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It’s been one month since the last season of The Apprentice wrapped up, and wouldn’t you know it, the live finale is still going on. Okay, maybe it’s not, but in our minds, that long, stultifying episode continues to replay as we remember endless audience participation, random Ojay’s singing, and Trump’s Chief Operating Officer completely losing it on live TV. Was this the end for The Apprentice? It left such a sour taste in everyone’s mouth that to return to the trough almost felt like a chore.
Well, thank goodness last night’s season premiere was back on point. I don’t know how I could have dealt had one of my favorite reality shows gone down in flames. We knew we were back in the comforting hands of Mark Burnett as the first images of Trump’s helicopter filled the screen. With Killer Tracks blazing in the background (“dunh, dunh, DUNH!!!”), we gazed upon the formidable New York City skyline and entered a semi-meditative state â€”Â until The Donald bellowed out “New York City: I love this town!” Welcome back, Apprentice. Welcome back.Donald spent the first few minutes babbling about the show and its contestants and his empire. In a very Alcoholics Anonymous moment, he said “My name is Donald Trump. You know everything about me.” So apparently we know everything about him, but his name?
Nevertheless, the whipping boys and girls all descended upon New York City in various forms of transport, from JetBlue (what are the odds that there’s a JetBlue task later?) to subway, from taxi to bus, from space shuttle to covered wagon. One plucky guy stepped on a city bus and announced “My first time in New York!” I’m sure the driver really cared. Cut to Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” playing as the newbie slowly descends into a life of male prostitution with his new friend, Ratso Rizzo.
But this show isn’t really about the apprentice-wannabes. It’s about Trump and all things Trump. That’s why we returned to The Donald as he emerged from his helicopter with the help of what seemed to be a body double of some sort. Honestly, the guy had the same build, bad hair, and an identical suit. I half expected Trump to say “This is my mildly retarded brother, Howie. He holds the door open for me. Maybe you can too… on The APPRENTICE!” Instead, Donald headed to Trump Towers where he was greeted by a random (read: paid) mob of fans. As he waded through the followers, one middle-aged gentleman pulled a Howard Dean and yelled “YEAH!!!!” as he flung his fist in the air. Sadly, with the high point in his life passed, this Willy Loman-esque character ambled down to the East River and killed himself.
Anyway, Trump ushered in the opening credits with an ostentatious aerial shot that seemed to say “Whoosh! Marvel at the speed of business!!” We soon met a handful of the candidates, including this season’s bow tie jerk, Bren, who said “I’m a little man with a big mouth.” He then added, “Big mouth and… well, a little penis. Just… just leave.” There was also Angie who sported a stewardess-chic neck scarf that I feared may also have been load-bearing. That thing was so tightly wound and omnipresent, I thought her head might roll right off her neck, lest the scarf come undone.
There was also faux-trendy Erin whose most notable qualities were the two black draperies on her head that she might call hair. Erin has a soft, Grace Slick look that probably would have translated to a lucrative career as an album cover model in the 1960s. Whenever I look at her, I can’t help but envision psychedelic patterns blue screened behind her. According to her NBC bio, she dreams of one day opening up her own lawfirm by women for women. You know, it’s great that someone finally patterned their life around cancelled CBS drama “Family Law.”
After the contestants met with Trump, everyone zipped up to the loft which had been unfortunately given an Extreme Makeover: Suck Edition. Apparently NBC had let loose some talentless Thom Felcia fan as the once colorful loft had been transformed into a 1980s striped and checkered nightmare, complete with its own set of Oscars. Still, that didn’t stop Tana from masturbating over the kitchen as she exclaimed “A dream kitchen!!” She then bubbled over upon finding a wayward missive, as she squealed “Oooh! Should we read the card?” Note to self: never take Tana to Hallmark.
Teams split up into Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts, and off the bat, there were some clear differences between the two. One team was loud and brash while the other was refrained and pansyish. Wanna take a guess at how it broke down? With the Street Smarts people (a.k.a. “high school”), we had stocky pitbull Brian filling in the role of typical New Yawka, and John, the self-proclaimed “schmoe” from Tampa, stepping up as the resident logician. “We’re gonna win because we got nothing to lose!” he explained. Apparently “dignity” and “professional reputation” are just merely annoyances.
On the college side of the loft, we had Danny. Oh Danny. Not only did he show up wearing a red leisure suit, but this skinny Michael Moore sported a guitar that was well overdue for some John Belushi bashing. Danny quickly anointed himself CMO – that’s “Chief Moral Officer”. His duty: to keep spirits up and the team thinking positively. Cut to my stomach churning with visions of trust falls and corporate retreats. Sure enough, the CMO attacked swiftly, causing this group of college educated buffoons to yell out their new slogan, “UNBELIEVABLE!” Um, are they selling washing machines? They sound like a local commercial for some appliance store in New Hampshire. I’ll name their business “Unbelievable Sal’s: where the prices are UNBELIEVABLE!”
“I got my blender for $20 less than Sears. UNBELIEVABLE!”
Okay, I’ll stop.
Soon it was time for teams to come up with names. Book smarts toyed with “Legacy” which I imagine is how any of these people got into college. Ultimately, they settled for “Magna” – as in Magna Cum Laude. Other options were “Laude” (which sounded too much like “Loud”) and “Cum” which, well, never mind. After all this, Magna celebrated by singing a team song written by Danny. Where the hell did these people go to college? Brown?
Over at Street smarts, Brian suggested “Brass Balls Inc.” Apparently the company’s receptionist would answer the phones with “Aaay!” Amazingly, “Brass Balls Inc.” was shot down, as well as “Giant Monkey Schlong, LTD.”, “You Got A Problem? Inc.”, and “Mosaic”. Ultimately, the high school group settled on “Net Worth”, an enigmatic name that conjures up images of my tax returns.
The next morning, Rhona called the loft, and look at Miss Fancy Pants! If my eyes don’t deceive me, lady Rhona got herself a makeover! Goodbye drab hair, hello highlights! Somebody get a damp towel because Rhona is HOT. Cue the Nelly.
Teams met Trump on the top of his building for no real reason except to see if his hair might budge at higher altitudes. He informed them that they would be managing a Burger King restaurant for one day, and on top of that, they’d be choosing a new item to name, market and sell. Hmmm… Trump hasn’t said “billion” yet. I feel a little disconcerted. “Burger King sells 2.5 billion burgers a year,” Trump announced. Phew! Around this time, I couldn’t help noticing Tana and her shapely breasts. It was almost as if someone had taken two protractors and slipped them under her shirt.
Back in the loft, Todd took over as Magna’s project manager. Danny assigned himself as head of marketing, insisting that he could get people in the door. “I’ll just dress like a bum and scare them in!” John, project manager for Net Worth, headed down to his Burger King with his team where the specialty chef kept six new sandwiches under black bowls as he described them. Was this Price is Right or something? Did they have to match the description with the right sandwich in order to win a car?
Both teams carefully selected their sandwich at their respective restaurants with a deliberation process so analytical that I feared a spin off show, “America’s Next Top Burger”, was in the works. Eventually, the teams selected their burger (while I mopped up my salivation) and got to work training. George, walking around to survey the progress, informed Carolyn that “I used to work at a soda jerk,” or “schoda jerk” as he says it. George Ross: America’s Grandpa.
Net Worth was quick to come up with a marketing scheme for their Western burger, and John dispatched Brian and some girls to get props and costumes. Brian explained that he “took the ladies to buy balloons and cowboy costumes” because of his work history. His work history? As what? A clown? Actually, he noted that he used to run a dollar store, and at the costume shop, he commented “I know the price of these things.” Let me guess. One dollar!
Over at Burger King HQ, Danny and his female sidekick (I don’t know all the names yet) had the most awkward and unprepared meeting with the head of marketing. Truthfully, Danny had a solid idea in a “Just Say Cheese” campaign for the triple cheese burger they were selling. But somehow he lost confidence in the idea and spent the next several hours coming up with “Triple Play”. Huh? You see, three cheeses? Triple play? It’s a vague connection. Perfect! Luckily their burger had a catchy name: “The Triple Cheese with Bacon Angus Burger.” Honestly, it was better than the first name: “The Triple Cheese with Bacon and Angus Meat on Two Buns with Ketchup and Chopped Onions Burger That You Eat.”
Meanwhile, Net Worth added a Las Vegas roundtrip giveaway to their marketing scheme, but that of course meant snagging some tickets. Tana and her teammate found a travel agent who would be up until 10 pm – great! Little did they know it was a fat bald guy in his apartment. As the ladies waited for the tickets to pop out of the guy’s printer, a sociable dog decided to claim Tana as his own by letting loose a steady stream of pee on her leg. YES. Why don’t Apprentice stars get peed on more frequently? Lord knows they deserve it.
The next morning, we finally got to see the CMO’s big marketing plan. It’s hard to describe (outside of “awful”). Basically, Danny strolled around with his guitar and tried to snare passers by. Unfortunately, he looked like a wandering bum freshly evicted from his box under the Williamsburg Bridge. The little “throw the ball in hole” game he had didn’t help either. Carolyn summed it up nicely: “This is sad. This is very sad.” Of course Alex had a different view, noting that everything was “workin’ like clock.” Work. Clockwork. The expression is… oh never mind…
Unfortunately for Magna, everything was not working like clockwork. The two – TWO – people on the cash register seemed to have problems navigating the illiterate-friendly touch screen, causing massive lines. Project Manager Todd could have helped out, but oops, he wasn’t trained. You see, the day before, he spent the entire afternoon sitting at a table, writing on paper, and basically trying to look busy. Of course, had anyone read what he was writing, they would have found “Day 487 and the swelling still has not gone down from the wisdom teeth. I fear my jowls will be swollen for time eternal. Cruel fate. Smite me now. Also, I think Erin likes me.”
Of course spunky team Net Worth was all over this task. They were giving pep talks, selling the product, and doing a general rat-a-tat-tat performance. Later on in the Board Room, it was therefore no surprise when Carolyn announced they had won by about $40. The team cheered, and I thought it was quite nice of Net Worth to invite the Burger King employees into the Board Room. Oh wait, those were just more people on Net Worth. Of course, The Donald couldn’t help but rub it in the faces of the “college geniuses.” You know, just because you add “college” to the resume doesn’t mean you’re a genius. I’m thinking more and more these people are all graduates of Hackensack Community College.
As a reward, Donald and the little lady invited Net Worth to dine in the wine cellar of the 21 Club. The restaurant manager explained how the wine cellar used to be a speakeasy during Prohibition. He then unlocked the door, causing Trump to giggle and do one of his “Did you see that?” gestures. Yes, the wonders of a lock and key. We’ve come so far. Unfortunately, this hidden backroom featured no flappers or expatriates. But there was a fancy spread, which was conducive to Brian asking Trump about some inane story. Long story short, he wanted to know if it was true that Trump paid off the mortgage of some couple who had helped him when he had car troubles. Trump paused for a while and said “Yes. It’s true.” Of course, in his mind, it was more like “I don’t remember that at all, but it sounds pretty good. So… true.” What he didn’t tell them was that the home was a one bedroom in rural Pennsylvania that burned down two weeks later â€”Â he collected the insurance.
Back at the apartment, Erin slid on her Uggz and teared up next to Todd. It was sort of her way of saying “Pleeeease don’t bring me in with you.” We then cut to an interview with her and GOOD GOD! She’s wearing the bathroom rug! Someone stole her clothing! How will she face Trump? Oh wait, no, that’s an actual poncho of some sort. Can’t stare… feeling woozy…
In the board room, Donald and an unusually cranky George came down hard on Todd for only training two people at the cash register. “They had two people. When I worked at a soda jerk…” George started. Great. Here goes crazy George with his soda jerk stories. Shut up, jerk. I mean, shut up, soda jerk.
Everyone tried to blame Danny for the team’s shortcomings, even his marketing partner Stephanie (ah, I remembered her name!) but when Donald asked Todd if he blamed him, the project manager seemed reticent to burn any bridges. “I don’t blame Danny,” Todd said. I half expected him to add, “I just hold him at fault for everything.” Just about the only person who didn’t blame Danny was Kendra, who might as well have started her comments with “Hi, my name’s Kendra. I’m actually on this show.”
When asked about his appearance, Danny explained that he didn’t wish to be a clone. Uh oh. Don’t say the “C” word. George suddenly piped up and snapped, “Do you think I’m a clone?” Whoa, easy there. He then continued, “When I worked in a soda jerk, we didn’t have clones. We didn’t even know what a clone was. Back in those days, a soda cost 5 cents, and we knew the value of a pretty girl who could foxtrot!” Everyone, back away from the George.
Eventually Todd returned with Danny and Alex, but not before the three guys decided to squeeze in together on that couch in the lobby. Tad awkward, yes? Alex almost shot himself in the foot when he announced it was his fault for training only two cashiers, and Danny became this season’s first recipient of the “you’re a disaster” comment, but in the end it was Todd who was fired. In fact, he was fired twice. If Trump had said “You’re fired” once more, we could have had a true triple play (raising pinky to mouth and snickering).
And so Todd was the first passenger of the Apprentice taxi service as he was ferreted away to reality oblivion. To his credit, he did manage to make himself look memorably pathetic as he pitched himself to potential employers. Who would have thought Todd would out-beggar Danny?
What did you think about the premiere?