Trump's New Apprentice

The country's most-watched job interview came to an end last night as the second season of Donald Trump's The Apprentice wrapped up with its live finale. The winner? Why, General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) NBC of course. It was able to muster big ad bucks by stretching the show's conclusion to span the entire three-hour prime-time slot.

As far as the job applicants go, Kelly and Jen -- the last two remaining players -- had their early struggles with their final GenworthFinancial (NYSE: GNW  ) charity event challenges.

Rain threatened to ruin Kelly's polo match, but instead of calling for a tarp he rolled the dice with the weather. Carolyn noticed his lack of organization and cited how he was "robotic" in failing to motivate his team of Elizabeth, John, and Raj. Jen didn't fare much better as NBA star Chris Webber, the scheduled master of ceremonies for her charity basketball game, canceled.

The next morning at the Greenwich Polo Club, in one of Kelly's finest leadership moments, he was able to successfully mediate a silly spat between Elizabeth and Raj. But the peace didn't last as Kelly was told they couldn't paint the logo for Unilever's (NYSE: UL  ) Wisk laundry detergent on the field because the colors would frighten the horses.

Jen's power struggles took on a more literal meaning at Riverbank State Park when the 10 plasma televisions with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Xbox game systems in the player lounge shorted the electricity. But the Xbox representative was ultimately pacified when a generator was brought in to restore power. Just as powerful, Jen was able to recover from Webber's last-minute bolt by landing NBA commissioner David Stern to emcee the event.

Meanwhile, Chris, Pamela, and Stacy were delegated important tasks in managing the event. It all went smoothly till the end. That's when Pamela failed to follow Jen's instructions to make sure that Trump was invited to the VIP lounge. Instead, the game ended with neither Jen nor Pamela anywhere to be seen, and Trump had his helicopter whisk him away to watch Kelly's tournament.

Trump arrived to find that his viewing box for the charity match wasn't up to snuff, but beyond that -- and some last-minute tidying of the clubhouse before Tony Bennett arrived to perform after the match -- Kelly's event also went well.

While Kelly had been the favorite going into the event, the fact that both Kelly and Jen performed well brought into question who would be tapped as Trump's next apprentice. Trump's assistants were impressed. George praised Jen while Carolyn supported Kelly.

Yet this was obviously Trump's call to make. He met with the six fired contestants who assisted Kelly and Jen in the final task. While they each ultimately showed loyalty to their own project manager, they didn't leave without taking their shots. Pamela took Jen to task for delegating too many of the ambassadorial chores while Elizabeth faulted Kelly for not catering enough to the VIPs.

That's when Kelly and Jen came in. They were each confronted with their shortcomings. It ultimately escalated into a battle of words, with Jen saying Kelly lacked integrity while Kelly called her a liar.

Then the taped segment of the show came to an end and the show resumed live from Lincoln Center. Trump admitted that he was still unsure whom he should select so he had Regis Philbin interview former Trumplets, executives from his company, and executives from Genworth and Unilever. They unanimously sided with Kelly, and Trump ultimately sided with the majority. Kelly began his new job by choosing to oversee The Donald's massive Trump Place project on the West Side of Manhattan over a flashy Las Vegas hotel.

Rick: With Trump taking Jen to task for not tending to him at the basketball tournament, I wonder if Trump was there to see Philbin off safely out of Lincoln Center. Hey, where's Dayana?

Tim: Don't you remember, Rick? She decided to crash The Donald's party. She's at Lincoln Center right now. Let's go there live. Dayana, are you there?

Dayana: Right here, guys. I've managed to get backstage where...

Voice: Excuse me, ma'am but you can't be back here.

Dayana: Of course I can. Andy invited me. He promised a close-up of The Donald's comb-over.

Voice: Let's go...

Dayana (fading): ... Hey! Get your hands off me! Andy, help! Anyone! Please, help me! I'm a Fool!

Rick: OK, then. Soooo...what did you think, Tim?

Tim: I agree with John. Jen got thrown under the bus and she didn't deserve it. How tough it must have been for her to sit through those audience interviews!

Rick: I thought Kelly was a lock, but I think Jen came on pretty strong at the end. Kelly seemed mortal at times. However, those endorsements from the audience were impossible for Trump to ignore. And I hate to play the race or gender card, but I wouldn't want to be a white male applicant in the next season of the show.

Dayana (breaking back in): Yeah, especially after Omarosa's stump speech from the audience....Hey! Get away from me!

Rick: Dayana? You there? It looks like we've lost the feed. How much longer do we have to wait for the next season? This couch is going to be too big without the two of you.

Tim: Looks like January 20, buddy. Keep the refrigerator stocked.

Rick: You got it. Any parting thoughts?

Tim: Only this: Next season's candidates better be ready to go from day one. Head-to-head, Jen was at least Kelly's equal. In the final task she had more problems to overcome and teammates who previously all but hated her. And her performance in the final interview positively blew Kelly away. Even Trump noticed.

Rick: Yep. Kelly won because he had the history, the experience, and the winning track record. The Donald was right: Winning really is everything when you're trying to become (dramatic, Trump-like pause) The Apprentice.

Until next season, suite dreams.


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