Chad here and Benefield is ready to breakdown this season of Celebrity Apprentice!  Now, you guys know that I have never been a fan of John Rich.  If you have ever tuned into The WBKR Waking Crew and caught one of my John Rich rants, you know that I refer to him as the Travelocity Gnome and give him grief for wearing full-length fur coats!  In fact, I remember cringing when I heard he was joining the latest cast of Celebrity Apprentice.  But you know what?  John Rich is THE MAN and I am eating a plate full of crow!

Celebrity Apprentice may be may FAVORITE show on television.  It's genius!  Take a dozen or so big-headed, egomaniacal celebrities and make them work together as teams to achieve tasks and raise money for charity!  You would think, that because of the charitable involvement, that these celebs would check their egos at the door, right?  Wrong!  Dionne Warwick, anyone?  (Who knew she was Cruella Deville?)

But, in this season full of crazies (Gary Busey, Dionne, Star Hitler-Jones, and Jose Conseco . . . just to name a few of the folks who have flown over the cuckoo's nest), John Rich has established himself as the "man to beat!"  He's down to Earth, hard-working, smart, clever and dedicated to raising a behind-load of money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. 

Last night, John was the project-manager for the men's team in a challenge that required them to create original artwork to be auctioned off for charity!  Rich put all of his money where his mouth is.  He called his Nashville buddies, asked them for big bundles of cash and they came through BIG TIME!!  John rallied his team, expressed to them how important it was to raise cash for his charity and they did.  When it was all said and done, John Rich's team earned over $600,000 in ONE Celebrity Apprentice challenge!!  That is amazing and unprecedented.

Normally, with that kind of haul, the boardroom result would have been a predictable snoozefest.  But, John Rich met his match on the women's team.  She is Marlee Matlin, who, as project-manager on the ladies' side, outgunned John in the fundraising and was just $14,000 short of raising one million dollars!  ONE MILLION DOLLARS!  In ONE challenge!  Also amazing and unprecedented!

Yes, the celebrities have HUGE egos.  Yes, they butt heads.  Yes, sometimes they even want to physically harm each other (I highly suggest checking out Meatloaf's near execution of Gary Busey!  Hilarious, yet bordering on the verge of an episode of CSI: New York ).  But, at the end of the day, each one is working on behalf of a charity near and dear to his/her heart!  And John Rich is right there with them.  In fact, in many aspects, he's leading the way with intellect, passion, commitment and common sense.

I am now a John Rich fan.  Yes, there!  I said it!  I love John Rich.  It's out there!  From my lips to your ears!  Yada yada yada!  Watching him fight back tears last night as he received a check for just under $500,000 was touching and powerful.  Watching him interact with St. Jude patient Colin (you guys may remember him from our radiothon??), was touching and powerful.  In this latest Apprentice task, John Rich really was "Lost In The Moment."  He is proof that COUNTRY CARES and he's made a believer out of me.  

A couple of seasons ago, Trace Adkins made country music proud when he made the final of Celebrity Apprentice.  Remember, though, he was ultimately beaten by Piers Morgan in the last challenge.  But "country has come to town" again and John Rich has taken New York City by storm.    He has what it takes to be the Celebrity Apprentice and, make no mistake, he's gonna fight like hell to get the title. 

Just a few weeks into the new season, there are still ten or so celebrities left in the running.  I suppose you could say that, at this point, John Rich is stuck somewhere "Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace."  But, it's amazing grace that John Rich is showing each and every Sunday night on Celebrity Apprentice.  And, for that, he's THE MAN!