On this week’s Apprentice, I was all geared up for the second coming of “The Rubble Man” after the previews promised a wild and crazy songwriting challenge. The good news was that we did indeed get a nice sampling of corporate types testing out their windpipes, but unfortunately, when it came to the bulk of the singing this episode, we were left in the capable and therefore unentertaining hands of professionals. For shame. In this age of Bai Ling and William Hung and the Apprentice’s very own Adam (“FREAKIN!!!!”), it’s a near crime not to have atonal reality stars try their hand at some vocals. Maybe Trump just didn’t want his very special Emmy night crooning to be overshadowed. Don’t worry, Donny. We’ll never forget it…The episode kicked off on a very rainy, very gloomy night in New York City. Oh the harsh city! So unforgiving! Much like this demanding interview process! As stoplights flicked from red to green, we returned to the suite to find our dearest Clay bitter about not getting exemption from firing. His eye-rolling and snipping were momentarily halted so that everyone could react to the double firing of Marshawn and Brian, but then it was back to the bitchiness faster than you can say “Patterned shirts!” Sensing a rift in the team, Capital Edge assembled outside to perform that most futile of traditions: the losing team pep talk. You know how that goes. Empty comments like “Whatever happened is over and done,” and “We can’t change that now,” and “We need to be a team.” In this particular powwow, Alla told Clay, “I think we could have a strong team if you could just get over your personal feelings.” To which Clay retorted passive-aggresively, “The personal feelings that were put on me?” Ah yes. That’s the Clay we love: petty, bitchy, difficult, petulant. The total package.
“I call him a roadblock,” Alla explained to us in an interview. “He objects just for the sake of objecting.” C’mon. Just call him a cockblock. Let the censors bleep it out later. You know you want to, Alla.
Anyway, back at the Capital Edge grand conclave, Adam implied that Clay did a below-par job on the latest task, causing the beleaguered teammate to adopt his most thrill prissy voice and say, “WE are done. Goodnight!” And with that, Claymarosa ushered his teammates away by performing the rarely seen passive-aggressive bow. You know the type: the hands clasping each other behind the back, the little rock on the heels of the feet, the quick torso slant. It’s all an elaborate gesture that’s supposed to imply, “I am so full of rage that I must hold myself back from assaulting you,” but instead it usually comes off as, “I am an annoying bitch.”
Well, despite this harrowing Clay experience, we greeted the next day full of promise and optimism as hopeful music blared on the soundtrack. Why, it made me want to seek out one of those joyous Rent commercials on my Tivo (cut to me having “Seasons of Love” in my head for the next two hours. I haven’t even seen the damn show. Stupid musical commercials). We then cut to 6:30 AM in the suite, and what was Clay doing? Dicing some oranges! One might think he was preparing breakfast, but those of us in the know could immediately tell he was preparing to bedazzle his polka dot shirt with pieces of oranges. Anyway, Rhona called up, which meant we got to see the always suggestive image of Clay handling the dildo phone. This morning’s assignment: meet Trump at Trump Modeling and Management. Sounds like a plan, Rhones! We then cut to Rhona hanging up with Clay, but not before she randomly burst into giant RhonaLaughter and chuckled, “Okay, bye!” Looks like somebody’s having a fantastic morning. Unfortunately, we never got to find out what was so funny, which didn’t surprise me. After all, Rhona LOVES inside jokes!
Hey, look what Clay found up his ass!
Later, we found Trump at his agency leering at Jennifer, the reigning Miss Universe. “She’s been our best,” Trump boasted, as if she were some sort of high-performance mini-van. Then, in an odd bit of staging, the teams entered the room, causing Trump to say, “Wait right there.” We watched the candidates come to a halt, and seconds later, Trump said to his gang, “Okay, let’s go.” He then emerged from one room and into the main area where the candidates were. Now hold on a second here. If Trump were in a whole other room, why would he have told everyone to wait right there. How could he have seen them? Can he see through walls? Or does he just have a supernatural sense about these things. Trump then turned to the camera and blared, “HAVING A SUPERNATURAL SENSE IS A THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS!”
Anyway, with the teams uneven, Clay requested to head over to Excel. Trump granted him this wish, and as Clay joined the ranks of Rebecca and Randal, he said, “I’ll take a hug.” Meanwhile, Adam turned to Alla and said, “I’ll take a gummy smile.”
With the teams reshuffled, it was time to get down to business. For this week’s task, the groups would be working with XM Radio. And now, Mr. Trump, please do your thang: “XM Satellite Radio has a value of 9.5 BILLION DOLLARS!” Only 9.5? LAME. Anyway, the teams would have to audition unsigned singers, sign them, write a song, and supervise the creative aspects of a record. The song will then play live on “XM Café” (also known as the boring station that wannabe hip adults listen to). Trump then informed everyone that “The team whose song best fits the format of XM Café as judged by the XM Satellite executives wins.” He then added that teams would then take the XM bus to the XM reward where they’d eat XM seafood at the XM restaurant in XM City.
As teams headed off, we then caught up with Claymarosa who expressed an undying thirst for revenge. He basically wanted to win so that his old teammates would look bad and realize they were worse off without him. “Sure will suck to be them!” Clay sneered. Yes, sure will suck to be them… when their lasting legacy is NOT being a worthless bitch.
Well, we headed off to commercial, and when we came back, Trump’s big lesson of the week was “Creative Balance” — as evidenced by Trump eying an ad with his trademark squinty face and saying, “I like them. That’s a very smart ad. Nice presentation, good job.” Ooooh. FEEL THE CREATIVE BALANCE!!!
We then cut away to a peppy musical interlude featuring the various steel drummers, sax players, and sundry musicians lining the streets of Manhattan. Why, one might even say that music was in the air! We then found ourselves at Apprentice Idol auditions as Randal, Rebecca, and Clay filled in for the erstwhile Randy, Paula, and Clay. It was a pretty good match, if you think about it. Randal and Randy are black (and share similar names), Paula and Rebecca are most likely on painkillers (damn that hockey injury), and Clay and Simon are both beguilingly effeminate (plus they sprout some mean man-boobs in a tight, black shirt). Well, Project Manager Rebecca selected a Nigerian musician named Jidé because “he was an artist that was versatile with a lot of flavor in his voice.” Excuse me, it’s “flava.” Let’s get it right, Rebecca. Meanwhile, over at Capital Edge, Felisha volunteered to be Project Manager and then had to sit through a typical garden variety of crappy, sleep-inducing musicians that you’d probably find on a Starbucks CD (let alone sipping a latté nearby as well).
Ultimately, Felisha chose a guy named Levi whose speciality seemed to be crooning on the piano and making me contemplate suicide. “He’s not going to be a one-hit wonder. He’s gonna last the test of time,” said insta-record exec Felisha. To be fair, she’s not exactly wrong. He is gonna last the test of time, meaning that in ten years from, we still will never have heard from him.
Over at Excel, the team was trying to get to know Jidé and learn about his life story. You know, find out what is it that makes Jidé so Jidé-ish. Well, it turns out that as a child, he was always in love with girls, but things never worked out because of his weight. Awww. Jidé is a Biggest Loser! Poor guy. How could you not love this onetime fatty? Even Carolyn was into him, but then again, we all know about her rampant dalliances with Jungle Fever.
Anyway, Clay suggested a song called “What about me?” (which I believe is a crappy song from the ’80s. Here, enjoy this silly MIDI version), and within seconds, Jidé was crooning out, “What about meeeeeee?” Clearly, the words must have struck a chord in Clay because all of a sudden, he let loose with his own contributions, soulfully singing, “I’ve got struggles in my past!” Sing it, Clay! Can I get a witness! Clay then jumped to his feet and tore off his business suit, revealing a tiny, shimmering, sequined Tina Turner dress. “I’VE GOT STRUGGLES IN MY PAST!!! Big wheel keep on turnin’! Proud Clay keep on burnin’!” he sang as he danced around for the next fifteen minutes. It was wonderful.
Okay, Clay did not turn into a one-man Tina Turner musical revue (at least not on camera). Instead, he pitched a fight when Rebecca felt that “What about me?” was too whiny and feminine. Randal then suggested “It’s My Time,” but Clay insisted that it sounded like Jidé was bragging. And that’s supposed to be better than a self-pitying song about entitlement? Apparently so. “It screws everything that I’ve written in the last forty minutes,” he complained, adding his usual hefty dose of IHATEYOUIHATEYOUIHATEYOU passive aggression.
Over on the other team, things were going swimmingly with Alla, Felisha, and Adam. And is that really any surprise? This team does feature the musical genius behind “Delicious Wishes” and of course, “FREAKIN!” (I will mention that as often as I possibly can). Anyway, the Capital Edge song was titled “Nothing Can Be Everything,” and as the team worked out the lyrics and tune, George informed us that he used to be in radio. Yes, he pioneered the famed station Soda Jerk FM. Actually, in truth he claimed he was on the cutting edge of heavy metal. He then told us that when he first heard the music, he hated it, but when he found out he was selling lots of commercials, he said, “I love the music!” And with that, George let out a hearty chuckled. Oh grandpa. Always so happy.
The good news for Capital Edge was that their song seemed vaguely catchy, even if it did seem like the sort of crap you’d hear on an airplane (probably on some stupid station called “Attitudes” or “Connections”). The same couldn’t be said of the burgeoning Jidé mish-mosh, which Rebecca explained had gone from “the whole ‘what about me?’ chick lyric to Nigerian Seal meets Lenny Kravitz music.” Wow. Sign me up! The only thing better would have been Somalian Hootie meets Goo Goo Dolls rock. Clay, meanwhile, seemed to have rebounded from his lyrical disaster and was ready to be the Kris Kristofferson to Jidé’s Barbara Streisand: “I’m gonna push this guy to his limits and make him into a mega superstar!” First order of business: FIND HIM A PATTERNED SHIRT!!!
If we hold up one of those red cellophane decoders against Clay’s shirt, will we find a hidden clue to something?
Over at Capital Edge, Felisha seemed to be concerned that the music was too jazzy and not pop-rocky enough. But don’t worry, the lame factor was just right. Well, ‘Lisha went and told the studio musicians to change up the arrangements… and they did. Okay, it wasn’t the most exciting episode. What do you want me to do?
You know what this scene needs?
After a quick Felisha/Alla boogey-down session, we then caught up with Team Excel practicing their presentation, and behold! Jidé was wearing a patterned blazer! My gosh, Clay’s gotten to him! Anyway, Rebecca attempted to read through her pitch, but midway through she was interrupted by Clay who pantomimed a sad violin. This, mind you, was coming from the man who wanted to write a song called “Why Me?”
Anyway, Capital Edge met with the execs first, and when one of the XM guys named Lee met Levi, he cracked this classic: “I’m Lee, no ‘vi.’” Oh you! GOOD ONE, LEE!!
Lee No-Vi: If Horatio Sanz and Richard Dreyfuss had a lovechild…
We then paused the action momentarily so we could begin TrumpWatch 2005. Yes, in traditional, bombastic style, The Donald emerged from Trump Tower to commence his epic journey to the XM headquarters, and as the billionaire walked to his limo, he was greeted by well-wishers and tourists and old women with cameras. I’m surprised no peasants or serfs offered him their first born in exchange for a goat and a sack of grains — or at least the opportunity to gaze upon his most powerful coif.
Back at the XM studios, Capital Edge premiered Levi’s song on XM Café — the preferred station amongst 45 year old men who still think Santana duets are hip. It was sort of cool hearing the finished product, and the best way to describe “Nothing Can Be Everything” is Maroon 5 meets crap. Or should I say, Maroon 5 meets even more crap. Basically, if Eagle Eye Cherry were still around, he’d LOVE this song.
Well, the listeners — at least the ones we heard — seemed to really dig this incredibly average song as they heaped the platitudes on strong. Then again, these were probably all of Levi’s friends and family; so it didn’t really count in my book. Next up was Excel, who had this whole rehearsed presentation ready to go. Basically, Rebecca was going to talk up Jidé and then at a certain point, Clay was to open the door and in would walk the Nigerian Seal/Lenny Kravitz. Sounds easy, right? Well, let’s not forget we’ve got Claymarosa on the task. Rebecca began addressing the execs, and after about thirty seconds, Clay arbitrarily opened the door, causing confusion and awkwardness as Jidé walked in. Instead of a grand entrance, the entire thing looked shoddy, almost as if Jidé had been late for the presentation. And let’s not forget how unprofessional it looked to have Rebecca trail off her speech quietly amidst it all. Smooth. Real smooth.
Nevertheless, Rebecca persevered and continued to pitch Jidé so aggressively, she bordered on tyrannical. HIS MUSIC IS REALLY GOOD. YOU WILL LIKE HIS MUSIC!!! Unfortunately, Excel hit another roadblock as Randal of all people presented a poster with incorrect information about XM Café. Oh man. This ship is sinking faster than… the FASTEST SINKING SHIP IN THE WORLD!!! Let’s just get to the music.
Well, the Jidé song was certainly livelier than the Levi tune, but it was also regrettably more boring, if that makes any sense. The lack of any good hook probably didn’t help, and soon enough Lee No-Vi leaned into his associate and mumbled, “Not a perfect match.” Ouch. Lee No-Vi is gonna take them DOWN!
Finally, it was time to hear from the people, and sure enough, the people were not happy. “I thought it was a little bit formulaic,” said one caller. “It was okay, I didn’t really hear any lyrics,” said another. Hmmm… maybe Levi’s family and friends were still calling in.
Eventually, Trump showed up in time to anoint a winner. The head XM exec clearly was inarticulate because he had to render his decision via a prolonged V.O., a practice normally reserved for The Donald. Unsurprisingly, Capital Edge took home the victory, and as a reward, the team earned a helicopter ride with Trump around Manhattan. We then cut to everyone piling into a helicopter where Trump bellowed to a pilot, “Circle 40 Wall Street! Circle the Empire State Building! Circle Trump World Tower opposite the United Nations. AND the United Nations!” In other news, Mark Burnett has just announced the latest spin-off, The Apprentice: Circlin’.
As the group headed into the friendly skies, Trump bragged, “If you did this in a car, it would take you all day. But it’s gonna take us twenty minutes.” Oh great. A twenty minute reward. Yay. Remember when they used to give winners diamonds and caviar? Those were the days.
Anyway, the tour went on without incident; although, there was one odd moment. “Now here’s a beauty that’s coming up,” Trump said in an introductory way, adding, “It’s the Empire State Building.” Wow, what is this crazy “Empire State Building” that you mention? Surely it must be some hidden gem in the city!
Well, enough with all this helicopter mumbo jumbo. We’ve got a Boardroom to prepare for. Randal expressed some concern that his typo would cost him his job, but let’s be serious. There’s no way Trump is gonna cut Randal in favor of Clay, at least not at this critical stage of the game.
Outside the Boardroom, the ever gimpy Rebecca seemed on the verge of teetering over as she finagled open the big doors. Seriously, she’s on freakin’ crutches. Can’t anyone open the door for her? Randal? Clay? ROBIN? Lazy receptionist. Anyway, once in front of Trump, the sparks flared, or at least shimmered briefly. To be honest, this wasn’t one of the more exciting showdowns. Clay once again insisted that his “What about me” brainchild was ignored, but Rebecca countered that it was “whiny” and “weak.” This caused Claymarosa to react with a shocked “WHAAAAA?” face, as if he hadn’t even heard this critique before. Ultimately, Trump declared Clay difficult to work with (no way!), but then decided to turn the harsh light of the interrogation onto Randal. Regarding the erroneous poster, he asked, “Isn’t that a firing mistake?” Uh oh. Don’t get rid of Randal! Stand strong Randman!!
Luckily, George swooped in to save the day by noting that the group didn’t lose the task because of Marketing. Phew! It’s okay Randal. You can wipe your forehead with relief. Your oily, oily forehead. Or could he?? After more group questioning, Trump returned his ire towards Randal and said, “You’re too good to put on a performance like that.” Uh oh. The music is building up. Will this be the upset of the century? Say it ain’t so!
“But in life, you’ve got to look at past events. And that’s called history,” Trump said (and yes, we know what “history” means). Uh oh, Clay. This is not gonna be good for you. Sure enough, Trump banged the table and shot off his finger gun: “Clay, you’re fired!” You know, it’s sort of sad. Not for Clay’s sake, but when Omarosa was axed on season one, that was just an epic, disastrous Boardroom. Surely I hoped Clay would leave in a hellstorm of bitchiness and rage, but alas, all we got was this meager confrontation. If it was any consolation, the prissy loser did provide some post-Boardroom antics as he smiled passive-aggressively (is there any other way?) at Rebecca and then refused to hug her. “No, you changed on me. That’s okay,” he snipped. He later added, “You said something you didn’t have to say about me.” Huh? What did she say? It’s times like these that I really wish Toral were around to whip Clay into shape. She would have hated this task though — especially if she had to sing. The Toral DOES NOT sing. Such acts bring shame and indignity upon her family and peers. After all, singing is something those cute secretaries do on their ever so precious weekends.
Well, Rebecca and Randal headed up to the suite, and before Clay went down to the street, the normally tight-lipped Robin chirped, “Goodbye Clay.” What’s up with the administrative workers loving Clay so much? First Rhona, then Robin. He must be giving them makeover tips. You just watch. Next week they’ll both be wearing polka-dotted blouses.
Meanwhile, in the Boardroom, Carolyn turned to The Donald and sighed, “This was a tough Boardroom.” Why? Because it was so boring? You is a crazy lady, C-Dawg.
We then saw Clay pile into his cab, and then came the moment we were all waiting for: his petty, vindictive response. “They’re going to lose the next task horribly, especially Rebecca with her broken ankle,” he said. Sooo is there going to be a marathon? I don’t understand why the broken ankle matters. Maybe there’ll be a dance marathon. Or a sock hop. I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.
What did you think about this episode? Glad to see Clay gone? Or sad that there’s no enemy now?