Monday, April 15, 2013 | 2:09 p.m.
Donald Trump’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” started out on a high note for The Rio headliner Penn Jillette on Sunday night as he presented $40,000 of his winnings to Opportunity Village, his charity of choice here in Las Vegas.
But as the NBC show ended, viewers feared that he was about to be fired. Penn was on Gary Busey’s losing team in their task of creating a silent movie to promote Australian Gold suntan lotion. The Donald decided that the rival team led by country star Trace Adkins won the task with a better production and advertising message.
That left Gary to head for the boardroom with Penn and Stephen Baldwin, who directed the commercial. For a moment, it looked as if the real-estate mogul would fire our Rio headliner illusionist. But everybody agreed that Penn had done a great job, and, instead of the mercurial project leader Gary, it was Stephen, currently wrestling with the IRS over unpaid taxes, who had to go.
Incidentally, one of our favorite Miss America winners, Katie Stam from 2009 here at Planet Hollywood, was featured in the show as an Australian Gold model, and obviously Donald, who owns the rival Miss USA Pageant, couldn’t resist a dig at her, comparing her lips with contestant Lisa Rinna’s enhanced lips!
Penn is safe for yet another week and trying to earn more money for Opportunity Village. The thought occurs to me that it could be one of television’s two tallest competitors, Penn and Trace, in the finals. On Sunday back home here in Las Vegas, Penn joined with magic partner Teller as grand marshals of the annual Aid for AIDS of Nevada AIDS Walk at UNLV.
Next week, Poison rocker Brett Michaels returns as one of the boardroom advisers judging his former competition. Their task is to create an interactive travel expo for South African tourism. As the number of stars dwindles toward the finale, it becomes chaotic as one team project manager lets the concept get out of control, and the other team tries to work around a lame teammate.
I’ll leave you to guess who is who!
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Carnival lasts all year at the Rio. With a float occasionally passing overhead and dropping beads while feathered dancers fire up the gamblers below, the Rio tries to keep its 120,000-square foot casino jumping with excitement. Special Brazilian mixed-drinks are also served throughout the casino. The hotel suites tend to be larger than similar priced rooms on the Strip and many offer excellent views with floor to ceiling windows.
The Rio offers some quality shows like "Penn & Teller" and "Chippendales." Many come to the Rio for the nightlife at the VooDoo Lounge, located on the 51st floor, or McFadden's Irish Pub on the casino level.
Others come for a bit relaxation at the Rio Spa or pool area and still others come to shop at the hotel's 60,000 square feet of shops. In each of these endeavors, the Rio attempts to make the experience a bit more fun and spontaneous.
The Rio also offers guests a variety of dining choices from all-American food at the All-American Bar & Grille to Gaylord India Restaurant for something a little spicier and even Carnival World Buffet for the indecisive.