‘Celebrity Apprentice’ Champ Leeza Gibbons on Her Winning Strategy: ‘You Don’t Have to Compromise Who You Are’

Gibbons dishes on how she kept her cool, while runner-up Geraldo Rivera explains his bumpy road to the finale

NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” winner Leeza Gibbons and runner-up Geraldo Rivera played the game very differently in the 14th season of the reality competition series.

Gibbons credits her victory to staying true to herself and help from husband, Steven Fenton.

“People say, ‘You were so patient, and you kept your cool.’ He [Fenton] was the place I could decompress after all the insanity and a safe spot to let it all go. He was that late night phone call of, ‘Oh my gosh, you won’t believe what happened today!'”

She added, “There’s a feeling that in general, to get to the top, people compromise or settle or sell a part of their soul. That’s not the way it goes … you don’t have to compromise who you are by the way you play the game.”

But runner-up Rivera had a more bumpy road to reaching the finale than his well-liked competitor.

“I, on the other hand, had a bare-knuckle brawl with my rambunctious bunch. When I started with men against women, [the men] got together to conspire to get me off the program, and they perceived me to be the strongest competitor. It was war from day one,” Rivera joked.

On Monday’s finale, Gibbons won roughly $500,000 for her charity Leeza’s Care Connection, an organization that provides a gathering place, resource center and support system for caregivers of people with memory disorders, chronic or progressive illnesses. Meanwhile, Rivera’s brash strategy earned him $724,000 for Life’s WORC charity, which supports the severely autistic.

Despite their profitable successes, Gibbons and Rivera expressed hesitation on returning to compete again.

“Given the reality that [Donald] Trump fired someone who won, I say no,” Gibbons said jokingly. The Emmy Award-winning journalist and former talk show host was referring to winner and Poison frontman Bret Michaels who was fired first in the series’ recent “All-Star” edition.

But Gibbons didn’t close the door on rejoining host Donald Trump in the board room. “I would come back as an adviser,” she said.

As for Rivera, he’s open to returning under certain conditions.

“Maybe if it was ‘All-Star’… but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I have two other jobs,” Rivera said, who juggles hosting and being a regular contributor on Fox News. “It was very difficult to squeeze such a big budget into a very busy life. You need to be thoughtful, attentive and it’s like being in business doing this show.”

At series conclusion, Trump announced NBC renewed the competition series for a 15th season, TheWrap previously reported. 

Watch below as Trump announces Gibbons as the winner: