'The Celebrity Apprentice' – The Final Task Ends On A Cliffhanger

May 14th, 2012 6:03pm EDT

Clay Aiken, Arsenio Hall Advance to Finale Previously, on Celebrity Apprentice: the Final Five was whittled down to four, when Teresa Giudice project managed her team’s assignment to a loss. But the Donald was not finished yet; he brought in last season’s Celebrity Apprentice winner John Rich, and runner up Marlee Matlin, to interview Arsenio Hall, Aubrey O’Day, Clay Aiken and Lisa Lampanelli. Based on John and Marlee’s recommendations, he fired Lisa. This week, we’ll find out the second person chopped, and have one last challenge. Next week, the winner will be chosen. Ready?

Arsenio, Aubrey and Clay wait nervously for Trump’s decision. He begins by saying that there are no losers in the room, but there is at least one, isn’t there? Because one of the three will be leaving. Each gives good reason to be kept on, but it’s Aubrey’s turn to leave, despite Trumps assertion of her “great beauty and great intelligence.”

She takes the firing graciously, blows a two handed, Marilyn Monroe-ish, goodbye kiss to Amanda the receptionist, but interviews, “There’s nothing see-through about me. I’m somebody that stands in your face and is so bright and shines so big that you’re either intimidated, you’re annoyed, or you’re in love.”

In the Board Room, Clay’s having a little déjà vu, finding himself once again a finalist against a tall black man. Arsenio’s thrilled to have the opportunity to win more money for his charity. Trump will see them tomorrow when he assigns the final task.

As they leave, Arsenio says “I’m getting in your ass.” Clay laughs and says, “You might want to rephrase that.” Arsenio is flustered when he realizes he was misunderstood. Clay just gives him a hug.

In the Winner’s room, Clay says that this time, he’s not going to lose. He’s been known as the American Idol runner up for years. He’ll work even harder to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Arsenio’s just as determined to win the money for the Magic Johnson foundation.

At the Lincoln Centre, Trump and the Trumpettes (Don Jr. and Ivanka) meet with Clay and Arsenio to outline their biggest task of the challenge. They will have to produce, host, and sell tickets to a celebrity charity event. They’ll be responsible for all aspects of the show, including selling tickets, creating a thirty second charity awareness ad, and producing a variety show to entertain their guests. They themselves will be the entertainment at their show. So they’ll need a little help getting organized.

Time to bring back the also-rans! The Final Two will have help from some of the celebrities who’ve been eliminated over the season. Welcome back, Debbie Gibson, Aubrey, Lisa, Teresa, Penn Jillette, Dee Snider, Adam Carolla, and Paul Teutel Sr. In a very awkward schoolyard pick, Arsenio grabs Adam, Lisa, Paul and Teresa for his team, while Clay chooses Penn, Debbie and Dee. Since no one wants Aubrey, she sheepishly joins Clay’s group. Oh, someone will pay for this humiliation, I’m sure!

While the winning team will get $50,000.00 for their charity, any money they earn from their show will go to the Project Manager’s charity, so both teams are ready to give it their all.

Team Clay convene, and Clay begins by telling them about his charity, the National Inclusion Project, which he began after appearing on American Idol. It allows special needs kids to be involved in events they might normally not get a chance to experience.

Clay assigns Aubrey to planning and decorating; Penn and Dee will handle the creative for the ad; Debbie will work on the music for the variety show. Penn proffers “let’s all play” as a slogan. Aubrey thinks that a carnival motif would work, and Clay says they could also have inclusive games, reflecting his charities concerns. Aubrey’s prepared to take on any and all jobs.

Clay’s not working as well with Penn, who has dismissed Clay’s first idea for an advertisement. Clay wants creative input, not putdowns. Penn does finally come up with an idea that works for Clay. Clay says Penn’s hit the nail on the head; it’s a great ad concept.

Team Arsenio is also talking charity, as Arsenio outlines a few statistics about people suffering from HIV/AIDs. Lisa points out that they only have 75 tickets to sell in total, so they need to prioritize a list of their best and biggest donors. Adam wonders if they should sell the tickets based on attracting an audience of children. The donor would be buying their ticket for a child, not themselves. Lisa doesn’t think the team is necessarily ‘kid friendly,’ but doesn’t want to go over PM Arsenio’s head. Arsenio very diplomatically vetoes Adam’s idea. Adam’s next idea is a return to the eighties.

Next, Adam says that he can get people from his radio show to visit and film Magic Johnson, who’s on the West Coast, and have the film sent to them in New York. Arsenio works out a comedy concept for their 30 second ad, loosely based around Magic Johnson’s own words.

Since the most important aspect is raising donations, Paul Teutel Sr. begins calling his wealthiest friends, and Teresa uses her own contacts tirelessly.

Next stop, the Costumers. Adam and Teresa are greeted by the manager who shows them his office – inside a cage. Even odder is the man’s office ‘art’ – a giant penis statue. Adam finds it all very creepy. But they strike gold with costumes for characters based on Michael Jackson, Madonna , Cyndi Lauper, and a new wave, romantic look.

Ivanka drops by Arsenio’s room, where Lisa assures her that she’s already raised $50,000.00 that will be forwarded to Arsenio’s charity. Teresa’s got $5000.00 pledged. Arsenio assures Ivanka that he’s having a great time with his team, and that they’re all working well together. He tells her that they’ve got Magic’s approval via video, and they’re working on a comedic event. Ivanka admires Arsenio’s whole hearted embrace of his charity. She agrees that his idea of providing comedy and laughter may be more universal than basing a show on musical performances.

Team Clay now has to decide on the music they will be performing, so Debbie and Clay sit down to toss around songs. How about Dee and Debbie dueting on “Baby Love?” Dee’s a good sport but says “If you had told me that I’d be singing ‘Baby Love’ with Debbie Gibson in the 1980s, I would have punched you in the face.” He can’t get a handle on where the show is going, but will play along.

Don Jr. stops by for an update. Clay immediately asks Junior if he’d like to sing in their show. Junior wisely says he wouldn’t be an asset. Clay is sure that he has the best team, especially when Penn says Teller will be joining him on stage for a 4 minute ‘cups and balls’ routine. Although Junior thinks they have great ideas and a great team, he’s wondering why there doesn’t seem to be any emphasis on bringing in donations, as that’s important criteria for a win.

By nightfall, Team Arsenio is concentrating on soliciting donations, with everyone pulling out the stops to find the best donors. Arsenio’s called Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, George Lopez and Tracy Morgan. Lisa’s trying to reach Jerry Seinfeld. They’re working the phones nonstop.

Clay admits that he’s not pushed his team to bring in money, but now is the time they need to focus on donations. He’s worried that he won’t come anywhere near the amount that Arsenio’s team will be able to pull in.

At the Skylight Soho, a huge warehouse space, the two teams will perform side by side, separated by a wall. Arsenio has no idea how they’ll decorate the large space in such a short time. Teresa’s put in charge of organizing the décor and catering, with Lisa’s help, and a few event specialists.

Team Clay’s ‘visionary and perfectionist’ Aubrey walks a décor specialist through their space. She can also get one of her designer friends to do custom circus outfits for everyone. Clay loves Aubrey’s enthusiasm, but says she needs to be pulled back to a place that is workable. Stilt walkers! Balloons! Popcorn gift bags! Let’s paint the whole room! We can each call five friends and get the whole room painted in half an hour!

Clay tries to diplomatically tell Aubrey that they will not be painting the 77 foot wall, and why, but Aubrey immediately feels disrespected. She wants to ‘execute her vision’ regardless of Clay’s wishes and she’ll do it better than you could ever dream of! Debbie suddenly realizes that her cousin could do a mural, but can she do it in a few hours? Debbie’s miffed that Clay wants to see a sketch of the mural before the cousin starts the painting.

It’s the beginning of day two, and Clay, Dee and Penn are headed for a park in New York City where they’ll film their ad. On the phone, Debbie and Aubrey keep bringing up problems, including the need to run off and buy paint for the mural that Clay does not want in the first place. On top of that, the park they’re using smells terrible, and there’s an elevated train passing by every few minutes, ruining any chance for decent audio capture.

They begin searching for a better park, but finding an unlocked, grassy space in New York is not easy, and time is running out. Finally they come upon a baseball diamond, but it’s occupied with actual baseball players. Although the team manager is a Clay-mate, they’re still not allowed to use the field.

Penn finds a small grassy area just under a high rise apartment. Cast and crew hop the fence and stealthily begin to set up their shot. Dee marvels at how quickly Clay snaps into “full teacher mode,” organizing the kids.

By contrast, Arsenio has a great studio for his work, and his Team Arsenio is having a riot with their 80’s wardrobe. Teresa mentions that her hair was high and huge in the '80s. (Everybody’s was, actually.) Adam cracks that Teresa has “a great sort of youthful enthusiasm. It might be called naïveté. And I can say that freely because she doesn’t know what that word means. She’s at home looking that crap up right now.”

Lisa thinks Arsenio’s going to have a great PSA. What could possibly go wrong? Adam is in constant voice contact with his team filming in LA. They only need 10 or 12 seconds of Magic on film, but everything has to fit perfectly to make the pieces come together. Adam leaves it in the hands of his crew, while he and Arsenio head for the editing bay. Teresa, Lisa and Paul will be working the phones for more donations.

In editing, Adam’s happy with their footage. Now all they need is the Magic. But they’re waiting for the file to upload, and have yet to see what has been sent for their use. What Adam hasn’t told Arsenio is that his crew work with audio podcast quality NOT broadcast quality video. And that they’re not exactly the most professional crew available, either. In fact, they’ve managed to film Magic standing facing to the left of the camera, so that it appears he’s talking to someone standing off screen. Oops! This can’t be fixed.

Arsenio is devastated. He feels like he’s just lost it all. There’s no time to re-shoot, and they can’t use the video they’ve received.

Aubrey and Debbie get to the rehearsal studio, where they will piece together the music for their show. Debbie’s musical Director, Sy, is there to help with the arrangements. Debbie’s in her element. Aubrey cracks up when Debbie once again brings her song “Shake your Love” into the medley. “Somebody kill me,” Aubrey says, as Debbie explains the lyrics. Aubrey just wants to take over and get it all done, but she’s deferring to her ‘elder’ in the music industry. (Also the one who actually had pop chart success, but I digress.)

Dee, Penn and Clay work on the editing. Debbie and Aubrey drop by for an update. Debbie has strong opinions on the musical background Dee’s chosen for the ad, but Clay sticks to his guns; he’s the one who’ll win or lose the contest.

Lisa, who’s on the opposing team, calls Clay to say that she’d like to reserve a ticket to his event, and to bring him a check. Clay’s really touched by Lisa’s kindness. But things are about to get difficult.

Debbie introduces Clay to her music director. Clay asks her to run through the medley from the top so that he can make changes as needed. She wants him to make notes as she goes along. Debbie wants to do it her way; Clay wants to do it his. Neither is happy.

Debbie’s also trying to organize her cousin’s mural, but Clay won’t go ahead with the mural unless he sees a sketch beforehand. Debbie says she’s recruited a family member, who’s organizing about fifteen people to help get the wall done, to do something really special. Clay says he told her that he had to see a sketch beforehand. Debbie says, yeah, but you put Aubrey in charge of the décor. Clay agrees, but reiterates that he asked to see a sketch before any paint goes on the wall. Aubrey says she’s talked to the cousin, and the cousin is legitimate, but Clay says he doesn’t care; nothing goes on the wall without him seeing a sketch first.

Aubrey thinks Clay is making a big mistake if he pulls the plug on the mural. After all, he delegated people to do things, now he has to trust those people to do their jobs. (Myself, I can’t understand why an artist in 2012 couldn’t either send a fax or a .jpg of her proposed design; are she and her helpers just going to freeform paint on the wall the next day, in a few hours?)

Debbie’s near tears and Dee thinks Clay should be making more of an effort to work with his team. (again, fax? Email?) Clay tells Debbie that he‘s not diminishing her effort, but he’s made his position clear, both the previous night, and 17 times that day. He’s not going to paint a wall in a space that he’s being judged on, if he doesn’t know what’s being painted. Again Debbie says that Clay needs to have some trust, but Clay says he trusts Debbie and Aubrey, but not someone whose work he’s never seen. Clay listens in as Debbie calls her cousin, and takes offense when Debbie says that he’s ‘nervous.’

Let’s not forget that CLAY NEVER WANTED THE WALL PAINTED IN THE FIRST PLACE. Phew, now I feel better.

Hey, what happened? The show suddenly ends, and it’s time for a look at next week’s final episode.

Next Sunday: it’s finally here - the live season finale. Clay and Arsenio were underdogs, now they’re the top dogs! And as the final task concludes, everyone’s pushed to their limit. But the final Board Room is brutal. Then, in the live portion, Dayana Mendoza, Lou Ferrigno and Lisa Lampanelli will have to share the same stage.

Related: Adam Carolla, Arsenio Hall, Aubrey O'Day, Clay Aiken, Dayana Mendoza, Debbie Gibson, Dee Snider, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Lisa Lampanelli, Lou Ferrigno, Magic Johnson, Paul Teutul Sr., Penn Jillette, Teresa Giudice, The Celebrity Apprentice, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Celebrity, Reality, Charity & Good Deeds, TV Networks, NBC

Photo Credits: NBC

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