NEW YORK, May 23 (UPI) -- Country music star John Rich was declared the winner of "The Celebrity Apprentice" in New York.
Rich beat out actress Marlee Matlin for the honor Sunday night after they each designed new 7UP Retro soda cans, produced 30-second commercials and presented the entire campaign at a gala event.
Rich's designated charity will receive the $250,000 "Apprentice" top prize and will be added to the show's total charity earnings for the season of $3,120,852 -- the largest amount ever raised by any TV series, NBC said.
Rich raised $1,261,900 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, while Matlin, who is deaf, amassed $1,050,000 for the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
"John Rich clearly demonstrated that he has what it takes to be a winner," "Apprentice" producer and judge Donald Trump said. "As the new 'Celebrity Apprentice,' he represents all the qualities necessary to follow through and come out with very significant winnings for his charity. John was focused, motivated, smart and a good team player. We all know he's talented too. He proved he could maneuver his way into situations that were remarkably productive -- which was a benefit for everyone. I congratulate him on his win -- John's a star all the way."
"Today has been an unbelievable day!" Rich said Sunday. "I got Trump to put on a Stetson hat on national television and now I get to drive down to Memphis with a $250,000 check for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This entire experience has been for the kids and I'm so excited to raise money for this cause and help save lives. I want to congratulate Marlee Matlin on her outstanding performance on the show and the monies she raised for her charity. It's a great day for all of us."
When the series began March 6, Rich and Matlin's fellow contestants were Hope Dworaczyk, La Toya Jackson, Star Jones, NeNe Leakes, Lisa Rinna, Niki Taylor, Dionne Warwick, Gary Busey, Jose Canseco, David Cassidy, Richard Hatch, Lil Jon, Meat Loaf and Mark McGrath.