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Celebrity Apprentice Finale

Celebrity Apprentice winner John Rich

Heading into the Celebrity Apprentice finale last night, it was a tight race between country singer John Rich, 37, and deaf actress Marlee Matlin, 45 (she looks great for 45 no?).

In fact Donald Trump revealed that this was his toughest ruling yet in the history of the show. “I’ve never had to go through something like this… You’ve both been amazing,” said Trump to both finalists before announcing a winner.

Ultimately, John, one-half of the country-music duo Big & Rich, came out on top, beating Marlee to earn a $250,000 check for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Marlee had been competing for the Starkey Hearing Foundation charity.

“Today has been an unbelievable day!” said John after his win. “I got Trump to put on a Stetson hat on national television and now I get to drive down to Memphis with a $250,000 check for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

With the exception of Richard Hatch, who is back in prison for tax evasion (much to the delight of David Cassidy), most of the “fired” contestants returned for the live finale. Though noticeably missing was music legend Dionne Warwick.

Of course the Donald had to revisit the whole Nene Leakes vs everyone Star Jones drama. Nene claimed she had moved on and didn’t hold a grudge, only to yell over Star seconds later while Star attempted to answer a question from Trump.

And right before he made the winner announcement, Trump promised to do something he had never done before. What was that you ask? Well while he hired John, he did not fire Marlee. Rightfully so as there were no losers this season with over $3 million raised for charity– a record for the show.

It was also announced last week that Trump will return for another season of the Celebrity Apprentice.

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A new winner will be crowned tonight on Celebrity Apprentice as Marlee Matlin and John Rich go head to head!

And leading up to tonight’s finale, Marlee spoke out on the drama involving her fired former teammates Star Jones and Nene Leakes, making it clear she wasn’t a fan. “Whatever the hoopla was that surrounded the relationship they had and whatever drama came, I didn’t choose to involve it in terms of the way I played the game,” said Marlee in a conference call with the press. “Whatever way they decided to deal with each other isn’t what I am about or the kind of person I am.”

Marlee’s comments would explain why she did not choose Star to join her team for the final task. She continued, “Whatever clash that occurred, for me, it got too old too quick. I just decided to focus on the task; it’s not about who I am. Sometimes it overshadowed the purpose and my aim for being there which was to raise money for charity but I would never let it get in the way.”

Marlee then went on to make it clear that she still respects both women. “But they are both women I respect and I know are very vocal and that’s what is great about them,” she added.

Meanwhile, John Rich also revealed a shocking tidbit while talking to the press, which is that he and rapper Lil Jon were actually friends before the Apprentice – something they both failed to reveal on the show!

According to Jon, he met Lil Jon years ago at an awards show. “I remember shaking hands with him at an awards show,” said John. “It wasn’t like we became best friends or anything because we live in different towns, but anytime I was in Atlanta or LA, because he is back and forth between the two towns, I’d always call him, and every now and then he’d be in Nashville and would call me.”

In fact, John called Lil Jon to inform him about joining the CA cast only to discover Lil Jon would also be appearing on the show. “I actually called when I’d decided I would be on Celebrity Apprentice to tell him I’d be on a TV show and might need him to help me out with a task or donation at some point,” said John. “He started laughing and said, ‘Too late, I’m on the same show!’ We just laughed our heads off. At that point I said, ‘This will be fun.”

So can we expect a music collabo from the ‘Jons?’ That answer is a yes! “We actually did record something together and there is a record coming out now called Rich Rocks, and Lil Jon appears as a guest artist,” explain John. “It’s a really cool thing and I’ve had a huge response from all the country fans that are really liking him too.”

The finale/reunion episode begins tonight at 9/8c. Nene, Garey Busey, and the other fired celebs (excluding Richard Hatch who is back in jail) will all be in attendance!

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