We kind of felt this one coming.
There was somewhat of a running theme on the Celebrity Apprentice this season that Annie Duke was "just a poker player." Yeah, she may be pwning the competition every week, but look what she does for a living. It's a deceitful way to make a living so of course she's good. Plus she's nowhere near the "celebrity" of some of the other contestants. So would Donald Trump really make his final "hire" a poker player instead of arguably the biggest celebrity name he had on the show?
Nope. In the end, as expected, Trump awarded this season's Celebrity Apprentice (title? hire?) to Joan Rivers instead of Annie Duke.
Before watching the finale (having determined that Rivers was going to win no matter what), we were originally going to make the headline of this post, "Annie Duke Andy Blochs The Celebrity Apprentice, Finishes Second."And believe it or not, the headline wasn't going to be a shot at either them. At the inaugural $50k H.O.R.S.E. event, Bloch outplayed Chip Reese heads-up. Straight-up outplayed Chip and outplayed the field leading up to the heads-up showdown. It was similar to how Annie outplayed everyone on the Celebrity Apprentice. In the end though, it wasn't meant to be for Bloch. Chip consistently got his money in with the worst of it, but kept winning hand after hand. Fate just wasn't going to let Andy win that tournament. We figured the same thing was going to be true here, as "fate" (NBC/Donald Trump) wouldn't let Annie triumph.
However, that wasn't so much the case last night, because Joan won the final challenge by taking 3 of the 5 criteria being judged. She wisely picked Herschel Walker (DAWGS…everybody knows you've got to give Herschel Walker the ball) as the first person to join her team, leaving Melissa Rivers, who there was no way Annie was choosing, on the bench while Annie picked Brande Roderick first, who there was no way Joan was choosing. Ultimately that move left Joan with a better overall team, particularly because two of Herschel's ideas were critical to Joan's overall win.
It was a tactical error on Annie's part for sure. Bottomline is bottomline, and despite some controversy caused by Joan with the event planning firm, Joan won 3 of the 5 criteria in the final challenge. Surprisingly, little was made in the boardroom though of the fact that Joan's behavior was the cause for the event planning company to quit on both teams. It's fair to assume that, from the sounds of it, Annie's decor would've topped Joan's for the silent auction before the firm quit. Had that happened, Annie would've won 3 of the 5 criteria. And all the evidence was on TV for everyone to see that Joan was the cause of the firm quitting. However, she denied it (despite millions of people having just watched it unfold), and Trump didn't seem to really care. Joan once again acted like a spoiled 10 year-old brat when Annie very calmly tried pointing this all out, but again, Joan was never put in her place by Donald for her behavior. Annie very smartly told Trump that Joan's boardroom remarks throughout the season would have gotten her immediately fired in any other company (shown above(, and again, Trump just kind of brushed it off. The result just seemed predetermined.
Interestingly, with the exception of when she was skillfully pleading her case to win (the above clip again), Annie wore defeat on her face the entire final two boardrooms (the task one and the live one) as if she knew this as well. So it was surprising to see that, for a split second, she actually thought she won as Donald addressed her in the final seconds of the show. But Trump ultimately dropped the ax on her, and gave Joan Rivers (pictured here) the non-existent job.
Not sure how we feel about all of this. If judging on the strength of her play throughout the season, Annie definitely deserved to win. However, Joan did capture the final challenge, even though her bad behavior in causing the event planning group to quit might've swung that last project to her favor.
Amazingly in all of this, Joan somehow still seemed to have the overwhelming support of Internet posters, critics, casual fans, and the live audience. Her general behavior throughout the season was despicable. She was constantly condescending to Annie and to the poker community in general, telling Duke tonight repeatedly that she was "beneath" her. She got away with verbal murder all season, and Trump never had the balls to call her out on it and put a stop to it. Yeah, it was good for ratings. We get that. But to never make a mention of it is pretty pathetic, especially at the end when making his final decision.
It'll be hard for the Celebrity Apprentice to top this season in terms of drama and interest again. Unless, of course, they take Daniel Negreanu up on his offer to join the show. If they do, count us in on watching it again. If not, and we've said this before, but this time we're really done with the show.
UPDATE: The event planner, David Tutera, confirms Annie was telling the truth and that Rivers is "a monster." Read here.