Not-so-calm and not-so-collected Bill Rancic took the top prize on Thursday night's "The Apprentice" finale.
In the last minutes of a long two-hour episode of NBC's reality hit, Donald Trump hired the 32-year-old Internet entrepreneur over the far more sedate finalist Kwame Jackson. Rancic's high energy and anxiety may have distressed his workers during his final task of running a golf tournament, but Trump ultimately preferred it to Jackson's passive management style.
"Kwame, I think you have an amazing future," Trump said. "You're a brilliant guy, great education, and I have no doubt you're going to be a big success. But right now, Bill, you're hired."
Naturally, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth played a significant role Thursday night. A diva until the end, she put a few kinks into Jackson's final task of running a Jessica Simpson concert at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. At one point, the show's villain lost track of Simpson's whereabouts; at another, she left Jackson in the lurch as she happily camped in costume in Simpson's hotel room. When making his hiring decision, Trump faulted Jackson for putting Omarosa on his team in the first place, and for not firing her later.
Always the tough-love mentor, Trump made Rancic instantly decide between two jobs in his company. Rancic could oversee operations on the construction of either a new Trump tower in Chicago or a new golf club resort in Los Angeles. Of course, the Chicago native chose the skyscraper gig; Trump most likely made the LA offer simply to promote the project on national television. All season long, "The Apprentice," which was produced by Trump and Mark Burnett of "Survivor," has been filled with splashy promotion for Trump's businesses, including the Taj Mahal and the Trump Tower.
Trump also gave Rancic a new convertible, which is made by the show's much-promoted sponsor.
At one point, Thursday night's episode turned into a strange reality merge, as "The Apprentice" collided with MTV's "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica." The same Taj Mahal weekend -- filmed by a different set of cameras, from the point of view of Simpson and Lachey -- had appeared earlier this year on the couple's own reality show.
After Trump named Rancic the winner, he welcomed back former cast members for the airing of some reality-style dirty laundry. Telling Ereka Vetrini, "You've suffered," a reference to Omarosa's allegations that Vetrini once used a racial epithet during a fight, he let her vent. "She's a liar," Vetrini said of Omarosa, who was sitting next to her, "and I've known that for a long time."
Trump also inquired about the relationship between Nick Warnock and Amy Henry, calling it "the weakest romance I've ever seen." The pair said that they had dated only briefly after they had left the show, but that they remained friends.
We'll see what People magazine has to say about that.
During his short plug for the next season of "The Apprentice," which begins in the fall, Trump told us he might bring back some familiar faces.
Since no reality show is complete without a certified villain, I'm betting we'll see more of Omarosa in the boardroom.