'Apprentice' winner chosen

BILL BRIOUX -- TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Last night's three-hour Apprentice marathon sucked every last ounce of interest out of this series. Thirty minutes in, I was starting to wonder what Donald Trump's blonde lieutenant Caroline looked like naked. After 50 minutes, George. The opening hour -- where contenders Jennifer Massey and Kelly Perdew completed their final tasks -- could have been done in 10 minutes, 15 tops.

Jennifer had to oversee a charity basketball game. Kelly looked after a polo match. Big whoop.

The two players were shown staying up all night, photo copying signs, getting lost, etc. There was inane banter between Kelly's clownish helpers Raj and John.

Ironic that executive producer Mark Burnett worked a basketball game into this finale. Both Survivor and The Apprentice are basically NBA games -- you only have to watch the last two minutes.

That wasn't entirely true last night. About an hour in, the two weenies got roasted in the boardroom. Jennifer got into a shouting match with George. She looked like she was yelling at her granddad. Kelly said he should win because he stepped up and delivered every single time. Jennifer said she should win because she stayed up three nights in a row.

Compelling.

Executive producer Mark Burnett must have realized his formula was getting stale. At the half-way point, around 9:30, he pulled his cameras out of what looked like Trump's boardroom to reveal that the whole set was on stage at a Manhattan's jam-packed Lincoln Centre.

Suddenly we were watching Live! With Regis & Kelly -- as in Kelly Perdew.

Regis Philbin was called in to work the crowd. He sounded a little hoarse. Does this guy ever stop? He's here, he's there, day and night, writing, writing, writing ... wait, that's me.

Reege quizzed CEOs and Apprentice 1 players (including original winner Bill Rancic) in the front rows. All stood up for Kelly. We even heard from the former West Point cadet's commanding officer. Was there any way this guy could lose?

As it turned out, no. Just after 10 p.m., Trump barked "You're fired," to Jennifer and "You're hired" to Kelly. He was offered a job in either Vegas or Manhattan (cue the Trump infomercials) and chose the Big Apple.

Things got a little Vegas anyway. The O'Jays were wheeled out and sang Money Money Money Money, The Apprentice's catchy theme. Sugar Ray Leonard took a bow and worked in a fat plug for NBC's (and Burnett's) next big reality show, The Contender.

Wayne Newton must have been booked.

Clips were shown of two women bickering. Another plug for Contender. Trump's receptionist and Raj did some shtick. The fat lady was singing her lungs out. I stopped imagining Caroline naked. I stopped imagining anything.

It was three hours I'll never get back. There was a final plug for the next edition of The Apprentice, premiering Jan. 20 ("The book smarts vs. the street smarts"-- an idea stolen from Fox), but, Mr. Trump, I have to tell you -- you're fired!


Videos

Photos