NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- "Celebrity Apprentice" finalist Trace Adkins has an apprentice of his own.

In the market for a duet partner, Adkins picked out an unknown singer he saw at a junior-college fundraiser to join him for his appearances this week on "Today" and "Fox & Friends." He surprised 23-year-old Maureen Maltez with a copy of the song during a jazz dance class two weeks ago, and after a few quick rehearsals, the two boarded a plane Tuesday to New York.

"There were any number of seasoned professionals here in town that of course I could have gone with and they would have done a beautiful job," Adkins said. "But I saw her sing and I remembered her and I just thought, ‘I bet it would really mean something if she were to do it.' "

She remembers standing backstage following her performance at the fundraiser when a 6-foot-7 man she'd never met walked up.

"All he said was, ‘Hello, my name is Trace Adkins and you sing beautiful,' " Maltez said before a rehearsal at Adkins' Brentwood home.

Two weeks ago he walked into her class at Columbia State Community College and handed her a CD with "Watch the World End," a song from his new album, "Love Will ... ."

Adkins gave Maltez a night to rehearse the song and returned with his piano player the next day to see how they sounded together. Satisfied, he invited her to New York.