Well... I guess one way to look at it all is... I now can't do any worse on this show than I did on my last one.
As I said in the Boardroom at the beginning of the episode, there is so much deja vu going on for me now.
Almost 10 years ago, I met Ruben Studdard randomly in the hallway of the Glendale Hilton during Idol's "Hollywood Round." Despite our differences, we struck up a fast friendship that lasted through the entire season, and then we ended up competing against each other in the final.
At the very beginning of the Apprentice shoot, the producers threw a little reception for all of the contestants. Many of us had no idea who would be on the show with us. I knew that Debbie would be participating. I knew about George Takei, Lisa Lampanelli and Penn Jillette, but that was it.
That night, as people arrived at the reception, I was standing in a corner sort of avoiding the crowd. I am NOT very good with crowds and get sort of uncomfortable, so I was pretty much hiding. I turn around and there stands Arsenio Hall. I had grown up watching his talk show before I went to bed every night in middle school. (I was never cool enough to know what the popular music or pop culture topics were, so I watched his show as an education. It helped me know what was cool!) Here in front of me was this legend that I had grown up on. He was hiding in the corner too!!! Ha ha.
We both bonded very quickly over our mutual reclusiveness, and throughout the competition, Arsenio became an incredible, incredible friend.
So, just like on Idol, I stand at the penultimate point in the competition head-to-head with a great friend. It's an incredible honor, and at the same time stressful.
This final task is a BEAR!!!! Walking up to the final task delivery, I think Arsenio and I were so excited to be in the final that we didn't anticipate how much of an undertaking we would be met with.
A fundraiser. A party to throw. A commercial to write, direct, shoot and edit. And a performance! This really is like a final exam at the end of an already tough semester.
Fortunately, we get help.
He and I both explain a bit of our thought process behind choosing the people to help that we chose. I can't speak anymore to why he chose folks than he already has said, but I can go in depth a bit more about how I went about choosing them.
When we found out we had to do a variety show, I KNEW I wanted both Debbie and Aubrey. The two of them are vocalists in a similar vein to me so I thought taking them would be important to my process.
I KNEW that I had Aubrey no matter what. With the tension between Aubrey and Arsenio, I had little doubt that he would not pick her. So I felt I was set with her.
I also knew I wanted Lisa. I wasn't sure how her brand of comedy would play in my variety show, but I had LOVED working with her and she is a BRILLIANT worker and multitalented. So I wanted her.
I also knew I would like to have Penn. I respect Penn's mind. He's brilliant and creative, and I wanted Mr. Trump (AND PENN) to know that I harbored no ill will against him.
My plan was to pick Lisa first because I thought she would be the person I'd most like to have. But, when Arsenio picked Adam, I panicked. Adam is brilliantly creative in the same way that Penn is. If Arsenio took Penn AND Adam, I was worried he would have a powerhouse duo on the team. So, I snatched Penn up first.
I certainly didn't expect for Arsenio to take Lisa. He had never worked with her before. We know now that Arsenio was trying to keep Lisa away from me in the same way I was trying to keep Penn away from him, so I lost that one.
I still wanted a musical theme, so losing Lisa meant there was room made for Dee, and that made me just as happy.
Debbie Gibson is a musical prodigy. She may sing her stuff a LOT!! ;-) But when it comes to writing music, arranging and playing, she is like few people I have ever met. Building a medley of songs and getting them arranged in a great way was so important. Debbie was my first musical pick.
Again, I KNEW I would get Aubrey, so I could save her till the end. I didn't pick her last because I didn't want her. I picked her last because I knew I could.
In the end I KNOW I have the strongest team!
When we did the fundraising task with Dee as the head of Unanimous, it was really important to him to talk to us about March of Dimes and show us how important the charity was, so I wanted to do that with my new team.
Explaining the work of National Inclusion Project is not so easy to do in just a few words or sentences, so most of them didn't know about what we do. I was so thankful to be able to talk to them about how important the work is to me and how much I REALLY valued their help during the task.
Penn's charity, Opportunity Village, is not too unlike National Inclusion Project in that it helps individuals with disabilities participate in the greater world and keeps them from being ostracized. Therefore, I knew Penn would have the mind and the heart for helping to come up with the concept for our charity ad. He took the initial seed of an idea that I had and I truly believe he made it better.
Aubrey has an incredible eye for design and is a perfectionist when it comes to producing. I thought her party for Crystal Light was incredible (even if we did win over her team). Having Aubrey take the lead on the party was a no-brainer. And for our party, Aubrey stepped outside of the box (I'd love to think she took that cue from our outside-the-box beach party, but Aubrey is pretty creative on her own) and really got to work on an original design that encapsulated the mission of National Inclusion Project.
Debbie knows her music. So giving her a bit of direction on what I wanted for the variety show and letting her brainstorm some more was perfect for her.
If there was consternation, I think it came from the fact that there was confusion over what the meaning of "delegation" is. While I certainly trusted each person to handle the task I asked him or her to handle, the bottom line is that my butt is on the line for all of it. Therefore, I don't have the luxury of just letting other people make final decisions for me.
Not wanting to have ALL of the walls in the event space painted was a decision made out of using our resources wisely. We certainly didn't have time to get it all done and I wanted to focus on more important things than painted walls. The compromise, which was painting ONE wall and doing so elaborately, was a fair trade off, I believe.
I certainly wasn't trying to take authority away from Debbie in the arrangement of the musical medleys. I just believed (after hearing the first drafts) that certain tweaks needed to be made. I feel that, as the project manager, I needed to sing a bit more vs. less and that certain parts of certain songs could be shortened to keep the medleys moving at a faster (more entertaining) pace. I absolutely wasn't taking authority away from Debbie or Aubrey - I hadn't given it to them in the first place. I have to make the decisions myself.
That came into play with the mural as well. (And let me preface this by saying, Debbie and I were friends before this entire show started and we are still friends and will remain friends.) My concern with the mural had nothing to do with my trust of Debbie's judgment; it had nothing to do with my trust of her cousin's talent. To me the issue was that this mural, if it is to be put on the wall, would be 70 feet wide and twenty feet tall. I don't want to have any surprises.
Debbie wanted SOOOO badly to help. In fact, Debbie's passion for helping during this task is the most genuine of anyone's on the show. She attacks every cause as though she has a personal investment... I could NOT be more appreciative of her for that!! BUT I NEED TO SEE A SKETCH BEFORE IT GOES ON THE WALL!!!!!!!!
And yet, somehow, while all of this drama is going on over on my team, Arsenio's team is singing "Kumbaya" and having a virtual lovefest with each other! My take on it all is that Team Arsenio is working so well and so peacefully together because... well... they're attempting some pretty easy and pretty basic elements.
-A video shoot against a white backdrop versus a video shoot with children in the grass underneath a housing project.
-A basic cocktail party versus a patented "Aubrey O'Day over-the-top" themed carnival party
-A variety show based on individual comic performances versus a variety show that tries to blend everyone together and get the one and only Dee Snider to sing Motown!
-A fundraising effort calling big name celebrity donors versus a fundraising effort calling random people in the phonebook!! Ha ha.
Taking big risks does NOT always prove to be the right thing to do. Arsenio seems to be having a relatively low stress task... I seem to be having a stroke!
Next week... it all comes to an end!
We'll all find out together if Debbie's mural ever gets done (or if we argued for no reason at all). We'll all get to laugh our heads off at Arsenio's comedy show and, hopefully, our musical variety show will pull together. We'll all watch what I think is an INCREDIBLE ad for National Inclusion Project, and we'll see if Arsenio can make some "magic" happen with the side of Magic Johnson's head!
Either way... it's been an amazing ride with some amazing people, and if I end up coming in 2nd again... it will be 2nd to an AMAZING FRIEND.
See you next week for the live finale... and MORE than a few surprises.