OFFSTAGE: John Rich Wins Celebrity Apprentice

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Ten minutes into Sunday night’s (May 22) Celebrity Apprentice finale, John Rich tweeted that he was “getting ready to RAWWWWKKK!” And RAWWWWKKK he did. Well, after he covered for Def Leppard, whom he introduced to an eager crowd about 15 minutes too early. Awkward. He later told Trump that seeing $275,000 come in for his charity had rattled him. That’s a good spin on a bad problem. Anyway, this slip up happened at a swanky event to launch Rich’s campaign for 7Up Retro, and he covered up his mistake by “vamping” and playing an original song called “Don’t Fire Me, Mr. Trump.” Eventually, Rich introduced Def Leppard again, and they came out and did their hits “Demolition Man,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Rock of Ages” as if they had guns to their heads. In fact, I’ll bet after that gig, the band told their tour manager, “You’re fired.” Rich spent the episode going up against actress Marlee Matlin and her team with the task of marketing a new/old kind of 7Up. Matlin had a secret weapon, though, Geoffrey Holder. He is the original spokesvoice — the heavily accented, deep-voiced man from Trinidad — from the brand’s Uncola heyday in the ’70s. So that was a nice touch. By the end of the show, after everything had been rehashed to death, Trump elicited opinions from the ex-contestants on who they’d hire and/or fire. Five chose Rich as the winner. But then Trump had his own decision to make. (I have Donald Trump all figured out, by the way. He’s like the head of the mean girls’ group in high school. He instigates fights, he’s fake, he’s conceited, he drags out drama and he’s made a living out of running a popularity contest.) Trump ultimately chose Rich over Matlin. Now, that doesn’t mean that Rich goes to work for Trump, like the winner of the old Apprentice show did. It just means he gets to give $250,000 to his charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. And it also meant he was able to give himself a pat on the back. “I did not come here to hit a home run,” Rich says in his final plea to Trump. “I came here to hit a grand slam.” Boy, did he ever.

View photos from the finale of Celebrity Apprentice.
Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.