You are right. I do not think it is that manipulated if at all. The fact is they cannot afford to have Derek winning every season. However good or bad his partner is, it is still not good for the show. This is one reason I was certain he would not win last season and will not win this season. last season, on the show before the finale, he mentioned they were just having fun and never even mentioned anything about trying to win when all the others did. Ricki knew and he knew that they were not aiming for the mirror ball trophy because it was not going to happen.