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Daaayuummm. That Donald Trump gets mad props, yo! Yes, the much ballyhooed hip hop installment of The Apprentice aired last night, and if you happened to tune into NBC during the 9 pm hour, you might have momentarily believed you were watching BET — that is, if BET stood for “Bad Entertainment Television.” Well, I shouldn’t say that it was bad entertainment because truthfully, I was quite entertained by these fools attempting to capture street culture. And honestly, at the end of the day, what else could speak more of hip hop than a short, white Tennessee district attorney wearing a bow tie? Move over 50 Cent. Bren’s in da club.The episode began with Alex complaining about Stephanie’s sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, you can’t change someone who’s been that way for 27 years, he reasoned. So Stephanie had an air of entitlement at age two? What did she do? Tell the other toddlers they were destined to lives of menial labor? Nevertheless, she returned from the boardroom and addressed the team about her perceived negativity. “I appreciate the constructive criticism,” she sniffled in between tears. Bren comforted her with a hug that seemed to say “There there, young harpy.”
The next morning, Rhona called in from her new desk which was conveniently located in front of a framed headline of Trump that read “MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE!” Sadly, had the camera panned a few more inches to the right, we would have also seen a framed picture of Frankie Avalon with the headline “MASTER OF RHONA’S UNIVERSE.” No word yet on whether He-Man has any intentions to win back either of those titles.
Anyway, Rhona instructed everyone to meet Donald Trump at the Playstation offices in mid-town. There, the group waited in the lobby while The Donald made awkward chit chat with the Sony reps. “How’s Playstation?” Trump asked, oddly eschewing the normal use of “the”. It sort of was the equivalent of going into Crate & Barrel and saying “What’s new with Desk? How about Chair?” Anyway, Trump addressed the candidates by alerting them that they’d be designing a graffiti mural to hawk the latest PS2 game, Gran Turismo 4. The urban billboards would be assessed by a focus group and whichever team best markets the product in the eyes of the Playstation guys would win. So basically the team would be… painting? Not the most entrepreneurial task, but I guess its marketing angle counts for something. Right? Okay, let’s face it. Mark Burnett just wanted to stick all these people in Harlem for a day and see what would happen.
In an amazing feat of physics and modern technology, Tara suddenly opened her mouth and began to talk. Turns out she was Project Manager for Net Worth. Who would have thunk it? “I understand Harlem,” she told us, adding “By the way, I am black.” Tara and the team gathered together, played some GT4, and then brainstormed some ideas. Audrey casually mentioned all the unique environments in the game — urban, dessert, forrest, etc. Equipped with all this information, Tara began her crusade to enlighten the Harlem community with a socially conscious graffiti mural. It had something to do with a car driving out of the mean streets of New York, as evidenced by angry buildings possibly shouting (with Maine accents) “You leave us alone, you hear? This city don’t care much for flashy cars and short dresses! Now let’s go eat some chowda.”
“I think I’d lose a lot of street credibility if Magna wins this,” Tara laughed haughtily. First sign of ebbing street cred? Calling street cred “street credibility”.
Alex, meanwhile, became the Project Manager of Magna. He felt confident about his mission because, as he stated, “I play video games. I went to college.” Interesting. And based on the motel refurbishing mission, Magna won that because they learned how to party in college. So let that be a lesson to you folks: go to college and you’ll never be creative unless it comes to video games and partying. Works for me!
Anyway, Alex and the team met with various graffiti artists before settling down with Lady Pink, and no, she wasn’t an errant porn star carrying a can of spray paint for whippets. Lady Pink was a bona fide street artist who just happened to have a very lesbian-friendly name. Sadly her friends Kitty Snatch and Madame Vagina were nowhere to be found.
After deciding on artists, both teams headed to their walls and got to work shilling for Sony. The producers opted to shun their usual jazzy soundtrack for a more urban selection of public domain tracks. Yes, tonight’s Apprentice was full of record scratches and hip singers occasionally chirping “Uh!” and “Oh yeah!” Yes, nothing says the streets of Harlem like music worthy of a Tae-Bo video. I could have done without the pandering, pseudo-urban soundtrack, but then I figured it was probably just promotion for Will Smith’s new single, “Switch“. Rejoice, Bar-Mitzvah DJs.
Speaking of urban malaise, the college kids from Magna struggled to come up with a concept for their billboard. With nothing left to do, they got to work painting jungle vines on the bottom of the wall. Uh, guys. Just so you know — the urban jungle is not actually a jungle. Stephanie and Bren, who had spoken with Sony’s people about the audience they were trying to reach, actually pointed this out, but Erin defended it, saying it was “urban”. Sigh. I’m glad she didn’t say something foolish like “Besides, black people come from the jungle, right?”
At least Alex was forthright about his fish-out-of-water status. “What the hell do I know about G-Wheels and ‘C’mon, how you doin’?” he asked, ironically wearing a prototypical gangsta down jacket. Now, I didn’t know that “C’mon, how you doin’” was as much of a Harlem thing as it was a general salutation. At least Alex didn’t walk up to a Crip and ask “Can you explain ‘Sup cuz?’” Because then he’d be dead. Yay gangs!
Off da chain!
It seemed fairly obvious that Magna would once again be heading to the boardroom considering their ability to communicate with the Harlem neighborhood seemed completely impaired. However, when Trump bellowed this week’s message, “Shut up and listen!” I second guessed myself. After all, as Tara adamantly stuck to her Mean Streetz approach, it seemed like she was actually going against Trump’s advice, and that’s never good.
Nevertheless, Tara was attached to her idea. I guess one person’s stubbornness is another’s commitment. When a chipper Jill Kramer showed up, Tara immediately jumped at the opportunity to explain all the social and symbolic levels to her painting. Um, she did realize this was an ad, right?
As the sun set and the teams grew weary, squabbles burst out in the Net Worth camp. Audrey and Craig had a little run in over some amazingly dumb painting issue, and while the producers wanted us to dwell on the conflict, I personally was distracted by Craig who, like Tara, chose this episode to come out of his shell. Yes, Craig finally spoke, and oddly enough, he sounded like Bill Cosby. Especially since he kept calling Tara “Claire.”
Magna meanwhile decided it was high time to get a plan. Alex found some local kids who suggested the group incorporate the image of cash falling from the sky. Wow, I guess you can really get in touch with the demographic if you shut up and listen. Hey, wait, that’s what Donald Trump said too! Hmmm… I wonder who will win?
With the added perspective of the Harlem kids, Magna suddenly had a direction. “Mad props it is! Bling bling it is!” yelled Alex exhuberantly as he embraced his inner thug. And what better way to conceptualize mad props and bling bling than via a giant, cash-holding fist with the word “BLING” tattooed onto it. When Bren of all people suggested this, Alex responded, “That’d be tight!” Yeah boyyyyy! See Alex? An afternoon in Harlem and already you’re catching on!
The next morning, Trump decided to tour the graffiti sites, and luckily for us, some studio session musician was kind enough to slap together his very own Donald Trump rap. The lyrics were mostly indiscernible, but occasional lines like “DT’s in the hood!” and “Trump in da stretch, gonna see what’s next” reassured me that this young MC would never live out his 8-Mile dreams. That is unless he plans to battle some homely lady from human resources.
Click here to listen to the rap song. The audio sounds a little muffled at first but then becomes sharper. The moment the sounds improves corresponds exactly to when Trump’s limo door opens; so we’re supposed to believe that he actually was listening to this in his car. Bravo, sound engineers!
Eventually the teams finished up their graffiti, and the executives from Sony came by to judge. Tara immediately took all credit for the mural, noting that it was her vision and her idea etc. Of course Chris was none too pleased with this as he yelled in an interview: “ALL SHE SAID WAS I, I, I, I , I!!!!” He then picked up the park bench near him and threw it across the road. Five people died.
Still, Net Worth was pretty confident about their piece, and when the focus group made up of local residents walked in, Tana couldn’t contain her excitement. “Oh yeah!” she exclaimed quietly. What was she so exuberant about? Did Uma Thurma walk in?
After examining Net Worth, the execs shuffled a few blocks over to Magna where Alex explained how much the locals love mad props and bling bling. Okay Alex. I know those are the only two hip hop terms you know, but the more you say them, the less cool they become. Actually, they weren’t very cool before you knew them either. Just… stop talking.
That evening, the teams gathered outside the boardroom and waited a whole hour (as evidenced by an old fashioned clock transition) for the Playstation guys to finish talking with The Donald. When they finally were allowed in, the candidates watched footage from the focus groups. Tana had a proud, I-Took-Tylenol-And-Now-My-Headache’s-Gone look about her which quickly faded as it became evident that Net Worth was going to lose. I half expected her to shake her head and say “Oh shucks! Golly!” Instead she stood quietly with her team as Magna cheered at their victory.
As a reward for winning, Magna headed to the studio of some hoity photographer to get portraits done. Unfortunately, the photographer denied Kendra’s request for a novelty photo of her on a magic carpet. While the models curiously circled around Bren and his bow tie, Trump showed up to partake in the activity. It was pretty cool, but seriously, when was the last time Trump DIDN’T show up for a photo op?
Trumps brings warmth to Mrs. Klein’s third grade class
Anyway, the crew took some nice photos, but I had a hard time believing that the portraits would have cost Vogue $100,000 each. I also had a hard time figuring out why Stephanie was the only one who seemed to be getting a full makeover for her photo. Man, she really does have a sense of entitlement.
Back at the loft, Tara complained that because Audrey didn’t tell her about all the different landscapes of the game, they lost. The only problem with that logic was that, well, Audrey DID tell her about the different landscapes. Nevertheless, Tara made Audrey her #1 target as they headed into the boardroom. She cited Audrey’s enormous (READ: fleeting) flare up with Craig as a major liability to the team. But wait! Audrey had a response. “Craig seems to think it’s okay to speak in a manner that’s demeaningful,” she insisted. Demeaninful? Is that like when someone is demeaning AND meaningful at the same time? And what exactly do you say to a demeaningful comment? “Man, you really hurt my feelings, but you had a very interesting point!”
George meanwhile was very snippy. He chastened Tara for coming up with a concept before even meeting with the Sony guys and was particularly ornery about their mural’s tagline. “Where did you come up with the line ‘Tear It Up’? WHERE??” he asked, adding “When I used to work at a soda jerk, if you said ‘Tear it up’, it meant the machines needed cleaning. You don’t joke about that!”
Eventually, the scrutiny fell on Tara as the biggest cause for the loss seemed to come from her ineffective mural. “It was a Sony ad, not a community ad,” Jill admonished. Eventually, Tara picked Audrey and Craig to come back with her to the boardroom. It was a fairly personal pick considering Craig hadn’t done anything wrong except naysay Tara, and when Trump asked him if he had any beef with Audrey, he gave an unusual response. “I had a talk with Audrey. She’s newly married… She stated that her husband is sitting around waiting for her to come back, and he’s not doing anything.” Okay, well, that really made no sense and had nothing to do with anything. Well done Craig.
Of course The Donald was immediately enthralled with this domestic saga. “Do you have a non-ambitious husband?” he asked Audrey. We can now add this to the tally of strange personal questions from The Donald, joining the ranks of “Are you not a homosexual?” and “Are you the sexiest man in the suite?”
While these oddball interactions between Audrey and Craig were fun, in the end, the failure in this task fell squarely on Tara’s shoulders. Trump reluctantly fired her, thus solidifying her status as “considerably less street cred than before.” Tara seemed smart and savvy, but she was just as culpable as she was capable. You like that? Capable and culpable? Yeah, you’re welcome. RIP stupid Sex & The City punnage.
What did you think? Who had the better mural? Did Tara deserve to get fired?