The Celebrity Apprentice
The New York Post reported Trump got a raise from NBC, bringing his and producer Mark Burnett's earnings to a staggering $160 million. Trump would reportedly pocket $65 million a year.
However, NBC is firing back at the report.
"The financial information reported today in regards to 'The Celebrity Apprentice' is grossly inaccurate and has been significantly overstated," the network said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "While it is our policy to keep financial information strictly confidential, neither the production costs of the show nor what Mr. Trump makes personally is in the realm of reality. Donald Trump and 'The Apprentice' franchise remain a key part of the NBC primetime lineup and we are looking forward to another compelling cycle next season."
In other TV news ...
It's been at least a month since La Toya Jackson became the only contestant on the 'Celebrity Apprentice' to be fired, re-hired and then promptly re-fired. Anxious to return to the spotlight, Jackson sat down with Matt Lauer Monday on 'Today' (7 AM ET, weekdays on NBC) for a bizarre interview filled with confusing statements and contradictions that gave off more smoke than fire.
Jackson was there to talk about her recent book 'Starting Over,' in which she claims to investigate Michael's death and identify his true killer. In the book, she posits that Michael's death was a conspiracy and that Dr. Conrad Murray is merely a fall guy. But when Matt Lauer pressed her on why the book doesn't name anyone or offer any evidence about that, Jackson could only respond with a hollow, "If you read the book you'll understand."
It's been a roller-coaster ride of a season, full of twists, turns and tons of freak-outs. But it all came to an end last night, with Donald Trump crowning this year's 'Celebrity Apprentice' on the season finale.
The competition started with 16 stars, and Trump knocked them off one by one until it there were just two: John Rich and Marlee Matlin. It was a showdown that pitted the country star against the movie star, ending a record-breaking season that raised more than $3 million for charity.
But there can only be one ... Celebrity Apprentice.
Except, The Donald decided to do something a little differently this time around. Rather than fire one of them, he simply declared a winner. Was this a statement as to how much he respected the person who came in second, or just him trying something new?
Of Matlin, Trump said: "You've raised more money than anybody in a single night, over a million dollars. The job you've done is just absolutely incredible." Of Rich, he said, "From the beginning you've been a leader. You've been strong. You've been smart. You've been sharp. I just can't ask for anything more."
First, there's 'The Celebrity Apprentice,' which is steaming towards its live finale (Sunday, May 22, 9PM ET on NBC), with John Rich and Marlee Matlin facing off for the right to be "hired" by Donald Trump. The show has been renewed for a fifth celebrity season; Trump also recently decided not to run for President, but not without leaving months of new material for late night talk shows in his wake.
Then there's 'The Voice,' which is gaining momentum after a strong start, with the combination of talented singers and red hot judges (Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton) keeping people tuning in.
But when we spoke, we started with his most venerable show, 'Survivor,' which just ended its 22nd season on Sunday. We talked about the decision to bring back 'Redemption Island' for season 23, then moved on to a question that seemed like it would be innocent. His reaction was anything but ...
According to Matlin, she reminded herself that the game was for charity and tried to keep personal feelings out of it. "I said to myself, 'Keep your cool, play the game and it's all for charity at the end of the day. And there's nothing personal. It's all business,'" she said.
If Donald Trump does throw decide his hat into the ring as an official 2012 Presidential candidate, he'll lose his place at the 'Apprentice' boardroom table. NBC President Bob Greenblatt has announced that the show will go on without Trump at the helm.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Greenblatt said that, although the network hopes to have Trump back for the next season, "If he decides to run and is unavailable to do the show, we will bring the show back and someone else will be sitting at the head of the board table."
However, Greenblatt wouldn't be drawn on who Trump's replacement could be. (Gary Busey, anyone?) "Who that is, we're not going to really entertain, because I'm still hoping we'll have Donald back in the seat."
After three stars went home last week, it was down to the final four on 'The Celebrity Apprentice' -- and it was another jam-packed episode as two more hopefuls were sent packing just shy of the finale.
With John Rich, Marlee Matlin, Meat Loaf and Lil Jon still standing at the beginning of the episode, Donald Trump brought in past winners Bret Michaels, Joan Rivers and Piers Morgan to help him weed out the final two with an intensive interview process.
Joan Rivers, Piers Morgan and Bret Michaels assisted by interviewing the final four and served as advisors to Trump in his biggest decision yet. In fact, he did the firings before the challenge, based almost entirely on their tips.
A key moment for one of this week's eliminated contestants in the interviews came when asked about who would make it into the finale.
"My three winners hated your answer when they asked you who should be in the finals and you didn't say yourself," Trump told this person before firing them. Who didn't believe in themself?
According to Leakes, she and Jones had started forming a relationship outside of the show. But, she saw a very different side of Jones once cameras began to roll. "I felt like we were establishing a relationship outside of 'Celebrity Apprentice,'" said Leakes. "And then, when we got on the show and I saw how backstabbing she was, it was very disappointing to me."
"Everything will ultimately work out for NeNe," said a friend of 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' star. "In the long run she was much better off to quit and walk away than get a job with Donald Trump."
It should be noted that each celebrity is playing to raise money for their charity rather than get a job within Trump's organization. It should also be noted that the 'Celebrity Apprentice' we're seeing on Sundays was taped months ago, before The Donald's now-floundering bid for the White House and string of attacks on President Obama that many believe reek of racism.
"The final straw for me was when Mr. Trump decided to switch me, take me out of my comfort zone to accommodate Star. I felt he was disrespecting me," said Leakes.
"All of us are disappointed in you," said Williams. "Like, why did you quit? And I don't want to hear there's stuff going on in your personal life. We all have crap going on in our personal lives. You needed to have ridden that show out."
"I was thinking, 'I need to keep calm.' Because, not for nothing Ellen, but when you're confronted in the wild with an uncaged animal, you're supposed to retreat," Jones said.
It's not like other competition shows, where a panel of judges have to come to some sort of consensus, or a voting show where the person who gets the fewest phoned-in, online and text votes goes home. No, the sorta-kinda-almost 2012 presidential candidate is the lone arbiter of whom gets fired, and he has often used weird rationales to fire someone who didn't necessarily deserve it, especially on the celebrity edition of the show (just ask Khloe Kardashian).
Trump used one of those rationales last night to fire La Toya Jackson. It was almost predictable. Even though Star Jones fumbled badly as the losing team's leader in last night's task, there was no way in hell she was ever going home. Why? Because Trump knows a good player when he sees one.
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