I knew tonight’s episode of The Apprentice had to be good because honestly, how could you not love the divine union of old people and Trump? Technically, the two never really crossed paths (unless you count Trump’s daily interactions with George), but having both prominently featured in one hour of reality television was more than enough to bring a smile to my face. Plus, everyone kept talking about cookies. I was ready to head down to Mrs. Field’s by the time this “Tethno Expo” had run its course. Old people, Trump, cookies — what more could you want?For such a funny episode, the show sure did start off sadly as a lonely saxophone played over the opening images. Was this an ode to Burnett’s own hard times now that his latest reality offering, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, has proven to be a major dud? Before I could really ponder that question (the answer is yes, by the way), we then returned up to the suite where Excel eagerly awaited the Boardroom victor. And yes, the sax was still wailing on the soundtrack. Most depressing intro ever! Apparently the suite had been moved to Skid Row.
Well, Markus shocked everyone as he walked in the front door, and after everyone took a moment or two to pick their jaws up from the floor, Josh told his team, “We should leave what happened in the Boardroom in the Boardroom.” Until tomorrow when you’ll happily throw Markus to the wolves, I’m sure.
Meanwhile, over with the women, a hobbled Rebecca returned to the Royal Dragon Rainbow, a.k.a. The Suite, with a broken ankle and a friend to boot. Yes, she and Toral had become fast friends in the wake of the Islander disaster last week (where Rebecca fell over on the ice). “Toral and I, I think that we have found friendship,” said Rebecca optimistically. Yay! Toral Friendship! This was the perfect time for Toral to tell us all about how wonderful her work ethic was, which meant she would undoubtedly be demonstrating some poor work ethics this episode. As for Rebecca, she brushed off her broken ankle setback, saying, “I never go down that easy.” Well, except that time you, uh, fell down on the ice, but that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, we knew tonight would have big things in store for Toral “Passion” Mehta as we then went back to her and listened to a fine piece of condescending commentary: “There are a group of women here that have seemed to have banded together based on the fact that they have no work experience. I like them all on a personal level. I think they’re cute people. If I had a secretarial job or an administrative job, I would happily hire any of these people.” Faaaaantastic. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new bitch. Goodbye Coral, hello Toral.
And for the record, I’m not sure if I totally disagree with Toral’s über-condescending remark. I mean, no disrespect to these women, but with softies like Kristi, Jennifer W., and the departed Melissa hanging around the suite, I wouldn’t necessarily call this the future distaff class of the Forbes 500. That’s okay though. I’m sure they’ll be happy enough to shoot a reality TV calendar and appear in a few Bally’s commercials.
After the commercial break, we found Trump talking to George and bedhead Carolyn about a new park. Ever the inquisitive sidekick, George piped up and asked, “How we going to handle the topography? There’s a lot of slope!” George HATES slope! Later, the candidates all filed into the area, and Trump informed them that they were standing in a brand new children’s park. Oh, and look! There’s one of the children now! Oh wait, it’s just Brian.
P.S. — Brian and Stacy from season two should totally hang out.
In one of the more bombastic statements in recent memory, Trump then boasted that “this park will someday be one of the most spectacular parks anywhere in the country.” Yes, especially with its scenic placement under the West Side Highway, and let’s not forget all that bountiful slope! This will really give Central Park, nay, Millenium Park, nay Yellowstone Park, nay Grand Canyon National Park a run for its money! What’s that you say, Grand Canyon? You’ve got an awe-inspiring natural wonder? Well, this park has a jungle gym. Yeah, it’s been broughten.
Move over, Golden Gate Park.
Anyway, this week’s task was for teams to give back to the community. They would have to throw a high-tech expo for old people, courtesy of the good people of Best Buy. Yes, there was blatant product placement. But what’s wrong with giving a shout out to BEST BUY, a company that I’m sure loves to GIVE FREE STUFF to people, including US. After explaining the task, Trump then opened the floor up to questions, at least from one person: “Markus, you have a question?” When the bumbling contestant wisely kept his mouth shut, Trump reacted with surprise. “I’m shocked,” he said. “Maybe he’s finally getting smart.” GETTING SMART IS A $45 MILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY.
Trump wrapped things up by saying, “Carolyn and George, as always, will be my eyes and ears.” And shaggy hair, I’d like to add. Seriously, did Trump fire Carolyn’s comb?
Over on Excel, Randal stepped up to be PM because one of the last things he did with his grandmother was take a picture of her on his cell phone and show it to her on a computer. Well, that clearly qualifies him for this task. Oh, but I won’t poke fun because it was actually very sweet. Plus, Randal outclasses everyone on his team. Over on Capital Edge, Rebecca stepped up, or rather, limped up to the Project Manager role to prove that she could be effective, even with a bum leg. Her first major decision: catering and presentation. She delegated this task to Jennifer W. (who?), whose largest impact on the show thus far was proudly representing “Prestige” during last week’s insta-classic Lamborghini presentation. Apparently, Jennifer W. had a background in event planning, “So I thought the fit was natural,” explained Rebecca. Rule #1 of The Apprentice: people can never perform what they are best suited for. Probably the only exception was Kendra and her superstar Pontiac promo. Otherwise, need I remind you of Chris last week or Maria Boren’s robotic QVC performance?
“I can hear better with one eye closed. I know, it’s weird.”
Well, the ladies headed out to a retirement community and began setting up, but I was somewhat distracted by Jennifer M. whose interview pose easily ranked as the most awkward of all time. With her back pressed against a beam and her body turned away from us, it was like witnessing a yearbook photo or Sears catalogue come to life.
“Hi, I’m Lisa Whelchel.”
The men, meanwhile, interviewed some old people to gauge their audience, and let’s just say, it was a tough crowd. Regarding computers, one old guy declared, “I feel like it’s really something from the devil.” To be fair, they had just forced him to visit Star Jones Reynold’s website. She is the author of the only dictionary that defines her.
Anyway, things got catty with the men after Markus proposed a Tivo exhibition (I’m sure the NBC sales department loved that). The guys all backed Markus’s idea. Well, everyone except Clay who not only snipped about the Tivo plan but snipped about it to George, right in front of the whole team. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well. In an interview, Josh called him the biggest bitch and added that he’s “front and center on everyone’s radar.” Everyone always front and center on Josh’s radar: the deli guy, the cleaning lady. I’m sure Trump’s even front and center with this guy.
We then learned this week’s big business lesson: “Inspire.” Wow, that was very Star Jones Reynolds-y. Nevertheless, The Donald explained the virtues and importance of inspiring one’s team, as evidenced by him yelling, “Go ahead, do it!” and “Bring Jennifer in!” Inspiring! For the record, this scene probably “inspired” several men to find a private corner after Miss Universe randomly walked into Donald’s office. Yeah, she was hot, but who was that sexy bitch behind her? You guessed it: Rhona! I thought we’d seen the last of her. Good to have her back on board. “Where else do you get a good time without Trump,” Trump asked. “Trump is Trump. What can I tell you?” The man does not lie, even in the third-person.
Back on the women’s team, Rebecca called her group together and laid out her plan of attack. Unfortunately, she was “clear” and “concise,” which meant it didn’t take long for Alla in an interview to call her leadership style “abrasive.” Yeah, god forbid a female leader ever be direct and focused. Memories of season two’s Pam flooding my brain… Later, at Best Buy, the girls complained that they just weren’t “jazzed” for this task. Stupid Rebecca. You should know better than to “organize” and “lead.”
On the men’s side, Randal and Mark confronted Clay about his attitude earlier, and while there was some back-and-forth (Randal demolished Clay), overall, it seemed like things were all good. Perhaps Markus said it best: “There’s still a lingering turd in the pool, but hopefully that will get fished out.” Huh. I would have used a snot/jacuzzi metaphor, but fecal flotsam works too.
Well, the men’s expo was first, and it seemed to be going off without a hitch. Markus rose to the challenge this week and rocked the Tivo demonstration, and everyone overall seemed to be having a blast. I was especially happy to see the old people bonding with George, especially near the hors d’oeuvres. “Have some. Everything’s delicious,” one senior said. I love old people. Well, George may not like slope, but he’s not one to poo-poo a solid cheese spread. The former soda-jerk employee happily dug in, and nearly every shot seemed to be of him stuffing his face with a cracker or cookie or any other tasty vittle he could find.
Yes, the men’s expo was so nice, Mark Burnett even accompanied it with fancy Grey Poupon violin music. The women, however, were stuck with stupid oboes and xylophones. Uh oh. And to make matters worse, a lonely balloon had strayed from its pack and was now wedged up in the ceiling. Why even bother competing? The men’s balloons were clearly more professional.
Anyway, we then cut to a close-up of a wheelchair as it slowly rolled into the exhibition. But surprise! It was Rebecca! Very clever, Mark Burnett! Nothing like an old-fashioned wheelchair fakeout to pep up an hour. Well, the old people did file in, but unlike the men’s expo, this one was somewhat less, uh, inviting. There were no posters, no intuitive layout designs, no cheese spreads. Instead, event coordinator extraordinaire Jennifer W. supplied everyone with cake and punch. Cake and punch. What is this? A sixth grade birthday party? Nevertheless, as she condescendingly handed out slices to people, Jennifer proudly noted that her cake read, “Techno Expo.” Aww, she was so happy. Too bad Carolyn was there to put the kibotch on that: “It does?” she asked. “It’s spelled wrong.” Sure enough, instead of a “c”, there was a “t”, thus creating the word, “Tethno.” Ha. Carolyn had been standing near that cake all too long. I just knew she was going to tear into it somehow. To paraphrase Eminem, “Nobody listens to tethno.”
Elsewhere on the women’s team, Toral revealed to us how her esteemed work ethic didn’t actually include learning about the products she was demonstrating. She was in charge of the high definition plasma TV, but unfortunately didn’t seem to know much beyond pressing the “okay” button. “Just press okay again,” she kept saying as the TV flipped from blue screen to blue screen to static screen to blue screen. Too bad she didn’t have a secretary to help out. Jennifer “Blair Warner” M., meanwhile, resorted to that old favorite of tricks: whoring out to get ahead. By wearing a skimpy exercise outfit, she happily flaunted what her momma gave her in front of the old men, hoping their Viagra-assisted boners would lead to high marks. Too bad George was still snacking at the cookie tray. He really missed out on quite the show.
Well, the teams eventually reconvened in the Boardroom (where the guys arrived dressed in stupid “Geek Squad” t-shirts) to hear the results. Capital Edge earned an average score of 7.9 on the evaluations, but Excel topped them with an 8.1. I then became nauseous as I stared at Trump’s tie, and when I regained focus, I saw that Randal had won exemption and his team’s reward would be to give electronics to sick children at the Montefiorre Medical Center in the Bronx. As for the girls, they headed back to the suite, and then the real fun began. Jennifer W. bawled that she felt stabbed in the back, mainly because just previously, Rebecca had said she was the weakest link on the team. Why, Jennifer was so miffed, she almost cussed (and therefore almost needed a piece of soap for her mouth). And understandably! Do you know how hard it is to buy a cake? Let alone one with proper spelling? Rebecca was way off-base.
“I gave them cake. What more can I offer, Lord? My breasts? Do you want my breasts??”
We then sat through a heartwarming, if not overly sentimental segment of the men walking through the hospital, giving away thousands of dollars worth of electronics. I don’t really want to get into it since I pretty much blocked the whole thing out of my memory, but needless to say, it was very Three Wishes. I’m shocked Amy Grant didn’t suddenly show up with a white feather floating gracefully by her head.
Later, Jennifer W. confronted Rebecca about the whole “weakest link” thing, but oddly enough, the sad “sick children” music was still playing, giving this entire conversation a certain tragic feel. Luckily, the music turned more devious eventually, especially when Jennifer began campaigning for Toral’s ouster. Unfortunately, what no one could anticipate was just how strong the ToralFriendship was. In the Boardroom, Toral was all about backing Rebecca, saying she did a great job as a project manager. She LOVES Rebecca. Might this be the new era of Tobecca? Unfortunately, Toral then started speaking vaguely about her team’s poor performance, using terms like “Some people” and “some equipment.” Usually, people say that when they’re being passive-aggressive to others; so it was quite amusing to watch Toral actually P.A. herself. Marshawn called her out on this, and said, “We’re not asking for the world from Toral, we’re asking for basic things.” You know, like PASSION! I’ll tell you something, keep an eye out for that Marshawn. Her tongue was quick and precise. She looks to be an ace in future Boardrooms.
Less adept with her Boardroom rhetoric was Toral who immediately alienated herself from the team. Showing that signature passion she made famous when she said, uh, “PASSION!”, Toral barked, “You have in general a group of people with very unimpressive work experience, poor professional education–” But Carolyn cut her off, saying, “Are you saying you’re the only person who deserves to be here?” Huminah huminah huminah…
Nevertheless, Toral explained why she and Rebecca deserve to be on Trump’s staff: “We think thoughts through before speaking.” Yes, as evidenced by your thorough preparation for your TV demonstration. Say what you will about Toral, at least she’s got PASSION! (snarl)
As fun as it was to watch Toral’s meltdown, we had more pressing things to deal with: mainly, snacks. Resident cookie monster George had quite the bone to pick. “It may interest you to know that the men had cookies, they had cheese. The cookies were GREAT cookies! I didn’t see anybody trying to eat one of your cookies!” he complained, adding, “In my day, we didn’t have television. We had cookies. if we served a cookie, you better believe it would be good!”
Carolyn then chirped about the cake — “It didn’t say ‘Techno Exposition.’ It said ‘Tethno Exposition,’” and as Rebecca’s face became increasingly shiny, she still stood by Toral, saying she wouldn’t bring her back into the Boardroom. Uh oh. Repeat of last week and the Markus fiasco? Trump asked the PM to explain. “I’m fearful that if Toral does not proceed on, then a woman may not have the intellectual–” she started before all the other ladies began clucking their disapproval. Even George got into the act, saying, “That’s way off base.” Oh no she di’int! But then Trump suddenly made George talk to the hand as he said, “No, don’t say that, George.” You see, Trump couldn’t dismiss Toral’s intellect, mostly because they shared the same alma mater — Wharton. A little favoritism, perhaps?
Well, Rebecca announced that she’d be bringing in both Jennifers, and to justify her actions, she delivered a long, well-stated speech about integrity and loyalty. I half expected soaring trumpets and drums by the end of it. Either way, it won me over, and Trump too. “Toral, you should drop to your knees and thank her. Because I don’t get it,” said Trump, despite his admiration of Rebecca’s loyalty.
Later, Rebecca returned to the Boardroom with the Jennifers, and Trump essentially told Jen M. that she’d be safe unless she opened up her mouth and said anything stupid. The scrutiny then returned to Rebecca, with Trump calling her hard headed. George echoed this, exasperatedly saying, “A good executive has to have a certain amount of flexibility. Where’s the flexibility?” Where I tell you??? Luckily Trump had the answer: “She has no flexibility.” At least, none like Melania has. Oooh – cheap shot!
Soon though, the harsh interrogation light fell on poor Jennifer W., who was not unlike a confused fawn looking for its mama doe. Carolyn despised her Expo presentation, and if there’s anything that gets Carolyn mad, it’s when business women act weak. Jennifer defended her choices though: “I spun off on my grandmother. She loved cake, that’s why I chose that. I picked cookies because I knew some people wouldn’t like cake.” WELL! Then it’s foolproof! I mean, people. She provided cake AND cookies. What else could you want from her? She’s not Superman. Oh, and just to show she went the extra yard, she noted, “And I even had sugar-free cookies for the diabetics!” Just hire her now! Ladies and gentlemen, we have our next Apprentice!
Well, Jennifer’s tactic of combining a weak defense and a non-existent offense did her in. Despite Rebecca’s questionable decision, Trump was won over by her loyalty and determination, and opted to fire Jennifer W.. The poor girl. She looked like she’d just witnessed a puppy getting run over. And adding insult to injury, she then had to help Rebecca out of her chair. You might as well just spit on her too while you’re at it.
“But I had sugar free cookies…”
Afterwards, Trump reclined back in his chair and predicted that Rebecca would be really excellent or a total disaster. I’d like to think excellent, but after tonight, it won’t take long for her team to completely sabotage her. I’m saying Alla’s going to be the last woman standing. Which would be funny… because she was a stripper.
The show ended with Jennifer riding her taxi of disgrace past that distracting, half-naked guy on a billboard. “I’d just like to say that I am a good event planner,” she said, adding, “And if you’re children are thinking about throwing a bowling or miniature golf party, I am your woman.”
What did you think? Did Rebecca make a wise decision? Should Toral have been fired instead? Or was Jennifer the obvious choice? And please, feel free to write with PASSION!