After what has been a difficult few months for Bret Michaels following several health scares, the Poison frontman came out on top as the winner of this season's "Celebrity Apprentice." The show's "boss," Donald Trump, explained that it was Michaels' "amazing" creativity and imagination that brought him to the finals, noting that Michaels has "a lot of guts" after battling a brain hemorrhage last month and a warning stroke last week to appear at the live finale of the show.
The rocker faced off against fellow finalist Holly Robinson Peete, who was competing on behalf of her charity, the HollyRod Foundation, for autism. Michaels was working for the American Diabetes Association to raise awareness and funds for a disease he's suffered with since he was a child.
The cause became even more personal for Michaels, who had learned that his daughter, Rain, who surprised him with a visit during his last task, is "borderline diabetic."
In their final competition, the contestants had to come up with a new Snapple tea flavor. Peete came up with "Compassion Berry" and Michaels with "Troparocka." Each finalist had to market their new Snapple flavors with a print ad and a TV commercial. The winner would win the coveted $250,000 prize his or her charity. But before the show went live, fans got to see how each of the campaigns turned out.
"Bret is tremendously creative," former show competitor Darryl Strawberry said in the pre-taped portion of the finale. While Michaels opted to make two commercials, Peete and her team focused on just one. The unfinished product didn't impress Trump's daughter and fellow judge, Ivanka.
"To become the Celebrity Apprentice, you need to be smart. You need to be driven and you need to have great hair," Trump joked before cutting back to the pre-taped segments of Peete and Michaels completing their final tasks. Although both Peete and Michaels worked down to the wire, Michaels, who had to work on his commercials down to the last minute without a script, said, "That's the story of my life: live without a script."
"Right before it's time to go up, my heart is kind if pounding. But I do know how to impress executives," Peete said in pre-taped footage before she made her presentation of her final product. Peete's comical spot showed Snapple scientists as they invented Compassion Berry flavored Snapple.
"As a rock singer and performer, you riff off the energy in the room. When you're given a microphone and asked to talk about a brand ... a whole different animal for me," Michaels said about his commercial, a fast-paced, comical clip featuring Strawberry.
In the final boardroom, Michaels and Peete sat down to discuss their task with Trump. Michaels defended his decision to make a diet, sugar-free drink, explaining that the drink is a fitting one for diabetics. Peete, meanwhile, had to defend her choice not to use any of her celebrity pals in her commercial, saying she wanted the focus to be on the charity. In the boardroom,
Trump seemed to favor several of Peete's decisions for her campaign, though he seemed pretty even-keeled in his feelings about both campaigns.
Trump pressed former contestant Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders about who she wanted to see win. She flip-flopped her way through the conversation, reluctant to choose, but noted she wouldn't mind if Michaels won.
In the finale's last half hour, both Peete and Michaels joined their past "Apprentice" contestants on the stage live. Wearing his signature bandana, a vest, jeans and a dress shirt, Michaels graced the stage with his characteristic good spirits, saying, "Let's have some fun."
Trump asked Peete why she was crying after Michaels entered. "Well, I mean, who in America isn't [crying]?" she responded.
The conversation quickly turned to Michaels' condition. He explained, "They did a great job. I was really fortunate. We reacted quickly. Great medical team and good people and I cannot thank you and your family [enough] for all the well wishes," he told Trump. "I've become like a medical experiment. Its been crazy for about a month and half. Yes it's been a risk, but I wanted to be here. I came to win and I'm glad to be on the show.
"Here's what I was going to say: She's playing the hotness card," Michaels joked about Peete's sparkly silver dress. "If it's sympathy [that helps me win,] I'll take it. I came here to win. I went in there to win and did everything you asked me to do. I will put my heart and soul into everything in the end. I did want to win but I didn't want to cut anybody's throats to do it. I always give everything I got 100 percent. I came here to win."
Peete, however, made her intentions clear that she too wanted to win. "Well a lot of people know or don't know that Bret and I became very close," she explained. "There's no animosity. We talked after every show. So when I heard [about his hospitalization], I was devastated, like we all were. I'm just overjoyed that he's here, and we all love you Bret. ... Yes, in a way, I feel like I lost my momentum. It's Bret mania. That said, I really do feel like I did a good job."
Moments before the winner was declared, it was announced that Snapple will match the grand prize, so both charities will get the $250,000 donation. But only one person can be named the Celebrity Apprentice. And this season's celebrity apprentice is survivor Bret Michaels.