I have been watching this show for probably about three years now and I have noticed that it's very predictable and heavily edited. They repeat the same sequence of shots for specific scenes in every single episode. In this particular scene (skip ahead to 39:00), we can see that the editing just in the first few seconds is done heavily with the camera(s) appearing from various points of view around the table. Also, the host asks the same staged question (with maybe a minor change so it can be punny) in every episode at the end of the judging: "Alright judges, do we have a winner?"
The editing for when the two remaining contestants come back also clearly reveals that this is not in real time. While the host is talking to them it seems like it's done in real time and the contestants are doing a really good job at keeping their emotions together. That doesn't seem all that real though because if their career's future and a ton of money were on the line, they'd probably look much more anxious then they appear. That leads me to question if somehow they know ahead of time who's going to win and if their reactions afterwords are fake ones to trick the audience into believing it's all happening right then. When Michelle is announced, she does what every other winner of the show does and covers her face, hugs her assistant, then hugs her provided baking assistants. There must be some nudging to go in that particular order because every winner does exactly the same thing. While Michelle is celebrating, there is a visual commentary from the loser saying how sad and disappointed he is that he didn't win. The winner has a similar commentary about how awesome it us that she won. These commentaries are not done in real time and are either scripted or at least guided because it seems like it's in an answer to a question, almost, and most of them say the exact same thing in every episode.
So, with all this editing and scripting that's happening or might be happening, what's "real" about this show? I think the cakes they make are their own real recipes and the display they come up with in the final round is from their own brain. The mistakes they make, such as using the wrong butter or using imitation flavoring rather than the real stuff, are also their own because not every show has that element in it. Also, the reactions the judges have to the cupcakes and displays appear to be authentic because they show the judges personalities in them. For instance, Candance generally has something positive to say about them as well as a negative and Florian is a little more negative and also has particular quirks like his hatred of imitation flavors. As I'm writing this, though, I'm beginning to question whether their Cupcake Wars personas are in fact personas and they've been coached to act/judge a certain way. I hope not... With all this being said, I think the stuff that appears real is enough to keep people watching and to make the show seem legit.
There's so much more to say about this show: like how it perpetuates our culture's competitiveness and capitalist desires to make some quick money, as well as the interesting gender analysis of the show since most of the contestants on it are female (Why are more females baking cupcakes? Are there more female bakers? Is this an accurate depiction of cupcake bakers? How does the show cater more towards females than males? Why? etc.). I could ramble on, but I'd like to read some of your thoughts.