Joan's does better work, just that her charity seems more appealing in how she discusses it than how Annie discusses hers.
The initial influx of cash Annie was able to get is a hard thing to overlook in selecting Joan as the winner, but I don't think it's impossible. I think that good cases can be made for both candidates, and that in the end, the right one and the nice one won out, and I'm happy with that as the conclusion to the season.