Celebrity Apprentice 2022 winner crowned: Benji Marshall beats Darren McMullen

Celebrity Apprentice 2022 winner crowned: Benji Marshall beats Darren McMullen

In the nailbiting grand finale showdown between Darren McMullen and Benji Marshall, a major risk saw a surprise winner announced.

The winner of Celebrity Apprentice 2022 has been crowned.

In a nailbiting grand finale on Tuesday night, an emotional Benji Marshall was announced as the biggest fundraiser by Lord Alan Sugar, beating TV presenter and actor Darren McMullen to the top prize.

At their final events – which saw both contestants make a final push for fundraising for their chosen charities – Marshall raked in a whopping $387,105, compared with McMullen’s $172,617.

The former NRL star was given an additional $100,000 in prize money, which was all pledged for Souths Cares.

Closely affiliated with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, it supports disadvantaged and marginalized youth and their families through education, training, health and employment.

During the grand finale, the two finalists were given just one day to pull together a major fundraising event.

Marshall took a huge risk and threw a free concert – a decision that he was advised against – but it was a gamble which ultimately paid off.

“Listen, Benji, you came in here as an ex-football player one year on and you’re already back in a final. So the theme of your event was ‘dream big’,” Lord Sugar said to him, before the winner was announced.

“The reason why I love being involved with this charity is the kids remind me of me when I was a kid. I feel very connected to them,’” Marshall replied.

“The biggest thing I wanted to get out of this event was to an inspire kids to dream as big as you want. Believe in yourself, work hard and you’ll be surprised at what can happen.”

“But you had three opportunities to raise money. And the first one was obviously the sponsorship. The second one was merchandise. The last one was ticket sales, and I was so impressed that you had thousands of dollars worth of merchandise sitting there. And then you just gave it away,” Lord Sugar pointed out.

Marshall agreed it may have been a mistake, but said he couldn’t help it.

“To be fair, I probably took a lot of bad business decisions in terms of I could have raised more money, but I just could have missed this opportunity to give her kids stuff for free,” he said.

Meanwhile, McMullen leaned into a “magic” theme to coincide with his chosen charity, Feel the Magic, which provides early intervention grief education programs for kids aged seven to 17.

“I felt that it would be good to lean into the whole magical element of it and put on a magic extravaganza on an island, have acrobats, magicians, a band playing ethereal and magical music, celebrity chefs, and, uh, people with lots of money. That was the plan,” he told the boardroom.

“I hope your magicians were much better than me, because I’ve been trying to make you disappear for ages,” Lord Sugar said, in a cheeky dig at the pair’s explosive clash during the previous episode. “Now what happened to your black book?”

McMullen admitted that he’d been “bogged down” in the “logistics” of planning the event.

“I couldn’t do what I was great at, which is getting black book contacts and raising money,” he said. “Yeah. So ultimately I certainly tried my best, but, um, there was a lot of phone calls not answered.”

McMullen also spoke about his passion for mental health initiatives, which inspired his charity choice.

“Mental health has been a big part of my life. I’ve had friends who died early, leaving young children. I’ve had my family who have lost parents early and I’ve seen the repercussions that’s had on them. Finding their dads dead and having to try and resuscitate them,” he said.

“That was my, my cousin, you know, my uncle. And he went down the road that a lot of people go down and that is substance abuse and mental health issues. And it’s just, it’s really important to me. I think that we can nip that in the bud early. And they are the only charity in Australia that looks after grieving children.”

However, Marshall was ultimately declared the winner.

“Benji, I am delighted to say that you are the winner of Celebrity Apprentice. With the additional $100,000, you have raised $487,105 that’s a lotta-lotta money,” Lord Alan Sugar told him.

“Well done, that’s going to do a lot of good.”

“Who would have thought, just a washed-up footy player winning Celebrity Apprentice?” an emotional Marshall responded.

“We raised over half a million dollars.”

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