May 21, 2011 03:30 PM by Shayla Perry
From the beginning, fans of Celebrity Apprentice knew that country singer John Rich and Oscar-winning actress, Marlee Matlin, would both make it to the end of the NBC reality competition, and in a recent interview, the two finalists revealed that they too had a hunch they’d be facing one another in the finale. See what else the Apprentice contestants had to say about everything from their unspoken mutual respect to the musical collaboration that’s got Marlee catchin’ a fever — and the only prescription, is more cow bell!
As fans, most of us would be satisfied if either of the finalists took home the grand prize for their charity, but as we know, there can only be one. And though they each want to win, both John and Marlee agree that there’s no one else they’d rather lose to than each other.
“She’s just a great person,” says Rich of his opponent, Marlee Matlin. “And from the very beginning of Celebrity Apprentice, there was definitely a mutual respect from across the room between the two of us. Just an unspoken thing, it was hard to describe.
“But you could – it just was looks we would give each other every now and then that was just an understanding of, ‘We’re both here for our charities. We’re serious about this,’ and that we were going to, you know, we were going to compete all the way as far we could. It was always there, you could feel it in the air between the two of us.”
Marlee Matlin, who was up against Rich for more than one challenge in the competition, echoes that sentiment.
“I mean there was an instant and an immediate sense of respect. It was just about eye contact,” says the Oscar-winning actress. “I’m good at reading people’s faces, and the moment I looked at his eyes I knew that he was a formidable competitor.”
Another great competitor was rapper Lil Jon. Though they were already acquaintances before the show, audiences enjoyed watching the dynamic between “the Jonz” week after week, and according to both Backbone team members, it was something that fans needed to see.
“It did feel like a very important relationship,” says Rich. “Not only because Lil Jon and I are really great friends, but as an example to our two audiences that, you know, cowboys and rappers basically can get along and work hard for charities and break down some of those stereotypes.”
And for everyone wondering…. Yes, the Jonz have already joined forces in the studio.
“Lil John and I actually did record something together and it’s on a record that I’ve – there’s actually a record coming out right now called ‘Rich Rocks.’ And Lil Jon appears on that record as a guest artist and it’s a really cool thing.
“I’ve had a huge response from all the country fans that are really liking Lil Jon too. And from his side he tells me there’s a lot of his fans that are starting to, you know, look at my music. It’s just a great relationship all the way around.”
“I was supposed to be a backup singer, but my schedule wouldn’t [allow] it,” Marlee adds.
“That’s right, and tambourine and dancing too I thought,” says Rich.
“Actually I was supposed to be in charge of the cow bell,” laughed Matlin.
We’ve GOT to have more cow bell!
How can you not root for both of them?!
Find out which celeb will be hired when the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice airs tomorrow, May 22 at 9|8c on NBC.
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Photo credit: NBC