For those uninterested in last night’s masochistic Lost event, another, slightly less anticipated, way more feel-good finale was taking place over on NBC: The conclusion of The Celebrity Apprentice, complete with some real-life drama! It was unclear if finalist Bret Michaels would be able to attend the live broadcast, as after enduring an appendectomy last month, followed by a severe brain hemorrhage, capped by a warning stroke caused by an undiagnosed hole in the singer’s heart, doctors advised against Michaels’s attendance (coming under the “duh” school of medical recommendations). But ever a rock-and-roll rebel (and an idiot?), Michaels ignored the warnings and showed up to argue for The Celebrity Apprentice crown.
To his credit, Michaels had risen through the prestigious pack (which included such noted business minds as Darryl Strawberry, Cyndi Lauper, and Rod Blagojevich) to become a finalist alongside Holly Robinson Peete before any of his health problems — despite his penchant for sleeping in and, well, that hair, Michaels displayed an impressive drive, artistic eye, and savvy business sense in most of the season’s challenges. But all along, Robinson Peete was clearly the favorite, and Michaels’s rise felt like a fun story for Trump to milk for ratings. And then Michaels got really, really sick. He was on the cover of People and went on Oprah to talk about his ordeal. And then he got sick again! If there were any way he could make it to the Apprentice finale, we knew he had it in the bag.
And so on a night dominated by Lost, Michaels was Trump’s saving grace. He entered the studio to a long standing ovation (he looked good, if not a little orange, and with a slight limp) to signs of “Get well, Bret!,” and even Robinson Peete had to joke: “My 5-year-old son woke up this morning and said, ‘Mom, I love you, but I’m kind of pulling for Bret.’” And so it was, but not before Trump announced that Snapple was matching the $250,000 final prize for the losing player (Robinson Peete, who, in true Celebrity Apprentice fashion, had to endure some sexist banter: “Isn’t she beautiful,” Trump condescended. “That’s a baby-making dress,” replied Michaels. Gross). It was a fairy tale ending for Trump — Michaels lived, he made it on the show, and won, all while handing Trump a ratings bump. Reality-TV dreams really do come true, especially if someone nearly dies.