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Image: Bret Michaels, Holly Robinson Peete
Bret Michaels faced off against Holly Robinson Peete, right, to win the title of, "The Celebrity Apprentice."
updated 5/23/2010 11:13:54 PM ET 2010-05-24T03:13:54

Bret Michaels made it to the finish line Sunday of "The Celebrity Apprentice" despite life-threatening illness and was rewarded with victory and $250,000 for charity.

"You've done an amazing job in every single way," Donald Trump said before announcing his choice on a live segment of NBC's reality show. "A little flaky, but that's OK. ... You've also proven ... to be very brave. I appreciate that."

The other finalist, actress Holly Robinson Peete, has been "amazing," Trump said, and then rendered his decision.

"Holly, I have to tell you, we all love you. And Brett, I have to tell you — you're hired," Trump pronounced, drawing a lusty "whoop" from Michaels.

Michaels' appearance on the finale, which included live and taped segments, had been in question after he suffered a brain hemorrhage in April and was hospitalized again recently after suffering what doctors called a warning stroke. He faces surgery for a hole in his heart.

Trump didn't downplay the drama involving Michaels' health, asking the 47-year-old rock star of Poison fame if he was risking his life by coming on the finale against his doctors' advice.

"Lately it seems like me just standing me up is risking my life," Michaels replied, lightly, adding that it was worth the risk and he "came to win." He walked haltingly and with a slight limp.

His presence brought a moment of honest reality to a carefully constructed TV genre.

Robinson Peete, 45, said she and Michaels had become close during the series and there would be none of last season's animosity — a reference to finale fireworks between winner Joan Rivers and runner-up Annie Duke.

Robinson Peete teared up when she and Michaels took the stage before a studio audience in New York.

"Holly, that's so beautiful. You're crying," Trump observed.

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"Well, I mean, who in America isn't?" she replied. Trump said that he'd never cried for his opponent.

"My 5-year-old son woke up this morning and said, 'Mom, I love you, but I'm kinda pulling for Bret.' How do you beat that?" Robinson Peete responded.

Both celebrities, who were playing to raise money for their favored causes, came out on top. Michaels, who as a child was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, claimed the winner's prize for the American Diabetes Association, and Peete learned that her charitable group would receive a matching amount.

Trump said the maker of Snapple beverages had agreed to give a matching $250,000 to HollyRod Foundation, whose mission is to support families who have a loved one with a serious medical condition. The actress has a son diagnosed as autistic.

The final challenge for "The Celebrity Apprentice" had required Michaels and Robinson Peete to each create a new flavor of Snapple and a marketing campaign for the soft drinks. Their versions are being sold for a limited period and highlight work their causes.

This season of "Celebrity Apprentice" began airing in March with 14 contestants, each competing in business-oriented tasks around Manhattan to raise money for and publicize their favorite causes.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Bret Michaels

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  1. Just happy to be here

    Bret Michaels attends the "Celebrity Apprentice" Season 3 finale after party at Trump SoHo in New York on Sunday, May 23. (Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Get a job!

    Michaels, left, celebrates after being "hired" by Donald Trump, as Holly Robinson Peete looks on during the finale of "Celebrity Apprentice" on Sunday, May 23. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Business class

    Michaels is shown fourth from right as part of the cast of Donald Trump's latest "Celebrity Apprentice." The rocker, 47, was in critical condition on April 26 after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Trump, center in red tie, issued a statement that he was "deeply saddened" to hear of Michael's medical condition. "He's a great competitor and champion," Trump said, "and I hope he will be fine." (Mitch Haaseth / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Work it out

    Michaels, left, and former Olympian Michael Johnson are seen in an episode of "Celebrity Apprentice." (Ali Goldstein / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Watch your head!

    Michaels, center, performs with former Poison bandmates C.C. DeVille, left, and Bobby Dall right, at the Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York on June 7, 2009. Michaels was hit in the face with a set piece during the performance. (Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Straight off the bus

    Michaels performs during the kickoff of the "Rock of Love Bus Tour" at The Pearl concert theater at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas on Jan. 31, 2009. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. He wants to be their rock

    Michaels was the center of attention on the VH1 series "Rock of Love," where women competed for the affection of the musician turned reality star. (Scott Odgers / VH1) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Oh, that old trick

    Michaels busts out the guitar for the contestants on the first season of "Rock of Love." (Scott Odgers / VH1) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Story of their lives?

    Michaels, left, and Rikki Rockett of Poison attend the premiere of the film "Rock Star" in Westwood, Calif., on Sept. 4, 2001. (Vince Bucci / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Familiar script

    Pamela Anderson, right, dated Michaels in 1993-94. A version of a sex tape the couple made appeared on the Internet and was released on DVD in 2005 before Michaels stopped it from being distributed. Anderson also famously starred in another tape with her rocker husband Tommy Lee of Motley Crue. (S. Granitz / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. All about the hair

    The members of Poison, from left, C.C. Deville, Michaels, Bobby Dall and Rikki Rockett, attend the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 1987. The band was at the forefront of the glam metal scene and the album "Open Up and Say ... Ahh!" was a multi-platinum seller. (Lennox Mclendon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Take your Poison

    Michaels, center, and guitarist Bobby Dall prance on stage during a 1987 concert at the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif. (George Rose / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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