Pinkett bested, Rebecca Jarvis, a 24-year-old financial journalist based in Chicago, the other finalist on the NBC reality show.
"Randal, you're an amazing leader," Trump said. "Rarely have I seen a leader as good as you, and you lead through niceness."
He concluded: "Rebecca, you're outstanding; Randal, you're hired."
As reward for outperforming all other 15 young entrepreneurs — this season "hand picked" by Trump — Pinkett wins a job at the Trump Organization with a "hefty six-figure salary."
For his project, Pinkett chose to work on casino expansions in Atlantic City, N.J. — rather than on the construction of a condominium in Jersey City, N.J.
Trump nearly threw a monkey wrench into Thursday's proceedings. After announcing the winner, he asked Pinkett if he should also hire Jarvis.
"I firmly believe this is `The Apprentice,'" Pinkett replied. "That there is one and only `Apprentice' and if you're going to hire someone tonight, it should be one."
Trump said he "could have been convinced," but opted to agree with Pinkett and "leave it at that."
The 2-hour finale, broadcast live from the Avery Fisher Hall in New York, showed clips of the final tasks, which both contestants appeared to succeed at.
Pinkett managed a fundraiser for Autism Speaks, sponsored by the Outback Steakhouse. He overcame a rained-out softball challenge to raise $11,000 by auction.
Jarvis ran a comedy benefit for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, put on by Yahoo! Inc (Nasdaq:YHOO - news). Though her event was well conducted, Jarvis chose not to directly appeal for money from attendees.
"The Apprentice" will return for a fifth season and already has plans to shoot a sixth season in Southern California — but it has slipped in the ratings. It has averaged about 10.7 million viewers a week, down several million from last season.
Trump has alluded to his series being diminished by the disappointing ratings of "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart." NBC earlier announced that spin-off will not return for a second season.