Apprentice triumph for 'vicious' Morgan

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The Independent Online

Piers Morgan proved he has lost none of the ruthlessness he displayed on Fleet Street by beating competition from 13 other celebrities to win the US final of The Celebrity Apprentice television show.

Throughout the three-month series he was described as "vicious" and "evil" but Morgan, who edited the News of the World at just 28 before taking the helm at the Daily Mirror, had the last laugh when he was crowned the winner and picked up a $250,000 (£125,000) donation to charity.

And, as well as winning the top prize, Morgan, who is best known in the States for his role as the mean judge on America's Got Talent, also raised a further $500,000 for his chosen charity – the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a charity supporting the armed forces and their families – by winning a host of tasks throughout the show.

Announcing him as the winner, the show's host Donald Trump told Morgan: "You're a vicious guy; I've seen it ... You're tough, you're smart, you're probably brilliant, I'm not sure, you're certainly not diplomatic but you did an amazing job and you beat the hell out of everybody."

But, as expected, not everyone stateside was happy with Morgan's victory, in which he saw off the American country singer Trace Adkins in the live final. Morgan's ruthlessness made him a target of hate for US audiences, who felt his extensive contacts book of British celebrities gave him an unfair advantage.

The 42-year-old was helped by the multimillionaire X Factor judge Simon Cowell, who bought a shopping trip with Trump's tall blonde daughter Ivanka for $100,000, and the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, who offered afternoon tea with her as an auction prize.

However, Morgan's supporters have said he was the victim of Apprentice spin-doctoring and was simply cast in the "evil" role, while the mild-mannered Adkins was awarded the part of hero. And in the final boardroom meeting, Morgan himself referred to this portrayal when he said of his rival Adkins: "He's an all-American hero. I'm an evil, obnoxious, disgusting Brit."

But despite his final battle being with Adkins, it was Morgan's earlier clashes with the reality television star Omarosa that had the viewers hooked. Their bust-ups became increasingly vicious and personal and Morgan said he considered quitting the show following an episode in which she repeatedly attacked his family and personal life. He stayed, however, and avoided hearing the show's trademark catchphrase: "You're fired."

Morgan became the youngest newspaper editor in Britain when he took charge of the News of the World. But a decade later, he was fired as editor of the Daily Mirror after he allowed publication of what appeared to be pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by members of the British Army. The photos were later revealed to be fakes.