Celebrity Apprentice." United in cause and spirit, with a common goal to earn huge money and raise awareness for their designated charities, Hall and Aiken were amiable, friendly competitors, in the upbeat and entertaining 2-hour program.In the battle between two smart, talented and classy gentlemen, laughter trumps music as Arsenio Hall steals the spotlight away from Clay Aiken in the season finale of "
A Killer Monologue
As their last project for the competition, "Team Arsenio" and "Team Clay" were assigned to create a Public Service Announcement for their charities, along with a fund-raising gala event. It was tough to determine a true winner for this one, because both teams excelled in different areas.
"Team Arsenio" killed with a very funny PSA for the Magic Johnson Foundation, which featured Arsenio Hall, Lisa Lampanelli and Paul Teutul Sr. dressed in wild, retro 80s wigs and ensembles. They also nailed it when Lampanelli hired a look-a-like drag queen, wearing one of her dresses, to hand over a $10,000 check…for Clay's team! That was not only a surprising and classy move, but it was amusing when Adam Carolla called it a "Claytribution." (cute!)
The biggest laughs came from late-night legend, Arsenio Hall, who joked that the party kicks off on "Colored people time…it starts at 7:00? See you at 9:30!" He also got in another amusing one-liner, when, while collecting checks from celebrities, including two from Jay Leno, Hall quipped "(Leno) writes a bunch of checks and gives it to white people he doesn't even know."
Strong Headlining Act
"Team Clay" delivered a sweet, but bland PSA for Aiken's beloved charity, the National Inclusion Project. Their shining moment, however, came from the extraordinary work and creativity of their carnival-themed presentation, which was filled with games, a dazzling and colorful wall mural and plenty of fun for all the guests.
Their musical showcase featured Aubrey O'Day in an over-the-top, vocally dreadful display of narcissistic indulgence, a Dee Snider and Deborah Gibson duet, which was, well, "interesting," but energetic, a Penn and Teller magic show, and Clay Aiken taking the stage to do what he does so well, sing and entertain. Sadly, the song was ruined when Ms. O'Day pranced back to the microphone, sporting an enormous amount of red hair and curls, which thankfully, took the focus off her "singing."
Dealing with the "Hecklers"
One of the disappointing moments of the "Celebrity Apprentice" finale was to hear the snide comments of several returning cast members. During the live portion of the program, things got nasty, especially from the woman we can always count on to be the bitter pill, Aubrey O'Day. She was still spewing forth her own special brand of venom, as was the normally classy and refined Dayana Mendoza, who couldn't resist getting her claws into Lampanelli one more time, and Tia Carrerre got the audience worked up by getting them to shout out the names of the "problem women" on the show. It was petty and unprofessional, and it made them look desperate for attention. (Desperate for attention??? On a reality show??? Never!)
One-two-three punch line and a triumphant comeback
Just before the winner was announced, there was a live performance of "Lean on Me," featuring Clay Aiken, Arsenio Hall and a gospel-style choir. The easy, natural chemistry and friendship of the two finalists made for a very pleasant, enjoyable program.
But which one was destined to win the show? In the final minutes, Dee Snider said of Clay Aiken "He's creative…a force to be reckoned with," and Deborah Gibson said "He killed it in the presentation." Absolutely agreed - Aiken proved that he is a strong, assertive, immensely gifted person, with a great heart. He was tough when he needed to be, and gracious and easy-going the rest of the time. But this prize was not to be for the former "American Idol" runner-up - it was Arsenio's big comeback, all the way.
In his closing remarks to Mr. Trump, Arsenio Hall gave a heart-felt, emotional speech of why he should win "Celebrity Apprentice," saying "I have lived the life of the Apprentice, I just need the title now."
And so you have it, Mr. Hall, and it was a most-deserving, although rather surprising victory, for you. Congratulations and welcome back, Mr. Late-Night Legend!