When Donald Trump finally uttered the words "You're hired!" on last night's two-hour, partly live season finale of "The Apprentice," it basically came down to . . . Omarosa.
Yes, Omarosa, the one everyone else reviled, the one who has gotten more mileage out of her appearances on the show than any of the 15 other contestants vying to run one of Trump's companies for a $250,000 salary. The one who was fired weeks ago and left in tears, but has never really gone away.
Don't get us wrong: Omarosa didn't win or anything. There was no strange, last-minute twist. She just played the crucial role in Trump's final boardroom decision.
In the end, Chicago entrepreneur Bill Rancic beat out Harvard MBA Kwame Jackson to win the NBC reality show competition because Kwame didn't say the two little words that Trump has made famous these past 31/2months. When Omarosa lied to him during the final competition, sabotaging his team in the process, Kwame didn't tell her, "You're fired!"
"Omarosa lied to you," Trump said during the live portion of the program. "She deceived you. Not only once. She lied to you twice. Why didn't you fire her?"
Kwame said he needed a complete team to finish his task, but that answer didn't satisfy the Donald.
"You should have fired her," Trump said.
And that was it. Bill got the job -- actually, he got two job offers and chose the chance to run a hotel and tower in his home town of Chicago over the chance to run a golf resort in California. (No word yet on what the poor schlub who used to have the Chicago job will be doing now.)
Enough about Bill. We're really sorry, guy, but we need to get back to Omarosa.
After handing down his decision, Trump held a live interview with all the contestants and confronted Omarosa about her failings -- basically, her goofing around and lying led Kwame's team to, um, misplace pop star Jessica Simpson, on two occasions. Omarosa started in with a non-answer answer; Trump cut her off.
"You have too many excuses," he said. "Enough with the excuses!"
Anyway, here's the back story, for those five people out there who don't already know: The final contest pitted Kwame against Bill in a big-time competition. Kwame, so smooth and smart, came to the show straight from Goldman Sachs. His job: to run a Simpson concert and charity event in Atlantic City.
Bill took some flak for having only an undergraduate degree, but he also has his own successful cigar company. His job was to put together and run the Chrysler-Trump Golf Invitational in Westchester County.
Each contestant could choose a team to help him -- options included the last six apprentices to be fired by the Donald. And that's when Kwame made his major mistake. With two others still available, he picked Omarosa. Oops. He also got his buddy Troy and trash-talking Heidi. Bill took former front-runner Amy (axed last week after a bad series of interviews), Katrina and Amy's onetime boytoy, Nick.
Bill had his early issues once the tasks began: He found out that his tournament was going to have a frost delay, and he temporarily lost some of his advertising signage. He also didn't impress his team all that much, running around frantically, asking the same questions over and over (and annoying unflappable Amy, who described Bill as "frenzied"). When Trump suggested Bill was at risk of being "fired like a dog," you could tell he was not in the mind-set to take it lightly. (Note to the Donald: Yellow is not your color.) But the Donald's golf foursome won the tournament, which surely didn't sour Trump's impression of the day.
Kwame, meanwhile, was cool as could be, delegating most of the work, never showing much stress, looking like a born leader. But he, um, lost Jessica Simpson. Lost her. Twice. The first time, Omarosa got a call from a travel coordinator, didn't do what was requested (she finished her dinner instead) and then blatantly lied about the call when Simpson didn't show up on the flight.
"I was so confused I didn't know what to do, so I called my production manager because he was the only one I could get a hold of," Simpson explained after she was finally located. Ouch.
The next day, Troy apparently didn't follow up on breakfast arrangements, and there was nothing ready for poor Jessica to eat. Trump showed up at the casino to meet Simpson, but she was nowhere to be found. Again. Why? Omarosa, who was supposed to be in charge of her, was dressing up and playing around, her walkie-talkie in her bag, so Kwame couldn't reach her.
In the end, both Bill and Kwame did pull off successful events, but Kwame's fate had been sealed.
The first part of the final boardroom confrontation made Trump's thinking clear: He gave Kwame heat for picking Omarosa, and picking her early. In Trump's final consultation with his advisers, Carolyn and George, George backed Kwame nonetheless, but Carolyn was for Bill. Trump didn't really care. He called the two guys back in and hit Kwame with the boom. With 25 minutes still to go in the show (those last minutes taken up by Bill's job reveal and that group interview), the big question already had been answered.
Or had it?
Inquiring minds want to know: Did Omarosa throw the competition on purpose? And, if so, what's in it for her?
Oh, silly us. That's easy. More publicity!