Watching a rerun of the Top Chef finale the other night, I noticed this disclaimer among the end credits:
"Winning and elimination decisions were made by the judges in consultation with producers. Some elimination decisions were discussed with Bravo."
I can't see how to interpret this except to mean that some of the decisions were based partly on who the producers or Bravo people thought would get the best ratings. "Keep the bitch and the egomaniac, the show will be too boring if everybody's nice."
A lot of the challenges were so stupid that it's almost beside the point, but still.