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Apprentice
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Randal and Rebecca seemed to respect and appreciate each other during the season, which made Randal's finale selfishness all the more baffling.
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 12/22/2005 9:11:08 AM ET 2005-12-22T14:11:08
COMMENTARY

Tonight’s “Apprentice” lesson should have been one in foreshadowing. During the entire “Apprentice 4” finale, one thing was clear: Donald Trump was going to hire both Randal and Rebecca as his newest employees.

Right before he made his decision, Trump praised both candidates, offering only faint criticism. In the final boardroom, George told Trump, “It’s no question, they’re both stars, and I think either one of them would be an excellent choice for the organization.”

And George was right. After their final boardroom appearance, Trump seemed like he was ready to hire both. Live in Lincoln Center, when he asked the two candidates to select the job they’d prefer to manage if hired, they each selected a different task: Randal wanted to work on expanding Trump’s bankrupt Atlantic City casinos, while Rebecca preferred to help develop a residential complex in New Jersey.

Everything was in place for Trump to conclude a season of mass firings (two here, four there, two more here) with a dual hiring.

“I based my company, and in fact, I based my whole life around really good people. It’s very important to me. This isn’t just a television show, this is about hiring somebody for a long period of time,” he said, confirming that he was ready to hire two very good people. But then our billionaire buddy surprised us.

“Rebecca, you’re outstanding. Randal, you’re hired,” Trump said.

The band struck up the “Apprentice” theme song and Randal leapt up, hugging his friends in the cast. How could this be? What about Rebecca? Then Trump called for Randal to return to the table repeatedly. Trump, ever the showman, was just trying to squeeze out a little bit more melodrama before the double-hiring.

At least, that’s the way it appeared.

“If you were me, would you hire Rebecca also?” he asked Randal, and we all knew what was coming next. After getting the nod from Randal, Donald Trump was going to make “Apprentice” history and hire Rebecca too.

Selfish when he could have been selfless
But then Randal, who’s perhaps played the game with more integrity than anyone else in four seasons of “The Apprentice,” and who earned the respect of basically every other candidate in the suite this season, surprised everyone.

“Mr. Trump, I firmly believe that this is ‘The Apprentice,’ that there is one and only one apprentice, and if you’re going to hire someone tonight, it should be one,” Randal said. “It’s not ‘The Apprenti,’ it’s ‘The Apprentice.’”

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For some reason, this impossibly lame and aggressively selfish argument convinced Trump, who kind of shrugged and said, “Okay, I’m going to leave it at that then. I think I could have been convinced, but you feel that’s the way it should be, I’m going to leave it that way.”

That audience booed, feeling as betrayed as Rebecca must have, and as Randal jogged to the end of the stage to wave at the crowd, he was facing a group that had lost some of their respect for him; their clapping and cheering was subdued, and boos were still audible.

Rebecca just shook Trump’s hand and said, “That’s unfortunate.”

And it was. Because yet again , Donald Trump made an arbitrary choice between two competent, talented individuals. Randal unquestionably should have been hired, but Rebecca should have as well. What Randal has in education, he lacks in foresight; what Rebecca has in competency and loyalty, she lacks in experience. They complemented each other well — and both fit in well with Trump.

With his three wins and no losses as project manager, and with his impressive education and work history, Randal has nearly always earned only praise from Trump. And with her aggressive loyalty and unflinching determination, Rebecca has proven herself to be a younger, female version of Trump, which has clearly impressed him. From the time she defended Toral in the boardroom, it was clear he was enamored with her.

Would Rebecca have made the same decision that Randal did? The world will never know, but those final, awkward moments, when Randal chose selfishness over selflessness, were the most dramatic in a bizarrely produced finale. We should be grateful that "Apprentice 2" finale host Regis Philbin was nowhere to be found, and that the two hours (not three) were relatively filled with actual content. But while the prerecorded episode stretched until nearly the end of the two hours, it was interrupted constantly by live segments, and accompanied by an announcer who sounded more like he was selling cars than narrating “The Apprentice 4”’s finale. (“Coming up, Randal’s got a solution, but will Donald Trump buy it?” the announcer said. “Coming up, at Rebecca’s comedy event, it turns out the joke’s on George!”)

During those prerecorded segments, Rebecca looked consistently more competent as she completed her final task. At least in the shots the editors chose to include, Randal often appeared surprised, baffled, and bewildered. But as she’s done most of the season, Rebecca never stopped smiling — even as she solved crises while hopping around on one foot, the product of a broken ankle she had for nearly the entire season.

Randal made a number of mistakes, starting with his failure to check the weather for his charity softball game. Apparently, the only degree Randal doesn’t have is one in meteorology. And when the rain came, he had no backup plan. “There should have been a contingency plan in place, and it just completely eluded me,” he said. “I banked on the fact that we’d get good weather, and that was really my oversight.”

Rebecca, on the other hand, planned an event that came off almost flawlessly. One of the biggest problems came when Donald Trump caused the comedy performance to start a half-hour early. “It is kind of humorous that out of all the things, Trump ended up being the biggest wildcard,” Rebecca said. More damningly, though, she also failed to raise a single dollar at the actual event for her charity, mostly because of pressure from Yahoo! executives, who didn’t want their clients to be harassed at their event.

Even Donald Trump, whose television show has essentially defined product placement and selling out to the highest bidder, was appalled. “In the meantime, Elizabeth Glaser, the foundation, got nothing,” he said during the final boardroom. “If I were Yahoo!, I would make a major contribution to the Elizabeth Glaser AIDS foundation.” That reaction led to some rather predictable damage control during the live finale; a Yahoo! executive stood up and told the audience that Yahoo! was donating $100,000 to be split between the two charities. All of Rebecca and Randal’s mistakes, though, were essentially trivial, which Donald Trump, Carolyn, and George all acknowledged.

This season, Trump famously hand-picked all of the 18 candidates (except one). Despite the fact that many of them turned out to be completely incompetent on the show (cough ToralMarkusJenniferMClayJenniferWAdam cough), he ended up with the two most impressive candidates he’s ever had. It’s just a shame that the one Donald Trump picked first was too selfish to recognize that.

Andy Dehnart is a writer and teacher who publishes reality blurred, a daily summary of reality TV news.  Since this story was published, he has written more on Randal's choice.

© 2013 msnbc.com.  Reprints

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