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Wow. Talk about a disturbing cliffhanger. We’ve seen our fair share of final challenge cliffhangers on The Apprentice — bailing celebrities, inclement weather, more bailing celebrities — but last night’s twist was completely unexpected. In fact, I’d say it was totally random. And gross. And scary. I almost felt like I was watching the first five minutes of House. It was such a strange turn of events that I nearly forgot about Lee’s head-scratching personnel picks for his final team. Basically, everything was kind of weird and nutty on this penultimate episode. Even the placement of the show itself — Memorial Day, four days after the normal television season had ended — seemed oddly distracting. I mean, all the other reality shows have long since wrapped up, and here we are, still plugging away with The Apprentice. The show’s like a fifth year senior. Or that really lame guy who stays at the party entirely too long. That’s not to say that I want this wonderful season to end. It’s just that after American Idol wraps up, all other finales feel a bit… anticlimactic. Especially when the remaining contestants (cough, Lee, cough, Sean) are on the (very) lame side.We started last night’s episode with a neat little recap of Roxanne and Allie’s demise. For those of you who may have forgotten, both women went into the Boardroom last week as friends and then quickly devolved into two bickering harpies, trying to claw out each other’s eyes and gain favor with The Donald. Unfortunately, Trump was dismayed by the flagrant disloyalty these best buds showed each other, and so he simply swung the axe extra wide and sent both of them packing (swinging axes? Packed bags? Sorry, metaphors must be mixed for such a momentous occasion).
Anyway, after the recap was over, we caught up with Sean and Lee waiting in the suite for one of the girls to return (heh, they’re not going to return, suckahs!). I couldn’t help wondering whether or not Trump would be ascending to the living quarters to deliver the good news (as he had done last season post-Felish/Alla firing). It didn’t look like such a visit would be in store. That’s probably because Trump had all the respect for Randal and Rebecca, two of the best finalists ever, as opposed to Lee and Sean, two of the very worst.
Tired of strumming his fingers on the table, Sean finally made a bold proclamation. “You know what?” he said to Lee, “I’m just going to eat because I’m hungry, and I really don’t care to wait for them. I really don’t care!” He then added, “Plus, I really want to start my nightly Notting Hill screening early this evening.” Okay, he didn’t say that, but he did get all fussy as he fixed himself some dinner. We then saw Lee already chomping down on some food. That’s right, Lee. Oops! Somebody forgot to wait!
The opening credits rolled, and then when returned to the suite where the guys were still eating dinner. Suddenly, the phone rang. What? The phone was ringing? It never rings at night! The guys stared at it as if it were some awful omen of things to come. Maybe it was the killer from Scream! HE’S IN THE NEXT ROOM! (Oh, how I would have loved for some Jiffy-Pop to explode at that moment!)
Okay, okay. There were no stalkers or murderers or people seeking vengeance on Sydney Prescott. Instead, it was dearest Robin requesting the men’s presence down in the Boardroom. Tea and crumpets would be served. No, they wouldn’t be. I don’t know why I said that. (But if this were Martha’s Apprentice, I’m sure it could have been arranged). Well, even though this call had nothing to do with any sort of horror villain, the guys certainly became scared nonetheless. They had no idea why they had to go back downstairs, and as they freaked out, we suddenly saw Sean in an idiotic black turtleneck, black blazer outfit. Shut up, SPROCKETS.
“He’s probably going to ask us who we think should be fired,” Lee predicted as he rushed back into his suit. Oh irony! Nevertheless, the guys were not happy about this because they knew one thing: going into the Boardroom was never a good thing. Still, they hustled out the front door (even though Lee still hadn’t put on his tie) and headed down to the Boardroom where Trump greeted them like a giant, happy Buddha.
“Generally speaking, the Boardroom is not a place where you want to be,” The Donald said. Being in a place where, generally speaking, you don’t want to be is a THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY! Sorry. I just had to.
Nevertheless, Trump continued: “But tonight, it’s a little bit different. I congratulate you both. I fired Roxanne. I fired Allie. You are the final two. So that’s really a great achievement. It’s an amazing achievement.” He then added, “It’s possibly the greatest achievement in man’s history. Therefore, I shall call it Trump Achievement.”
After some goofy grins by Sean and Lee, Trump then told the guys that he wanted them to go back upstairs, look at the candidates who’ve been fired, each pick three of them, and form a team. The Donald then promised, “I’m going to give you the hardest task you’ve had so far.” Yes, they’d have to be Melania’s wet nurses. Commence suckling NOW!
Sadly, the wet-nurse thing was just a hopeful guess that would later turn out to be wrong (Blast!). We wouldn’t get to hear what the big challenge would be until later. In the meantime, Trump sent the boys out of the Boardroom, which meant Lee could once again ingratiate himself like the Grade A kiss-ass we know him to be. “I’m up for the challenge, Mr. Trump,” he said, just before walking out the door. God, SHUT UP!
“Good, just get out of here,” Trump said, waving him off. Before I could even say it, Donald then added, “Frickin’ politician, LEE!” Ha, EXACTLY.
The men then stepped into the elevator, and as the doors closed, we saw Sean do that fist-pumping / air-punching / mini-dance he’s prone to doing. I don’t know if he’s named the move yet, but I personally call it “THE MOST ANNOYING THING EVER.”
The guys then returned to the suite, and surprise, surprise — the whole gang was there; every fired candidate smiling and cheering (and secretly driving needles into their imaginary voodoo dolls). Lee and Sean were surprised to say the least, and as they hugged all their fallen comrades, Lee asked, “How did everyone get so good looking all of a sudden?” Well, not you Brent. Although, that four bagel diet has been working wonders… for the sales at the local bagel shop.
Well, no reunion would be complete without Sean waxing romantically about all the great virtues of laptop bag impresario Tammy. It was all gushing, all the time from Sean, and I don’t think I was the only one in America who yelled “SHUT UP” at the TV. Actually, I didn’t yell that, but I thought it really hard. For me, the only love story I cared to watch was between Lee and Lenny. “I love you so much,” The Russian told Lee at one point, adding, “I ride in blimp for you.” Okay, he didn’t say that last part (although, I totally believe he would).
The camera then panned over to Allie and Roxanne, who were still obviously bitter about their firing — oh, about twenty minutes ago. Hey, weren’t they supposed to be in a cab? Did they just take it for a ride around the block before coming back? Don’t tell me this scene was filmed at a later date and time!
Anyway, after the commercial break, the two finalists began the dirty business of assembling their teams. Of course, Sean wanted Tammy (probably so he could address her as “Love” as many times as possible), but here’s a little surprise: he also wanted Andrea too. Yes, the oft-maligned control-freak who’s never afraid to boast about her sticker empire. I didn’t think she would make Sean’s team, but then again, it wasn’t the worst choice out there either. But what of that last spot? Brent surely campaigned for it in his awkward, annoying way. Tarek did too, and remember Dan? He made quite the impassioned plea. “I want to be a king maker at this point,” he said. Apparently he had given up on his previous dream of being The Freshmaker.
Oh, and no scene of ass-kissing could ever be complete without some grade-A bullshit courtesy of Allie. “Not that it matters,” she said, “but I do want to be your lifelong friend. I do mean that.” Yes, I’m sure she means that with all her heart. In other news, Allie has NO HEART.
Tarek then campaigned for himself some more, saying, “I think the best example of my work ethic is that I worked at McDonalds for two years starting out, and then I worked at a sewage treatment plant for three summers.” Great. So if this final challenge has to do with McDonalds and a sewage treatment plant, you’ll be perfect!
Believe it or not, it looked like this little speech may have won over Sean. It certainly worked wonders on Andrea, who believed she and Tarek were the smartest people there anyway. I’m not sure if that’s saying much about this pool of candidates. Anyway, Sean redirected some gushiness away from Tammy for half a second to praise Orlando Bloom, er, Tarek. “I even admire the swagger that you have. That very cheeky charm,” Sean said. Uh, was he hitting on him? Tammy might want to up her game a bit.
Meanwhile, when it came to Lee’s team, I had a sense that no one really wanted to work for him. After all, who wants to slave away for a young kid who kisses ass at every corner? Of course, this didn’t stop Allie from cooing about Lee’s wonderful tie selection. Beware the living Cabbage Patch Doll! Anyway, Lee took Lenny aside first, which we knew could only lead to disaster. As the two settled down on a couch, Lenny said, “You know what? Nobody better than me. You know that.” Oh Lenny. How we’ve missed you so. Lee then bounced some team member ideas off of Lenny, and in the end, who did The Russian officially endorse? Pepi. Wait, what? Pepi? You’ve got to be kidding me. For those of you who don’t even remember who Pepi is, he was the guy who was fired after he was unable to contain the ever so scary Stacy/Brent flare up. I don’t know why Lenny wanted the guy — maybe he liked his high voice and funny accent — but Lee didn’t question it. He took on Pepi with the hopes that he’d be an intensely loyal and hard worker. And if Pepi tried to screw him over, don’t worry. Lenny had Lee’s back. “I wasn’t born yesterday,” Lenny warned Pepi. Great. Way to instill fear into the team. They’ll love that.
But what about that third person? Who would it be? Lee suggested nearly everyone to Lenny, but The Russian had a list of reasons why each person would be a horrible fit. I really couldn’t tell who Lee was going to take. Later, we found Lenny talking to Theresa about Lee’s decision, and annoyed that Lenny was taking such a consigliere role, Brent interjected and snidely asked, “Did he pick? I’m sorry, I just want to know.” But of course, this was Brent, which meant he was unilaterally ignored, causing him to walk away quietly. Oh Brent. It was a nice attempt at passive aggression, but you really should just stick to your bagels. You can always be their Project Manager.
Finally, Lee and Sean revealed their picks to the group. Sean officially chose Andrea, Tammy, and Tarek. Lee picked Lenny, Pepi (why? why?), and Roxanne. Kind of an odd choice at the end there. Didn’t really see that coming. And with that, Allie suddenly piped up and said, “Best of luck.” Translation: “I hope you all die, motherf-ckers!!!”
Well, we weren’t the only ones who thought Lee’s team was a bit, uh, odd. Sean was fairly confused too. “Pepi left in the second week. I’m surprised that Lee even knows Pepi’s name,” he said, and for once, I had to agree with him. I mean, Pepi? It just makes no sense at all.
The next day, the phone rang in the suite, and it was none other than Rhona on the line. She employed her best Naughty Secretary voice and gave the teams orders to meet Trump downstairs. This then led to a montage of morning activity, including Roxanne brushing her teeth. No offense to Roxanne, but she just is not the most photogenic tooth brusher out there. Anyway, as both teams headed downstairs, Sean once again caused groans all around as he told us, “By the end of this task, I hope to have the job, the girl, and a brand new life ahead of me.” If he proposes to Tammy at the live finale, that will just be too entirely lame. Worst Rob & Amber copycats EVER!
Well, the teams all walked by Robin, and for whatever reason, everyone decided today would be the day to give Robin a hearty hello. She must have been so excited — almost as much as the time she got to catch Trump’s jacket on last season’s finale show. As the people then filed into the Boardroom, Trump couldn’t help but be a tad surprised with the teams. “Roxanne, it hasn’t been too long,” he said, adding “And who are these other people? Pepi? Are you the doorman?” Okay, he didn’t say that, but George and Carolyn did smile at the team selection with mild shock. I’m sure they too never thought they’d see Lenny, Tarek, and Pepi again.
Trump then talked to everyone, and Lenny said with his typical growly voice, “I want him [Lee] to win with all my heart. We’re just going to bury them so deep, you know. Nobody will ever find them the next twenty years.” Sadly, I think he really meant that. He’s already got a hole dug out in Siberia for them.
Anyway, this season’s big final challenges were once again centered on event planning. One person would manage a Pontiac Barenaked Ladies concert at the Trump Taj Mahal to benefit the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation, that is). Another person would be managing the Pontiac Celebrity Hockey Game for America’s Bravest, which was Dennis Leary’s firefighter foundation. Oh, and in a lovely co-inky-dink, Dennis Leary’s show, Rescue Me kicked off its third season this week! Lovely!
Trump then talked a bit about the America’s Bravest charity, saying, “I’m not brave, to be honest with you. I’d make a lousy firefighter. George, I guarantee you, is not brave. He’s a good lawyer, but brave he’s not. He’s brave with his mouth, right George?” I half expected George to reply, “Back in my day, you had to be brave with your mouth. You couldn’t run a soda jerk with a cowardly mouth. You had to be brave!”
Well, Lee said that he wanted to run the Barenaked Ladies concert, causing Trump to comment, “I would always like to work with bare naked Ladies… Bare naked ladies sounds good to me!” Bare naked ladies are a THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY!!! Actually, they probably are. Yay porn!
Unfortunately for Sean, he too wanted the concert, but that was okay, Lee quickly switched to the hockey event, or “ice skating” as Trump called it. So that was settled. The teams then left the Boardroom, and as the doors closed, Carolyn suddenly burst out laughing. “Who’s the guy on the far right?” she asked, referring to Pepi. Amazingly, Trump didn’t know. He had to refer to some sort of sheet on his table. Literally, none of them could remember when he was even fired. And it wasn’t that they’d simply forgotten his name. They didn’t even recognize him. “‘Pepi, you’re fired.’ Did I say that?” Trump asked. Okay, when I was joking before about Trump not remembering who Pepi was, I didn’t actually expect him not to remember who Pepi was.
We then went to commercial where we received the umpteenth update about this week’s Apprentice texting sweepstakes. Since no one would be fired this week, the question was the significantly less quantifiable, “Who’s chosen the better team?” Amazingly, 58% of the voters believed that Lee had picked a better team. Did they not see Pepi and Lenny? What was everyone thinking?
When we came back from the break, we caught up with Synergy (a.k.a. Sean’s group) at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. This wasn’t what I’d call a totally fascinating segment. We watched the team meet, talk with execs, and ponder all the moving parts. Great. Over at Gold Rush, the team was meeting with a large woman named Liz, who worked at Dennis Leary’s company. She was in charge of dealing with the charity, and off the getgo, we could tell she’d be a difficult ballbuster. She was very unimpressed with Lee’s big ideas for the fundraiser, which pretty much centered around auctions. Lee tried to improvise some spectacular prizes like a yacht ride around Manhattan, but yeah, Liz was not that impressed. Look, all he needed to do was offer up an all-you-can-eat buffet, and Liz would have been happy. Oh, I KID! I KID!
Eventually, Liz said, “If you want to throw together a keg of beer, nobody’s really interested in doing that.”
“Really. Okay. Wow,” Lee replied. Wait, was he seriously considering that? A keg of beer for the event? I sure hope that wasn’t one of Pepi’s ideas.
Liz then said, “You’ve been to the website, right?” To which everyone said “Oh yes.” Translation: “No. We’ve never been.”
Lee then told us in an interview, “You know what? If I don’t know every detail going into these meetings, I’m fine with that as long as I learn.” Yeah, who needs details? I’m sure Lee will be just fine…
Ultimately, Gold Rush left the meeting with Liz, but not before she said, “Good luck. You’re going to need it.” Shut up, LIZ. You’re the one who decided to leave your event in the hands of reality stars (who’d only have one day to plan it out anyway).
We then headed over to Chelsea Piers which is where the hockey event would be taking place. Roxanne was all atwitter about the celebrity roster. Showing up would be Jason Priestley, Michael J. Fox, and luminous actress of stage and screen, Jaime Pressly. Wonderful. We then saw Lee meeting with the Pontiac execs, and after taking them around the rink and whatnot, he then tried see what they could contribute to the fundraiser. Lee and Pepi mentioned something about matching funds, but then they got sidetracked when Lee asked if Pontiac would allow Dennis Leary to auction off two cars in between periods.
“Two cars?” the execs said. They so didn’t want to do it, but with the cameras trained on them and the presence of Liz and her charity lurking in the air, they begrudgingly said yes.
“Don’t screw it up!” the bald exec said. Seriously, he was NOT happy about this. Shut up, stingy executive! Afterwards, the other Pontiac rep told the camera that they might have entertained the idea of matching funds, but Lee became so preoccupied with the car auction that it was all sort of lost. As a result, he missed out on what could have been an important angle. Oops! Liz will be furious.
Over at Synergy, we found Sean gushing over “Tam’s” ideas, which weren’t particularly special. He decided that he and “Tam” would go meet with the head of catering for the hotel, and while they did that, Tarek and Andrea met with a Pontiac exec. The program suddenly ground to a halt as we sat through thirty seconds of blatant Pontiac shilling (oooh! Look at all those features! A hardtop convertible! Thrilling!). Finally, we cut back to Sean and Tammy overseeing the menu, and wouldn’t you know it? Sean was still smitten with Tammy! “I’d be in there like swimwear if I had the opportunity,” he said, producing one of the more labored sexual comments of the evening.
Meanwhile, Tarek and Andrea finally shut up about the damn Pontiacs and got down to business. Like Synergy, they too managed to squeeze out two free cars, but this time for a raffle. I have to say, this exec was much cooler than the ones that visited Synergy. Then again, it’s much easier handing over two free cars to Tarek and Andrea, who at least give off a vague appearance of professionalism as opposed to Lee and Pepi, who come off as an overeager kid with his goofy sidekick. Kind of like Spongebob and Patrick.
Anyway, I assumed that everything was going just dandy on Synergy, but then Tarek spoke up that it was sort of poor form that Sean had opted to choose menu items instead of meet with a major executive/sponsor. Oops! Tarek was kind of right about that! Then again, he may have just been bitter than he didn’t get to spend his afternoon amongst crème brûlées and light apértifs.
We then went to commercial, and holy reversal! America now thought that Sean had the better team. 69% to 31%. It’s about time people caught on.
Back at Gold Rush, Carolyn stopped by to quietly pass judgment and instill fear into the hearts of all the workers. Lee noted how surprised he was that the celebrities would require so much attention, causing Carolyn to say that she was surprised that Lee was surprised. She then told us, “Lee is definitely taking a laid back approach to this entire task. I don’t think he’s really displaying good leadership abilities. He just thinks the event is going to run itself.” Uh oh. The Ice Queen strikes again!
And then the worst possible thing happened: Liz called, and let me tell you something. She already had an attitude. Yes, with Carolyn right there, Liz began harping on Lee about what the hell the event plan was. Not that she wasn’t entitled to. I think I too would be a bit concerned after that first meeting with Lee. Nevertheless, the team’s fearless leader told Liz, “We’re going to set up a silent auction.” Then, as if a stunning idea had just popped into his brain, Lee then said, “Actually, you know what we’re going to do?”
“I don’t think you know what you’re going to do,” Liz replied. Oh, snap! That was a total Liz Zing! Or as I like to call it, a Lizzing. By the way, don’t mind all this, Carolyn. Lee’s got everything under control…
Nevertheless, Liz continued to single-handedly ruin Lee’s shot at the Apprenticeship. “You don’t want to make excuses to a person who’s done this even for five years… I’m not feeling very comfortable right now at all,” she said. You just knew Carolyn was totally relishing this. Nevertheless, Liz announced that she was coming down to Chelsea Piers so she could walk through the event in person. Oh great. One problem: Gold Rush was completely unprepared for this. Roxanne even feared that Liz would be so upset that she might just pull out. Yeah, fat chance. No sponsor or non-profit is gonna pull away from nationally televised free publicity.
We then headed over to Synergy, and just when we were thinking that Sean had this one in the bag, disaster struck. Andrea approached Tammy and said, “I can’t even say it without crying. I have to go to the doctor. I’ve been coughing up blood.” Good god! She’s caught tuberculosis! She has consumption!
Tammy’s response? Eh. Completely unfazed. How could she not be totally alarmed? Andrea was coughing up blood! Oh, and in case that wasn’t bad enough, her nose suddenly started to bleed too. This was so first five minutes of House. What the hell was wrong with her? Did she have some strange disease? Had she come in contact with any illegally imported animals from Africa?
“Coughing up blood is not good,” Andrea said. Uh, no. It’s not. Anyway, Tammy may have been unsympathetic to Andrea’s plight, but at least Sean seemed sincerely rattled. He said that she didn’t even have a cold. It just happened randomly. Oh god. This was actually sort of scary. And disturbing. What the hell was going on? The hour ended with Andrea walking out of the casino, crying nervously all the way. I am totally unhinged. Can that happen to me? Will she die? Wow.
What did you think about this episode? Who has the better shot at winning? Sean minus Andrea? Or Lee with the headaches of Liz?