As country music superstar John Rich and Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin prepare to do battle on the Celebrity Apprentice finale this Sunday, both stress that no matter what the outcome, they both walk away big winners for the work they've put in all season.
"If I don't win, the first thing I'm going to do is start clapping furiously for Marlee Matlin," Rich tells TV Guide Magazine. "It's a horse race, but what a worthy competitor."
In a women's team dominated by big egos and bigger catfights, Matlin remained drama-free and raised one million dollars in one task for her charity, the Starkey Hearing Foundation. "I just decided that it was important for me to deal with stressful situations in a different fashion," says Matlin. "I tried to be a peacemaker, but I didn't want to waste my energy on ridiculous little arguments."
Rich, who's playing for St. Jude Children's Hospital, also served as a rock on the men's team, navigating tricky personalities and off-the-wall ideas. "Somebody had to keep the focus, and I just always tried to focus on the fact that little kids with cancer were going to be watching the show back in Memphis. They're going to see and hear everything I do. You're not there representing yourself, you're representing your charity. It's not about you."
As to who was the hardest teammate to manage, Matlin says Meat Loaf's emotions sometimes got the best of him and limited his focus in stressful situations. "It surprised me," admits Matlin. "He has this image of being this powerhouse, but it really doesn't matter at the end of the day because he's a person who cares. But at some point you needed to put a lid on it."
Rich might have found an unlikely buddy in this season's most talked about contestant, Gary Busey. After working through Busey's eccentricities, Rich says the two have become unlikely friends with the possibility of a collaboration in the future. "Gary was over at my house last weekend smoking a cigar watching the last episode because he's in Nashville writing his country album right now," reveals Rich. "I'll be the first in line to hear that thing. But if he asks me to help him, I'll write a song with Gary Busey!"
Celebrity Apprentice airs Sunday at 9/8c on NBC.