The brand new season of Celebrity Apprentice has had an emotional start with Sunday's premiere, which saw Nova 96.9's Michael 'Wippa' Wipfli secure a huge win for his chosen charity.
Wippa, 41, and his team, 'Fun-raisers,' emerged victorious from the nail-biting silent auction to collect a whopping $180,000 for the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation.
'Couldn't believe it'
Viewers watched as billionaire CEO and host Lord Alan Sugar announced the win to a clearly stunned Wippa who whispered his thanks and left the boardroom to cheers from his team.
"It meant the absolute world," he tells Yahoo Lifestyle in an exclusive chat.
"When I was sitting in the boardroom, I just couldn't believe it.
"I wanted more than anything in the world and it'll go down as one of the great days in my life. It was just so important to me to win that money for the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation."
The foundation is named for the junior elite athlete Cooper Rice-Brading, who passed away from an aggressive and rare osteosarcoma (bone cancer) aged just 17.
Dad-of-three Wippa got to know Cooper — a "very bright and brave boy" — and his family personally after meeting at Nova so the win was extra special.
Wippa believes that the young man, who sadly passed away in August 2017, may have had something to do with him ending up on Celebrity Apprentice in the first place.
He recalls chatting with Cooper about his strong interest in media and his aspirations of becoming a sports journalist, with the teen frequently urging CRBF ambassador Wippa to 'do more TV' to raise awareness.
"So when the [Celebrity Apprentice] opportunity arose, it was almost like Cooper was playing puppet master up there, looking down and sending me in to do my best," Wippa explains.
'Winner takes all'
Wippa describes the auction in episode one as a 'winner takes all' situation where there was a lot at stake.
If the Fun-raisers hadn't secured a high enough bid on their items, which included a plaster cast of Wippa's 'dad bod', the funds would go to the leader of rival team 'Momentum,' interior design star Shaynna Blaze's charity, Voice of Change.
"I was just panicking, [Momentum] got a huge amount for the guitar signed by The Veronicas, and I thought, 'My god, are we in with a shot here or are we cooked?'" he says.
"It's so intense when you're ringing people, companies and individuals, saying, 'Hey can you donate?' but at the same time, 'If I don't win your money goes to someone else's charity'," he adds.
In the end, it was Wippa who was the winner, scooping over $180k for a cause very close to his heart.
Celebrity Apprentice Australia airs Sunday, Monday and Tuesday on Channel Nine.
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