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'Celebrity Apprentice' Recap: Transparency

Arsenio Hall and Clay Aiken vie for victory with help from old frenemies

Arsenio Hall on 'The Celebrity Apprentice'
Douglas Gorenstein/NBC
May 14, 2012 9:00 AM ET

"There are no losers in this room," Donald Trump tells the three remaining Celebrity Apprentice contestants, Clay Aiken, Aubrey O'Day and Arsenio Hall, as they await their fate in the boardroom. When last week's episode concluded, the trio had been informed that only two of them would continue on to the final task, which meant that one was moments away from getting the ax.

All three plead their case to Trump, then His Trumpness delivers his verdict. "You are transparent," he says to an utterly shocked O'Day, echoing the words of last week's celebrity advisors and last season’s finalists, John Rich and Marlee Matlin. O’Day is fired. "Whoever said I'm transparent, fuck them," O'Day tells the camera after exiting in swift fashion. Before departing however, Trump's silent-yet-amazing assistant, Amanda, blows O'Day a magnificent goodbye kiss.

Naturally, Aiken and Hall are elated, as they should be. "I'm getting in your ass," Hall says to Aiken as they exit. He quickly realizes his verbal misstep. "You might want to rephrase that," Aiken says, laughing hysterically. For Aiken, who came in second to Ruben Studdard on American Idol back in 2003, there's a sense of unfinished business. "This time I ain't gonna lose," he says. "I will sleep when it's all over. Until then, game on!"

The next day the two men arrive at Lincoln Center and are informed of their final task: they’ll be putting on, hosting and selling tickets to a celebrity charity event. They’ll also be performing a variety show at the event and producing a 30-second PSA for their charity. The winner of the task – and ultimately, of Celebrity Apprentice – will receive $250,000 for their charity as well as the money they raise via the 75 tickets they’ve been allotted to sell. There’s more news: Some of our favorite contestants (we use the word "favorite” mildly) are back to help out. Who's back? Well, here’s how the two teams shake out. Hall's team includes Adam Carolla, Lisa Lampanelli, Paul Teutul Sr. and Teresa Giudice; Aiken, meanwhile, is joined by Penn Jillette, Debbie Gibson, Dee Snider and O'Day.

The teams break off and hit the ground running. Team Clay, stocked with music-minded members, is going to put on a music-centric event. Aiken's charity is the National Inclusion Project, a foundation he helped create that aims to help include disabled children with their non-handicapped peers. The team's motto for their carnival-themed event is "Let's ALL Play." O'Day, having been picked last and snubbed by Hall, is out for revenge. "I really think Arsenio is dirt," she says with a vindictive glimmer in her eye. "I hope Clay wins."

Team Arsenio, playing for the Magic Johnson Foundation and including a gaggle of comic minds, is going the comedic route. Things are a bit shaky, though, when Carolla initially suggests a kids-themed comedy show. But Hall quickly asserts his dominance. "I'm Barack in this motherfucker!" he beams. "I'm the leader!" With the Magic Johnson Foundation’s purpose being to raise awareness to HIV and AIDS, the team decides to tailor their event – and later their PSA, as well – around the Eighties. As they see it, many things have changed since the Eighties, yet HIV and AIDS sadly remain. It's a smart idea, and it becomes even better when it provides a platform for each team member to don a perm'ed wig for the PSA.

Of course, fundraising is also a major element of this task. Hall’s team hits the phones, calling on major Hollywood players – Eddie Murphy, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfield, George Lopez, etc. – to pony up some charitable cash. "I thought you were friends with Oprah?" Lampanelli asks Hall. Aiken's team, meanwhile, is having a bit more trouble snagging donations. He does however, land a donation from Lampanelli despite the fact that she’s on Hall’s team. Classy move, Lisa!

There are still PSAs to be made, and Carolla has taken charge for Team Arsenio. Hall wants Magic Johnson to appear in the 30-second clip, so Carolla arranges for an L.A. video crew to film the basketball legend speaking about his charity. Aiken puts Jillette in charge of his team's PSA; it will depict kids playing together in a park, with the viewer unaware of which is the disabled one. Location is proving to be an issue, however, because New York doesn't have much green, park-like space to shoot; a grassy area beneath a housing project ends up becoming the only option.

With so many contestants now back in the fold, it’d be safe to assume there would be boatloads of crazy drama. Ironically though, there’s almost none. Each former contestant, from O'Day and Giudice planning the respective events to Gibson arranging the music, appears happy to help out. Tempers do flare, however, when Aiken and Gibson go at it regarding a mural for the event that is to be painted by Gibson's cousin. Aiken says he doesn’t want this to happen unless he can see a sketch of what it will look like. And Gibson? Well, she thinks Aiken is being a micromanaging nutjob. Tears nearly flow.

Not everything is completely rosy on Team Arsenio, either. Why? The footage of Magic Johnson comes in and is plain awful: Johnson is facing in the wrong direction. Why did this happen? Well, it could be because Carolla failed to tell Hall his "L.A. video team" was really just audio guys trying to help out. Whoops!

So where does that leave us? Both teams are still going all out to prepare for the impending event, finishing up their PSAs and still working to string together an entertaining variety show. Who will win? We're going to have to wait until the season finale next week to find out. Oh, and just because you need to hear this, Snider may be singing “Baby Love” on next week’s episode. Says Snider, “If you had told me I'd be singing 'Baby Love' with Debbie Gibson in the 1980s I would have punched you in the face.” Amen, Dee.

Next Week: "It's Finally Here" touts the teaser for next week's finale. Both teams put on their respective events, tempers flare and, awesomely, we get a live boardroom with all the contestants back for tell-all goodness. Oh, and the winner is announced.

Last episode: The Hair Model Wars

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