The fifth season of The Apprentice continues to bloom like a wonderful, fragrant flower (with bad hair), and on Monday’s show, we were treated to another hilarious squabble-fest in the Boardroom. We knew we were in for good times when we found out that this week’s challenge involved producing a commercial — a task that has engendered some of the silliest moments in Apprentice history. While most people remember Erin’s sultry cucumber stroking or Kristen’s jizz-covered jogger from season three, my favorite homemade commercial came from Randal and Rebecca. Overacting has never been so enjoyable (“Gosh, I hate waiting for these large files!!”). So what better way to improve on a classic mission than to impose a strict time limit and set it out to sea? That’s right. The wannabe Trumps had three hours to shoot a commercial on a cruiseliner. Did somebody say chaos?The show opened up in The Boardroom as we re-lived Brent’s disastrous final moments. Oh, what a pure, bagel-consuming mess he was. Surprisingly enough, we focused mostly on Andrea and her shocked, SHOCKED, reaction to Roxanne, who said that Tammy had been the best Project Manager thus far. How dare Roxanne speak such heresy! Andrea’s reign of power was bountiful and glorious for Team Synergy! Anyone who thinks otherwise might as well be shot! Sadly, Andrea did not then go running out of the Boardroom and cry in the bathroom.
Meanwhile, up in the suite, Gold Rush prepared dinner and gabbed around the table. They all hoped Brent would be coming back, simply because it meant Synergy would probably wind up back in the Boardroom yet again. This led to general Brent bashing, topped off with Tarek mocking, “Hey guys! Where’re the bagels?”
Sadly for Gold Rush, their wishes went unfulfilled. Synergy returned sans Brent, causing great sadness amongst Lee and Tarek. Lenny, on the other hand, looked positively ebullient as he smiled widely and hugged everyone. Then again, he could have also been drunk. We then focused in on a bagel in a plastic bag — the last symbolic remnants of Brent Michael Buchman. I was shocked that he hadn’t packed this tasty snack away. You know that somewhere in the city that night, there was a man crying for his poppy seed bagel.
Later, Roxanne and Andrea had a little tête-à-tête off to the side. You see, Andrea was a little taken aback by Roxanne’s comments in the Boardroom and wanted to know what the dealio was. Granted, she wasn’t offended by what Roxanne said. “I was just surprised. I was surprised, that’s it,” Andrea said. Translation: Actually, yes, I was offended. Well, Andrea’s ego was damaged, and now she wanted Roxanne to grovel and apologize until the situation was properly remedied. Unfortunately, Roxy had bad news for her: she thought that Andrea had treated the team poorly as Project Manager — something that Andrea merely brushed off as weakness on Roxanne’s part. “If Roxanne can’t handle someone being direct with her, then she cannot work for Donald Trump. Period,” Andrea said. Funny, I was pretty sure it was Andrea getting flustered by Roxanne’s directness, not the other way around.
Anyway, the next day, we skipped entirely over the early morning Rhona call and found ourselves on a cruise ship where The Donald (along with Bill and Carolyn — dammit! No George and Carolyn again? This is ridiculous) asked a captain about exciting things like keels and hulls and whatnot. “How many propellers does this ship have?” Trump asked. Furthermore, are they Trump Propellers — a.k.a. the BEST PROPELLERS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD??? Well, for all you wondering, there were only two propellers, which was kind of lame. I was expecting like thirty or, I don’t know, A THOUSAND. Worst giant cruise ship EVER!
Turns out this was not just any cruise ship. This was the Norwegian Jewel (rah!) from the Norwegian Cruise Line (RAH!!!). From Norway! (RAAAAHHH!!!) Sorry, had to go for the hat trick. Anyway, the teams soon filed in, and Trump gave them a little lesson about the cruise line industry. Wait for it… wait for it…
“The cruise line industry is a TEN BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY!!!” he bellowed. I would have expected a THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR industry, but then again, I might have been thinking of just the propeller industry alone… which just so happens to be a THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY!!!!
Anyway, to the delight of all viewers at home, the teams had to make commercials for the cruise line promoting the company’s new “freestyle cruising” campaign. And no, that wasn’t Norwegian Cruise Line’s new gay fleet. Freestyle cruising was the company’s new policy of letting guests eat and dine whenever they wanted to! Oh god. I’ve turned into a shill. Damn you, product placement!!
Well, unlike other seasons past, there would be a strict time limit enforced on the filming of these commercials. The boat was leaving at 3 PM sharp. This meant that teams had to wrap their productions by then… otherwise they’d be trapped on board. Oh, and by the way — 3 PM was only three hours away. You know what that means: Conga music and pandemonium! We quickly cut to Gold Rush as Dan assumed the Project Manager position and promptly went nuts. He was following the Theresa school of management: shout things spastically and hope something works. In this case, Dan eschewed the “GET ME A COACH AND HORSES!” demands in favor of writing down random words. “Put down casino!” he yelled for no real reason. I half expected him to add, “Now put down carpet. And hedgehog. Then chaise-lounge. Okay, and how about turnpike? Do we need a verb? We’re doing Mad-Libs, right?”
Well, if there’s anyone who doesn’t like insanity, it’s Lenny. “It was so hectic! I couldn’t stand [it]!” he told us. It was like all his blimp nightmares come to life! Luckily, amidst all the shouting and confusion, Lenny managed to piece together an idea that at least he and Lee really liked. Basically, it was about a castaway who’s saved by the Norwegian Jewel, and consequently comes to love the “Freestyle Cruising” experience. Because honestly, if there’s something you hate after seven days of floating in the ocean, it’s those damn rigid buffet schedules! I want my casserole now, DAMMIT!
It wasn’t a great idea. It wasn’t a terrible idea. But it was a good jumping off place for Gold Rush. Of course, with only three hours to film, I didn’t know how they were going to create any sort of decent narrative, but such is the joy of the “make a commercial” challenge.
Over at Synergy, Project Manager Roxanne was going for a simpler, more straightforward approach to her commercial. She was simply going to contrast stodgy, old, regimented cruising with new, empowering, freestyle cruising. (Seriously, I really feel like I’m peddling a gay porn here.) Anyway, there was some mild chaos on Synergy, mostly in that Roxanne didn’t seem to be stepping up that much — or at least not as much as Andrea would have liked — but we knew she’d be okay because, let’s face it, the second team profiled after the assignment always wins.
After the commercial break, The Donald told us to “Listen to Your People!” This was evidenced by season three winner Kendra Todd popping up in Trump’s office and advising him to aggressively attack an international market. Too bad Tana wasn’t hired. She would have insisted on an aggressive bedazzling campaign instead. Anyway, Kendra said that an international market would open up foreign territories (genius deduction) and blah blah blah back to the show.
Kendra LOVES foreign markets!
Now, according to Trump, listening was important, and Dan most certainly listened to Lenny’s idea — so maybe Gold Rush would be in the clear after all, despite having been profiled first. Eh, not so much. After Donald’s business lesson, we then cut to Dan doing everything himself (i.e. not listening! BUSTED!!). Basically, Lee, Charmaine, Leslie, and Lenny were left to stand around and watch. With nothing to do, the two ladies decided to hit the toilets and gossip, which then led to the ever so awkward shot of them both sitting in their stalls peeing. Yes, we saw their feet and yes, WE HEARD THE PEE!!! Plus there was this really distracting cloth on the ground. I really didn’t know what to make of the whole situation.
Anyway, while they pissed in the bowl, the girls talked about how much Dan sucked and how he wasn’t delegating and how he was the spawn of satan and whatnot. We then cut to them standing at the sinks as Charmaine said, “Powerful toilet, huh?”
And then Leslie responded, “Yeah, I know. I almost got sucked down with the ship. But if we delegate…” And just like that, they were back to bashing Dan. It was the most random two seconds of toilet commentary ever on reality TV. Don’t get me wrong, I was very glad the editors kept it in there, but I couldn’t help asking “Why?” I mean, they could have easily snipped that entire portion out. I have to think they were as amused as I was. As for the pee sounds — we don’t like to hear women doing that! Guys — fine. Frank Drebbin, Homer Simpson — both excellent urine fiends. But do we really need any Charmaine/Leslie watersports? Methinks not. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. In which case, please, enjoy yourself.
Aaaanyhoo… As Dan continued to direct his commercial, Bill Rancic entered and was promptly intercepted by Lee, who enthusiastically explained the entire situation to him. This caused Dan to complain to us that Lee always seems to perk up whenever Bill or Carolyn come by — well, yeah! He has nothing ELSE to do!
Over at Synergy, with only twenty-three minutes left, Roxanne was racing to meet her deadline. Since she wanted to show how absolutely god-awful and terrible old-fashioned cruising was, she instructed her actors to look and sad and bored. But when Roxanne had to step away for two seconds to answer a phone call, Andrea butted in and told the actors to cheer up. And rightfully so. Only one person’s allowed to act glum around here, and that’s Andrea (provided she has a bathroom she can lock herself into and cry in).
Well, this did not please Roxanne, but she handled it like a pro by avoiding a fight and simply moving on to the next take. However, she did tell us in an interview, “Andrea doesn’t know how to play in the sandbox. I actually know how to play in the sandbox.” This will be very helpful once The Donald reveals his latest real estate venture: Trump Sandbox.
With the clock winding down, I began to fear that neither of these teams would be able to get off the boat in time, therefore dooming themselves to a highly unprofessional mid-interview cruise to the Caribbean. That, of course, got us at the TVgasm offices thinking of a great way to scam a free cruise: pretend you’re on board to tape a reality show and — oops, the ship already left port! Guess we’ll just have to go along for the ride!
Luckily, everyone managed to wrap up their work in time for the boat to head off, and that night, the teams buckled down and edited together their commercials. On Synergy, Roxanne once again had trouble with Andrea who was reluctant to show the angry, depressed actors. “You’re making the product look crappy,” she said. Except it’s not the product. Don’t you realize, woman? You’re portraying those other lame cruise lines and– oh, never mind. I wouldn’t want to frazzle Andrea with all my direct talk.
Having put up with enough bullshit, Roxanne finally put her foot down and said she was sticking with her plan (Does this mean she’s not listening? Does this mean she’ll lose??). “The only thing I expect is just some respect,” Roxanne said, proving herself to be an accidental poet. Looks like one thing she doesn’t expect is help with her rhymes. Sistah gots some natural freestyling skills. Which would make sense because it’s all about the freestyle cruisin’! It all comes together.
Meanwhile, over on Gold Rush, Tarek came up with the brilliant idea of only using text on the commercial. Why? I don’t know. But let’s not forget that a) he’s in MENSA, and b) he looks like Orlando Bloom. That alone should be reason enough to listen to him, right? Well, that and the fact that he’s got so much grease in his hair that one spark and he’ll incinerate a fifty-foot radius.
Anyway, a text-only commercial was a risky venture, especially since the team already had the tricky task of conveying a castaway narrative. Had these people been diligent Apprentice viewers, they would have remembered how Alla and Felisha had totally bombed their commercial thanks to overuse of text. Or maybe they would have remembered how just the week prior, Synergy lost due to an overly-written Grapenuts banner. But alas, no one could question Tarek’s text-only vision — an artistic choice on par with other great cinematic landmarks such as The 400 Blows and Big Momma’s House 2.
Well, Lenny raised an objection in a surprisingly non-obnoxious way, saying that the words could be confusing with so many images going by so fast. But no one listened to him. Ah ha! The lack of listening! Gold Rush is going to lose after all!
Yes, for some reason, Tarek and Dan were massively opposed to a simple voiceover narration. I didn’t know why. It would take about two minutes tops to record the track. Still, Tarek had some odd logic to rationalize his bizarre fear of voiceovers. “How many times when you’re watching TV — you see a commercial only once?” he said, implying that the viewer will have several chances to read the text in the spot. And if there’s one thing we know about TV watchers, it’s that they love to dissect cruise commercials over and over again. Heck, sometimes that’s all they tune in for!
Luckily, Lenny made the point that should have won over everyone: “We don’t get chance to show commercial 20,000 times.”
“You know what, and you can defend your ass that way too,” Tarek replied. Seriously, he was way too in love with such a minor detail. I suppose we can start the countdown clock to Tarek’s firing right… now.
The next morning, Synergy presented first and even came dressed in matching blue scarves which looked delightfully fey on Sean and Michael. Anyway, their commercial seemed pretty good — although, Andrea may have been right. Those fleeting three seconds of the couple looking unhappy with the regimented cruising totally made the product look awful. I’m shocked the company didn’t receive 50,000 cancellations right then and there!
“Guys, I can’t believe we all wore the same thing. This is embarrassing.”
Sean: Reinforcing the foppish Brit stereotype wherever he can.
“I’m quite ravishing.”
Next up was Gold Rush, and even though they didn’t have dapper scarves, they did have dapper ties, causing one of the Norwegian Cruise Line execs to suddenly say, “Hey guys! You look fabulous!” Of course, with his bizarre Southern/gayish accent, it sounded more like “Hey Gaaaahz! You look fabuuulous!”
The execs then watched the commercial, and sure enough, Lenny was right. The text and images flew by too quickly. Even worse, the execs didn’t get the whole castaway thing. Dan tried to explain it, but he wound up veering into abstract (read: silly) territory as he talked about how the castaway’s raft was some symbolic image of restrictions in not just cruising, but life in general. Wow. Next time I see a commercial, I’ll keep my eye out for random images filled with symbolic heft. That chandelier in the Swiffer ad? Yeah, that represents the inner soul coming to life with the experiential illumination that only the Swiffer can provide.
Well, after some deliberations, the execs faulted Gold Rush for their lack of voiceovers (suck it, Tarek). They explained that voiceovers were critical for reaching people who were only half-watching the spot. It was therefore no surprise that Synergy won the task, and as their reward, they got to visit a secret diamond vault where they’d be able to take home $30,000 worth of jewels. We then cut to the team at an underground bunker (which looked alarmingly like CTU), and after they were frisked by security, they were led into a vault where they could play with diamonds. Yay! Unfortunately, no one seemed to understand the basics of simple finger pressure, and as a result, diamonds went flying from everyone’s tweezers. First Tammy dropped a diamond, then someone else, and then Roxanne — were these people idiots? Did they realize they didn’t have to press down AS HARD AS POSSIBLE?
Anyway, back up in the suite, Gold Rush prepared for another intense battle. So far this season, the best Boardrooms have featured these knuckleheads, and I was sure this week’s showdown would be no exception. Tarek knew he was on borrowed time with Trump, and so he began campaigning against Lenny and Lee, well, mostly Lee. I wish I could remember what he said about the guys, but I was too distracted by the rare sight of Tarek’s hair without the typical gallon of gel in it. Actually, I do remember one thing Tarek said. He told Dan that in Boardroom, “Keep in mind that you have zero friends.” Ominous foreshadowing, dearest Tarek.
Well, the gang eventually made their way down to the Boadroom, and that lazy bitch Robin didn’t even bother to open the doors for them this week. What’s with her? Sometimes she gets up. Sometimes she hides in her desk. I guess it all depends on the status of her Sudoku game. Anyway, as the team filed into the room, Carolyn — adorned in a snakeskin coat — shot them a pissy look. The sort of look that says “I just killed twelve gophers on my golf course. With my bare hands. What did you do today?”
Trump began drilling the team about Dan’s leadership and whatnot, and almost immediately Leslie sparked to life, saying that her broadcast journalism background was completely ignored. She said that every time she mentioned it, he simply didn’t listen to her. Dan denied the accusation, saying he never heard Leslie say anything about broadcast journalism. You didn’t hear it because you don’t LISTEN, jerk!
“I don’t recall it,” Dan said.
“You don’t recall a lot, DAN!” Leslie snapped back. Oooh! Did Nick Cannon just enter the room? Because these two are wild ‘n’ out!
Tarek then entered the fray and said, “If Leslie had stepped and said…” I wish I could finish the quote, but at that point, the Boardroom turned into one giant bicker-fest. Seriously. There were about four people all talking over each other. Just about the only person who was silent was Lenny. Finally, after enough of this, Carolyn leveled the team by asking, “Excuse me. Do you know how ridiculous you all sound right now?” Shut up, Carolyn. I was enjoying that (and Trump was too, btw).
“You kind of sound like you’re ten years old,” she said. Oooh, total snakeskin jacket bitchslap!
With order restored, Trump returned to his critique. He said that he was happy to finally see some energy out of Leslie (wait ’till she starts talking about toilets, Mr. Trump), and then he lambasted the entire idea of the commercial.
“But everybody likes it,” Lenny retorted. Yes, just as I’m sure everybody liked when you seasoned Jean Georges’s food last week.
Bill, meanwhile, felt that the biggest problem was not the commercial idea. “That was a fatal blow in my opinion. Having text on the bottom of the screen and no voiceover,” he said. Tarek tried to then explain his artistic choice, making some ridiculous comparison to impressionist paintings and whatnot. It was such a silly thing to say that Trump returned to his favorite game: making fun of Tarek’s MENSA membership.
“I’ve never seen a genius make so many mistakes,” he said. You should see Stephen Hawkings try to prepare a frisée salad. Total disaster.
With the momentum going against him and Tarek, Dan tried to pin everything on Lee. “Let me describe Lee in a nutshell. Lee enters a situation with the impression of ‘How can I position myself best?’” Dan said.
“But don’t you want to position yourself best?” Trump asked. EXACTLY.
Trump then asked everyone who they’d vote off. After some thought, Charmaine said, “I think that… Tarek’s inability to listen somewhat impedes the creative process, and that’s where we missed the boat.” Sounds like somebody’s feeling a bit punny today! Oh, Charmaine, so clever. May your puns forever light up the television landscape.
Ultimately, Dan decided to take Lee and Tarek back with him into the Boardroom, something that totally shocked Tarek. I guess he kind of forgot about that whole “You have zero friends” thing. Dan also pondered bringing Lenny back with him (causing Lenny to shrug and say, “Why not?”), but ultimately, he feared that The Russian and Lee would gang up on him — so he stuck with his original game plan. Not a good move. Turned out that Carolyn HATED the commercial concept and was Super Snakeskin Coat Annoyed that Lenny wasn’t in the Boardroom. Trump then grilled Dan as to why he brought Tarek back with him.
“Tarek came over to me and said ‘I just want to let you know, you have no friends in that Boardroom. No one.’ And I was kind of expecting to have that followed up with ‘Except for me.’ But it didn’t come,” Dan said. I could almost hear a violin playing in the background. He might as well have said, “Tarek was mean to me! I hate Tarek!”
Trump then busted Dan’s chops for bringing Lee into the Boardroom instead of Lenny, to which Dan said they were a team (?). Team schmeam. The only reason Lenny wasn’t in the Boardroom was because Dan was afraid of him — a point that Carolyn was all too happy to make (snakeskin!).
But don’t think that Tarek was off the hook now. Trump again fixated on MENSA, saying, “You’re like an embarrassment for what you represent… I think the MENSA people should change the test because there’s something wrong. You’ve made so many basic mistakes.”
Well, after a long, vicious rant against Tarek, it looked like the Orlando Bloom doppleganger would finally be getting the heave-ho, but no! Trump axed Dan for his complete lack of leadership. “I expected that,” Dan muttered in response. Shut up. Just leave.
As the gang shuffled out, Trump then blared, “And tell Lenny he doesn’t have long to go. Believe me. You can give him that message from me!” Hey, what did Lenny do? Okay, he had a lame concept. And okay, he was stubborn on the corporate retreat challenge. But aside from that, he’s been pretty good. You took away our Brent. Don’t take Lenny too!
Anyway, Tarek and Lee took an elevator ride of awkwardness back up to the suite Dan hopped into his cab and reflected on the whole experience. He said that he was looking forward to seeing his boys again and then suddenly a demonic expression came over his face as he said, “Daddy’s coming home, and I’m going to be EATIN’ YOU UP!!!” Ahhh! Scary! Automatic nightmares! I guarantee that every single child watching the show immediately burst into tears and hid under a table.
What did you think? Did Trump fire the right person?