anne mikolay 2012 120If you are a fan of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice program, you already know this year’s winner is Matt Iseman, host of American Ninja Warrior. As one of the two finalists in the competition, Iseman faced off against the popular musical icon, Boy George. Both were stellar contestants, but in the final challenge, Team Matt raised $573,329 for Iseman’s charity (Arthritis Foundation), beating out Team Boy George, which pulled in $445,925 for George’s charity (Safe Kids Worldwide). While viewers agree Matt Iseman performed well all season and ultimately deserved the win, the general consensus on the internet is that George O’Dowd was robbed.

“Robbed of what?” you ask. Certainly not the Celebrity Apprentice Title. Matt Iseman won fair and square. The competition is, after all, a numbers game. Money plays a huge factor in this NBC production, as does charisma, which Iseman has in spades. Indeed, his infectious enthusiasm for his tasks (Harry Potter!) transformed him from the least well known candidate to a definite force to be reckoned with. Nobody defines charm, however, like cultural icon George O’Dowd, who has risen above his former troubles with grace and affability. In the final boardroom, when Boy George heard the winning tally and immediately reached out to shake Iseman’s hand and congratulate him on a job well done, you knew he meant it. It wasn’t a “be nice for the camera” moment; rather, it was a gesture of good sportsmanship, something not granted to Boy George in the end. Matt Iseman was proclaimed the winner; I blinked; Boy George was gone, effectively dismissed, not to be seen or heard from again.

Celebrity Apprentice never strays from its formula: contestants are given a task; a team project manager is assigned; the task is completed; participants wind up in the boardroom where someone wins and someone is fired; the fired contestant is seen leaving and commenting briefly on his/her fate. This season, for the first time, The Apprentice veered from this formula. Every Boy George supporter in the viewing audience wanted and expected to hear George’s response to his loss, but producers disappointingly chose George as the one and only celebrity contestant not granted the opportunity to speak. Viewers didn’t see George escorted to “the chopper” or hear his commentary, which without a doubt, would have been gracious and self-deprecating.

With Boy George gone, Matt Iseman joined the supporting team players for victory champaign. Again, Boy George was absent, presumably flying away in “the chopper”. Why wasn’t he included in the celebration? Boy George was an outstanding participant all season long, winning as project manager more than once, lending his creative talents to all tasks and sharing his humor with all. Allegedly, both finalists are winners, though only one “wears the crown”. As a winner, and certainly as someone who charmed the audience and probably won himself legions of new fans, Boy George should have been included in the champagne toast. He had every right to be there. He earned his place. Excluding him was a definite disrespectful oversight by Celebrity Apprentice producers.

In the end, Matt Iseman got what he deserved: the Celebrity Apprentice title. Boy George did NOT get what he deserved: recognition, a chance to be heard, respect. George O’Dowd was robbed.