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Well, it’s May, and as season finale, uh, season kicks in, our favorite reality shows have whittled down their contestant pool to a scant three or four members. As for The Apprentice, we started this week’s episode with only three huggable candidates: the perky Tana, the feisty Kendra, and the nonsensical Craig. That meant it was time for one of my favorite Apprentice traditions: the corporate interviews! I don’t really know why I love this segment so much (maybe that old purist in me enjoys the virtues of an old-fashioned sit-down), but I was happy to see the contestants squirm, stutter, and in the case of Craig, start ten different sentences at once.
Ah, but the joy of this penultimate episode reached beyond just the interviews. After all, this installment also marked the beginning of the final challenge, and in a nice, sadistic twist, Mark Burnett & Co. brought back the most scatterbrained, testy, and inept contestants of the season. Oh, this will be a great finale.The episode began with the odd couple of Craig and Kendra waiting around the loft, nervously anticipating who would return from the Boardroom. Craig was pulling for Tana, his little Street Smarts buddy. “Tana and I are the cream of the crop,” Craig informed us immodestly. Sorry Craig, but you’re not the cream. You’re not even non-fat skim milk. You’re Carnation Instant Breakfast at best.
Anyway, Tana returned to the loft where big hugs were had by all. There was general chatter, and somewhere in the mix, Tana must have stuck her finger in a wayward electrical socket because the next thing we knew, our Mary Kay superstar was sporting the biggest hair this side of 1984 Tina Turner. Also faring poorly was Kendra whose hands seemed to have turned a bright purple. Has she no vascular system? Oh wait, those were only her gloves. Man, I was really fearing for the well-being of these people.
The next morning, that bitch Rhona once again woke everyone up with her early morning call. Craig was the brave soul who got the phone, and once again, he was sporting his little afro pick in his hair. Listen Craig. You’re just not cool enough to pull that off. Now rainbow suspenders and a beanie — that’s a different story.
After washing up (and in the case of Tana, taming her hair’s wanderlust), everyone traveled on over to Trump World Towers where they huddled in a narrow hallways until The Donald arrived. The big man took them into a huge apartment seemingly made of windows and explained that this was the most luxurious space on earth. Actually, if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t that the same space teams rented for parties out in season one? Has Trump still not been able to sell this apartment? WTF? Is it haunted? Way to go Trump. Next time, don’t build your skyscrapers on ancient Indian burial grounds. Jerk.
Anyway, the visit to this apartment proved to be a nonsensical transition to the next task: the aforementioned interviews. This time, contestants would be meeting with David Brandon of Domino’s Pizza, Darlene “The Slut” Daggett of QVC, Howard Lamber of Douglas Ellison, and Greg “Crazy Eyes” Brenneman of Burger King. Let the festivities begin!
Well, actually, before we could do that, we had to watch an artistically shot crosswalk sign flicker “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” super fast. Oh, that’s good stuff! Really captures the essence of… something.
Okay, now it was time to start the interviews. Poor Tana’s hair seemed to be puffing up again, but that was no matter. Our favorite MILF was happy to be tackling the CEOs, saying “You don’t prepare for something like this.” Literally. She didn’t even brush her hair. But hey, that’s okay. At least she wasn’t sashaying around in her leather business suit (vavooom!).
Anyway, the interviews all began, and I was immediately impressed by sexpot Darlene Daggett who appeared to be a strange hybrid of Janet Reno and a nun. Seriously, this woman was out of control with her plunging neckline. I mean, I almost saw her chestbone! Luckily, she was sure to ensure that no skin was showing by wearing a necklace so thick, even African tribes were saying “Now that’s crazy!”
Similarly striking was Greg Brenneman (no relation to Amy, although he is a huge “Judging Amy” fan I’ve heard) who asked Craig questions with an Igor-like thrill in his eyes. Part of me thought he was simply going to pounce on the candidate and haul him off to a European castle for testing. Luckily, Brenneman was too confused by Craig’s answers to pull any such stunts. It was fairly sad watching Craig struggle. He stuttered, restarted, blanked, and babbled in a beautifully stunning choke. And to think, all Brenneman wanted to know was his name.
Of course, no interview montage will ever be complete without the obligatory close-ups of mouths, fast flying questions, puzzled contestants, and echoey sounds. This time around, the editors went buck-wild with the Avid and split the screen into all sorts of fancy panels that flittered around like an old Esther Williams aqua musical. Honestly, the only thing missing was a star wipe.
Memo to Apprentice editor: RELAX!
Eventually, the interviews came to an end, and the executives all entered the Boardroom to assess the candidates. In general, they all hated Craig (no substance, they said. Clearly, they did not see his cream-like capabilities), they all like Tana, and they all thought Kendra was young but full of potential. Darlene in particular was a big fan of Tana, saying that she appreciated her entrepreneurial honesty at nine years old. Yeah, because that’s a real indication of someone’s character TWENTY EIGHT YEARS LATER. Darlene then added that she respected Tana’s kindergarten ambitions to be an astronaut, have horseys, and want candy.
Soon, it was time for the candidates to go down to the Boardroom, and as they hauled their suitcases out the front door, Tana chirped, “Boy, this suitcase is heavy. How about you guys?” Man, this woman can really small talk like none other. I can’t even imagine what her weather material is like. I bet it kills each time. Anyway, in the Boardroom, Trump didn’t even bother pitting the candidates against each other (actually, that’s not true. Yahoo actually has a nifty deleted scene featuring Craig and Kendra going at it). After a few compliments, Trump simply dispatched Craig, citing the universal acknowledgment that he has no substance.
And so Craig meandered off to his cab, later telling us that he’s looking forward to spending the rest of his life with his family. Was there a choice? Was The Donald making him decide between his family and Trump International? That might explain the quiet sadness behind Bill Rancic’s eyes.
Upon returning to the suite, Tana and Kendra immediately squealed with delight, especially when they encountered a chilled bottle of champagne and a big photo album. The two perused the pages, happily taking a walk down memory lane (and for our benefit, Mark Burnett provided cheesy slow motion footage of fallen contestants, all to the tune of a bombastic and emotional score). Sadly, the schmaltz of the moment was instantly undercut as the two gazed upon Todd, the first contestant to be fired. “Wow, I don’t remember that much,” sad Tana very unsentimentally. Ultimately she simply concluded that he was a handsome man and then turned the page as if to say “LET’S NEVER TALK OF HIM AGAIN!”
The two continued to admire their former colleagues (read: judge their physical attractiveness), with Tana saying of Kristen, “You never see a smile.” Yeah, that might have something to do with the Botox and plastic surgery. When it came time for Audrey, Kendra cooed, “She’s a pretty girl.” SHHH!! Don’t say that! She’ll cut her face! You don’t know how difficult it’s been for her to be so beautiful!
Making another insightful comment about someone’s personality, Tana and Kendra immediately fawned over Stephanie. “She’s very photogenic,” said Tana. Yes, she was, but in a non-photogenic sort of way. It’s weird. After a few more pictures flipped by, the music suddenly reached a crescendo as the women squealed “Awwww!” What, pray tell, had they come across? A basket of puppies? A baby playing with a kitten? Jenn from Survivor? Nope. It was only Bren, the suite dreamboat. Sorry Alex. Not even the most metrosexual tendencies can top Southern charm.
After a crazy night of celebrating (ie. probably sipping tea and baking cookies), the ladies returned to the Boardroom the next day to receive their final challenge. Unfortunately, Trump wasn’t present to deliver the instructions in person, but he was ever so kind to tape a message from his limo where his bellowing voice seemed to startle the two women out of their shoes. Kendra was told to run the Best Buy World Videogame Championships in New York’s Webster Hall while Tana was assigned to the NYC 2012 Athlete Challenge at the Chelsea Piers. The screen then went black, leaving the rest of this segment in the awkward hands of Trump’s minions. Carolyn immediately perched over the intercom like a blonde grasshopper and buzzed Robin.
“Donald is my man, so STAY AWAY, BITCH!” she yelled. Okay, maybe she didn’t say that, but she did tell the soft-spoken receptionist to send in Tana and Kendra’s new teammates. Yes, the hallowed return of the losers, and in the case of this season, the über-losers. Season one reunited us with the six previously ousted contestants. Season two offered up six people from the middle of the season. This time around, however, there was no consistency on when the people were fired, but more like why they were fired. Yes, the producers threw a monkey wrench in Kendra and Tana’s game by supplying them with the very worst this season had to offer. For Kendra, she had the scatterbrained Danny, the stubborn Michael Tarshi, and the hairy Erin. Tana, meanwhile, got royally screwed with the logically-deprived Brian, loudmouth Kristen, and recent prisoner Chris. Of couse, Tana immediately requested to swap out some members of her team, but George shot her down, explaining that sometimes in business executives work with people they don’t like (sadly, George did not elaborate with a soda jerk story). Ah yes. What a group of disasters. So sadistic, Apprentice. We love it.
Well, Kendra went off to Webster Hall to check out the digs and rally her troops. Michael, Danny, and Erin were all smiles and promised to be the best teammates they possibly could be. They gave little to no back talk to their leader, and when assigned a task, Erin nodded her head assuredly as if to say, “My hair is on it!”
Over at Chelsea Piers, Tana met up with her team who also assuaged her fears about bickering and conflict. “You have a team here that loves each other,” said Kristen, who then added, “By the way, if any of you want to be in my self-financed Dove commercial, let me know. I’d really like to make someone seem just as pathetic as me.”
Anyway, after meeting with a Chelsea Piers administrator, Tana told her crew that she trusts them with any decision. She then added, “Oh shit, I thought you were Bren, Alex, and Kendra. Never mind. Just stay here in the corner and don’t do anything until the challenge is over.”
Back at Kendra’s camp, the Superfriends had an important meeting with executives from Electronic Arts and Best Buy. Unfortunately, no one told Kendra when the honchos arrived, and so for ten minutes, everyone, including America, had to suffer through Danny’s rambling ineptitude. Just to give you an idea of how truly awful and embarrassing he was, Danny actually sang an opening jingle to the meetings. And no, it wasn’t a jingle for the upcoming event. It was a jingle boasting how wonderful Team Magna was. I honestly expected the Best Buy executive to whip out a sickle and decapitate him right there. I know I wanted to (although, I respect that not everyone has a sickle on hand for such moments).
Luckily, Erin had the earth shattering idea to fetch Kendra, and while Danny’s damage seemed irreparable, our plucky leader went on overdrive to win back over the execs. Meanwhile, over at Team Tana, the chipper but annoyed MILF expressed genuine frustration with her underlings. “They bicker and they fight and they try to manage each other,” Tana said in a surprisingly acute description. We then cut to the “Three Stooges” as they jokingly fought over whether or not Kristen should wear hats. The boys thought she shouldn’t, the she-man thought she should. Chris in particular was very vocal about the dilemma: “YOU SHOULD NOT WEAR HATS. I FIND HEADWEAR TO BE UNATTRACTIVE, AND THAT IS A FFFFFACT!!!”
I gotta say, I agree with my boy Chris on this one. Kristen is not one who can rock the hat, especially the puffy, droopy kind that was only stylish, um, never. Wow, how catty of me. I deserve two air snaps from Alex for that one (We then cut to Alex: “You’re damn right, bitch!”). By the way, whenever I insert such Alex comments, feel free to imagine “Holiday” by Madonna playing in the background.
Well, things for Tana soon became delightfully embarrassing as she and Brian met with the NYC 2012 Olympic Bid executives. While she tried to impress her vision of the event on them, Chris and Kristen circled the block in their car for an hour, finally calling up Mom to say that they couldn’t find a spot. What the fletch was she supposed to do about that? Chris insisted that they wouldn’t be able to find a spot in the middle of the day near Wall Street in the middle of New York City (as opposed to near Wall Street in the middle of Spokane). Dumbass, park a few blocks away and hoof it. Or better yet, FIND A GARAGE!
Tana quickly told Chris to zip it, and when she returned to the meeting, she found Brian talking about how he was a magician. Yeah, I would have said “entrepreneur”, but hey, what do I know? Oh, that’s right, COMMON SENSE. Meanwhile, down in the car, Kristen balked some meandering statement about how when her ass is on the line, no one cares but now that someone else’s ass is on the line, she’s supposed to care (yeah, that’s a strange notion. Some people call it “team work”, but I think they’re just quacks). Anyway, Kristen finally concluded that since her ass was no longer on the line, she didn’t really care about any of this. Kristen Kirchner is a selfish reality star who can’t think beyond herself? Why, I never would have thought!
The hour eventually came to a close as Kendra illogically had dozens of Playstation 2 kiosks moved to a dingy room in the Webster Hall basement. Her logic was that EA was supposed to be the only sponsor in the main ballroom. Uh, well, maybe you should move the PS2s to the main room so that people will be able to, you know, PLAY the EA games.
Unfortunately, this basic logic didn’t occur to Kendra, causing problems when Playstation sent its rep, Aimee to check in on the event. I kind of liked Aimee, even if she did look like a Long Island version of the wrestler Chyna (don’t worry, Aimee, you are much hotter). Unsurprisingly, Aimee was not very happy with Kendra’s PS2 arrangements, and for a moment I thought she might pile drive the contestant into the ground, or at least perform some sort of suplex power move. Instead, she merely informed us that if the situation wasn’t rectified, there was a distinct possibility that Playstation would pull out of the event. Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what will happen.
Anyway, with that threat floating in the air, the episode ended on Kendra’s alarmed (a.k.a. normal) face. Not a good omen. The season one cliffhanger was Kwame dealing with Jessica Simpson. The season two cliffhanger was Jen dealing with Chris Weber. Both of them lost in the final Boardroom. Is it curtains for Kendra too? Well, apparently this Thursday’s episode is part one of a two part finale, so I guess we’ll have to take into consideration the next cliffhanger as well. Way to not drag out the finale again this season…
What do you think? Who has the better team? Who will win? Who deserves to win?