Donald Trump made two big announcements during The Celebrity Apprentice season 7 finale. At the end of the night, he declared Leeza Gibbons the winner over Geraldo Rivera, but he also revealed that the show is being renewed for a 15th season (which will be the eighth celebrity edition).

The Apprentice returned this year after an almost two-year absence from the NBC schedule. Low ratings were likely to blame for the long delay, but the network did renew the series, so it was only a matter of time before the show would return. NBC ended up airing season 8 in The Voice timeslot between seasons of the singing competition show, and aired two episodes back to back every week so that it would conclude in time for The Voice premiere.

When season 8 premiered on January 4, 6.8 million viewers tuned in, an increase of 31% over the previous premiere episode in 2013. The finale drew in 6 million viewers, which was up 13% over the season 8 finale. (That episode marked a new low in the ratings for the series.)

When Trump made the renewal announcement during the finale, he pointed out that he would take his time with the new season, which sounds like he’s not guaranteeing the show will be back anytime soon. It’s all up to NBC and how they want to fit it into the schedule — airing it between seasons of The Voice as they did with season 8 seems to have worked out just fine, so maybe they’ll go that route again.

The Celebrity Apprentice Season 7 Finale Recap: And the Winner Is… >>>

Regarding the newly-crowned winner Leeza Gibbons, Trump said in a statement, “We had an incredible season and an incredible set of players this year. However, out of the 16 contestants, Leeza clearly demonstrated that she had the ultimate skills necessary to be called the next Celebrity Apprentice.”

He went on to say, “The Celebrity Apprentice has proven time and time again to be the toughest reality show on television today. Leeza was able to win $714,000 for her charity, Leeza’s Care Connection. I congratulate Leeza on her win and welcome her as the second woman to the elite group of winners including Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers, Bret Michaels, John Rich, Arsenio Hall and Trace Adkins. I’d also like to congratulate Geraldo on his tremendous effort and impressive game play.”

Leeza’s Care Connection is a charity that helps the family members (caregivers) of those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s and other diseases. Regarding her charity, Leeza said, “Mom always told me to stay in my lane and focus on my own race. That’s what I tried to do. My goal was simply to show the kind of strength my mother had as she battled Alzheimer’s disease and to honor those families who are care-giving. I hope I did. With my winnings from the show, Donald Trump has made it possible for me to open a new Leeza’s Care Connection in my hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.”

Overall, $15 million has been raised for various charities over the course of The Celebrity Apprentice, with $2 million coming from season 8 alone.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.