SAN DIEGO, May 20, 2012 –Clay Aiken said he wasn’t about to come in second on another reality television competition. But he did.
Donald Trump named Arsenio Hall the new “The Celebrity Apprentice” over runner-up Clay Aiken in the final Sunday night.
Upon hearing his name, Hall stood and pointed up in honor of his cousin, who died from AIDS just before he agreed to appear on the show. He played in her honor. “I’ll be fighting the rest of my life in her memory,” Hall said.
In the (long) lead-up to the announcement, fans watched the conclusion of the final challenge, heard from the castoff competitors this season, and watched a most unlikely duet of Aiken and Hall singing “Lean On Me.”
For the final challenge, eight celebrities were brought back to help the finalists complete three tasks: stage a celebrity charity event, shoot a 30 second public service announcement for their charities, and raise money. Teams worked to earn their finalist $250,000 for their charity. Clay Aiken plays for The Inclusion Project, which is his own charity; Arsenio Hall plays for the Magic Johnson Foundation.
Penn Jillette, Debbie Gibson, Dee Snider and Aubrey O’Day worked with Clay Aiken; Adam Carolla, Lisa Lampanelli, Paul Teutul, Sr. and Teresa Giudice worked with Arsenio Hall.
Some artificial tension was built in, but in general all the tasks were completed well. Arsenio Hall had the edge in the PSA with the star power of Magic Johnson himself plus a little humor. Clay Aiken put on a terrific stage show, highlighted by the duet of Debbie Gibson and Dee Snider until Snider brought out the big gun: his Twisted Sister hit, “We’re Not Going to Take it.”
Although in last week’s episode it appeared Clay Aiken was running behind Arsenio Hall’s fundraising take, at the end Aiken raised far more money: $301,500 to Hall’s $167,100. Hall got most of his money from comedians including Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, George Lopez, and Eddie Murphy. Aiken’s Claymates came through with a lot of money, along with former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.
Both competitors were permitted to keep the money raised for their own charities.
Because Aiken had such a fundraising edge, because many of the other celebrities named him as their favorite to win, and the backstory about Aiken coming in second on American Idol made it seem sure that Trump would pick him. But it may have been Hall’s undefeated record as a project manager, passion for his charity and his ability to avoid clashing with anyone except Aubrey O’Day (who slammed him during the finale) that won it for him with Trump.
Hall has been out of circulation focusing on his role as a single father to his son. He now wants to get back into the late night television business, and hopes to get an opportunity to host a show again. Hall has been making the interview rounds as part of Celebrity Apprentice, and he’ll do a victory lap this week. It could provide the sort of springboard he’s been looking for. The program allowed him to re-introduce himself to the American public.
Arsenio Hall now joins previous winners John Rich, Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers, and Bret Michaels. He wins the grand prize of $250,000 to add to the rest of his winnings on behalf of the Magic Johnson Foundation.
As for Aiken, he may be a bridesmaid once again, but coming in second on American Idol didn’t hurt his career one bit, and neither will his second place finish this time. Aiken raised an incredible amount of money for his charity and his Claymates are more loyal than ever. Following the show, the push was on to raise even more money for The Inclusion Project with messages on Twitter and fan blogs to text “Clay” to 50555 and make a $10 donation.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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