ENTERTAINMENT

Geraldo Rivera 'Celebrity Apprentice' Diary: And Now There Are Two

Leeza Gibbons and Geraldo Rivera, on episode 1412.

Leeza Gibbons and Geraldo Rivera, on episode 1412.  (2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC.)

It has been a long and winding road, but after six weeks of taping, eight months of waiting and a month and a half of highly-rated, nail-biting, two-hour broadcasts, I’ve made it to the finals of “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Next week, on February 16th, the formidable talk show host and philanthropist Leeza Gibbons and I will face off in a live, two-hour show that promises to be as challenging and nerve-racking as the competition has been so far. Beginning with an eclectic collection of 16 strong personalities, we’ve been through back-stabbing, phone looting, clothes-shedding, shouting, crying, finger-pointing drama.

As we faded to black and teased next week’s huge live finale, the odds seemed to favor my rival Leeza who, despite her crew’s partial desertion, announced that she had landed Olivia Newton John to perform at the big gala.

- Geraldo Rivera

The breakneck pace of the program picked up last week with the “Monday Night Massacre” when our television boss Donald Trump went on a firing rampage that wiped out what was left of ‘Team Infinity’ the high-powered squad that Leeza had guided to five straight victories.

By that time, Leeza had mercifully been transferred to my ‘Team Vortex’ and helped us garner a long-needed victory. The task was to compose and present a jingle for Budweiser’s new wine coolers. We triumphed even as ‘Team Infinity’ collapsed and easily won the competition, which featured our rapping to my immortal line, “Nice over ice.”

After last night’s Golden Oldie moments from Celebrity Apprentice seasons past, our dear colleague, the feisty and hugely talented Vivica A. Fox graciously conceded that she could not match either Leeza’s skills as a producer or mine as a fundraiser. It was a humbling moment for both Leeza and me and we both love Vivica for bowing out with such grace.

The task for the finale began last night when Leeza and I were flown down to Universal Orlando Resort on board one of Donald Trump’s fleet of private jets.

Our task was to produce and shoot a new commercial for the theme park. At the same time, we were told that there would be a finale fundraising gala for which we would both be responsible not just to raise as much money as possible, but also provide the entertainment for the event.

Last night’s installment of the show began with the introduction of the teams brought together to help Leeza and I complete the complex task. It was like a class reunion. Her ‘Team Leeza’ was buttressed by fired celebrities Brandi Glanville, the fiery ‘Housewife of Beverly Hills’, baseball great Johnny Damon and my arch-nemesis former boy band guitarist Kevin Jonas. My squad consisted of the beautiful Vivica and the two actors who unsuccessfully conspired with Kevin to get me fired early on: Lorenzo Lamas and Ian Ziering.

After Universal executives briefed both teams about the parameters of the commercial they were looking for, we set out to plan our commercials. As presented on the program that aired last night, Leeza’s team had a rocky start when Brandi and Johnny wandered off to have hot dogs and beer as she and Kevin strived mightily to get their commercial scripted and cast.

As usual, distracted by the need to raise even more money than the almost $600,000 I had already brought in, the day of the commercial shoot arrived with many loose ends still unresolved.

I decided to be the front man for our spot, which emphasized the adventurous aspects of Universal and the need for kids to have courage to experience it fully. I decided to focus on the new Harry Potter theme park. But when the time to shoot the spot came, we discovered that no one had taken responsibility to get our child actors gathered where we needed them when we needed them. The episode ended with me charging off to find our crew, even as I muttered that from this point on I was taking full control of our production.

As we faded to black and teased next week’s huge live finale, the odds seemed to favor my rival Leeza who, despite her crew’s partial desertion, announced that she had landed Olivia Newton John to perform at the big gala.

I, on the other hand, had secured neither a performer nor enough donations to secure a victory. It will be a nervous week to see if I can come from behind to pull off a long shot.

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Geraldo Rivera currently serves as a roaming correspondent-at-large for Fox News Channel. He joined the network in 2001 as a war correspondent.

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