Okay, the title of this post kind of doesn’t make any sense. If only there were a guy named Luke on this task, and if only he were fired — then it would be awesome. But actually, it still wouldn’t make much sense because the implication would be that Luke was in fact the person in search of an apprentice. I guess I could have always called it “May the Marketing Force Be With You,” but honestly, it’s just not as fun. Okay, enough pondering. I like the sound of this headline, and it’s appropriate enough, given that Thursday’s Apprentice was all about Star Wars. Yes, the two masters of media hype — Donald Trump and Lucasfilms — joined forces (heh) to create one giant Deathstar of product placement. Did it work? Possibly. At the very least, it opened up the floor for many, many Star Wars puns — although, considering I’m not nearly the superfan that some of my friends and co-workers are, chances are you’ll probably only get about one Leia-bun’s worth of references. And don’t expect them to get much better than that.Thursday’s episode began a long time ago (well, a week ago) in a Boardroom far, far away. As some of you may remember, Adam and Clay had quite the bitter interchange in front of the Donald, especially once the virgin called the gay an anti-Semite. Well, Markus was the one who ultimately got the axe (I think he’s still riding a cab around, trying to piece together an address to be dropped off at), which meant that Adam and Clay would have to live with the awkwardness that now separated them like a mighty gulf of lameness. Of course, we’ve seen teammates endure bitter Boardrooms only to have to turn around and be besties the next day on a task. Let’s not forget Sandy and Jennifer M. season two, who endured one of the fiercest catfights in the Boardroom ever, and then a week later pulled it out for a stunning victory with the M-azing candybar (which I’ve tried, and really isn’t that M-Azing. Better than the Tarshi bar though. Sorry Michael. I know he’s reading. Everyone wave hello to the Tarshi!). Anyway, the point of this increasingly tangental paragraph is that no matter how harsh the Boardroom, people have always been able to come together afterwards and move on. But then again, not everyone is a prissy bitch like Clay.
Yes, to say that Clay had a chip on his shoulder would be an understatement. It was more like he had a giant boulder resting on that badboy. And sitting on the boulder was a mini-Clay, with three chips on each shoulder. And on each chip was a little button. And if you pressed the button, more chips would fall on top of the mini-Clays. I could do an artist’s rendering, but even I’m confused as to how it looks. Probably would be some very strange version of a Mandelbrot fractal diagram. Point is, Clay was bitter, and he wasn’t afraid to wallow in it. Not only did he seethe “Don’t talk to me!” in the elevator, but he slammed open the suite door and gave Alla the sort of smirking, self-satisfied look that seems to say, “Deal with it, bitch!”
Clay then headed to his room where he brusquely unpacked his suitcase — and his rage. Well, mostly he unpacked his suitcase. Since he was alone, he didn’t have the chance to go off on anyone, but I tell you, he really showed us who was the boss. Clay unfolded those highly-patterned shirts with the sort of prissy vigor usually reserved for an overtaxed librarian. Or Patricia Heaton. Either/or.
Felisha, meanwhile, slapped on some coat with an oversized fur collar and expressed dismay to us in an interview: “Clay is the type of person that you’d believe would take down the team and actually sabotage the team at the risk of losing, just to get back at the others. That’s Clay.” Incidentally, that was the same tactic Felisha used when she trapped and killed the badger that now adorns her collar.
Nevertheless, with Adam back in the suite, he and his homegirls Alla and Felisha stepped out onto the balcony and like totally gabbed about Clay-Clay. Actually, it was more like Adam and Felisha said a few words here and there, and Alla spent the rest of the time bashing Clay left and right. “It’s going to be hell,” she finally concluded. Yes, hell in a patterned shirt, that is.
The next morning, Rhona called the suite bright and early; although, she couldn’t fool Randal who was ready to pick up that banana phone the second it rang. The Rho-ster (as I am temporarily calling her) told Randy that everyone should be down in the Boardroom — don’t be late! We then watched a mini-montage of the gang getting dressed and ready, the highlight of which was seeing Brian stuff a pastry into his mouth. Zathura! (Sorry, just felt like saying it.)
In the Boardroom, our old chum Bill Rancic was back to fill in for George, and despite my instant blah reaction to this frequent sub, Trump insisted, “Bill’s always very exciting.” And how! That bashful smile, that spikey hair, that quiet verisimilitude — excitement incarnate!
Anyway, once Bill was re-introduced, the assembled group sat back and watched a trailer for Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. You know, that movie really could have benefited from a better marketing campaign. I’m glad it’s getting a second chance on The Apprentice. The extra-exposure is just what it needs.
Once the trailer was done (and we were finished gawking at Carolyn and what looked to be her pajama top), Trump revealed that this week’s task would involve creating an in-store, interactive retail display to feature the DVD of Episode III as well as the videogame, Star Wars Battlefront II. Oh, and did I mention that both products hit the stores this week? Mmmm… the sweet smell of corporate synergy. Anyway, teams would construct their displays in Best Buy and yada yada yada… the best display as judged by execs from Best Buy and Lucasfilm would win. Trump then finished up the assignment by saying, “Good luck, and may the force be with you.” This caused the entire room to laugh politely — and perhaps more enthusiastically than had it been some random guy from Blockbuster crackin’ Star Wars jokes. The Donald then bellowed, “HAVING THE FORCE WITH YOU AND MAKING PUNS ABOUT SAID FORCE IS A THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY!”
Somebody heading to a slumber party?
Well, everyone broke off into their groups, and over at Capital Edge, Clay was ready to exact passive-aggressive revenge. You see, he wanted to be Project Manager because “I think after the way that I was treated yesterday, that I deserve this, and I want this.” We then found him sitting amongst hedges, telling us in an interview that he essentially wanted to get rid of Alla. Bad news Clay: Alla will kick your ass any day. Anyway, there was some minor drama about Clay and his lack of trust for his teammates, but whatever. He was Project Manager and surely disaster would follow.
Over at Excel, Randal seemed to be the only one in the group who cared at all about Star Wars, but since he was Project Manager last week, Brian stepped up for the task instead. Shouldn’t be so bad, right? After all, this was nothing short of a super-team: Randal, Marshawn, Rebecca, Brian — all these peeps have performed extremely well in the past. They were sort of like the original Star Wars trilogy: an unbeatable blockbuster. Surely Excel, like the Star Wars franchise, could never turn to crap. Right?
Beware, Team Excel. Beware…
Well, with the Project Managers chosen, we listened to a lovely bit of Star Wars music, and then one Lucas wipe transition later, we found Capital Edge, starring Clay and his polka-dotted shirt of glory, sitting down with the Best Buy and Lucasfilm execs. The team learned what the corporate mandate for this task was, and Alla could barely contain her excitement over the situation, going so far as to say she actually loved the execs. Alla later went to Borders and bought her 2006 Sexy Executives wall calendar, featuring Warren Buffet in a thong. It’s awesome.
Nice polka dots.
Meanwhile, at Excel, Randal set up a meeting with these superfine executives for 10:15 AM. Sounds all fine and dandy, but unfortunately, project manager Brian insisted that there was no reason to leave until 10:00 AM. Keep in mind this was Manhattan, a place not known for its efficient traffic patterns. Well, sure enough, not only did Excel get a late start out of the suite, but they hit a solid throng of traffic along the way, which of course meant the producers could jizz themselves with their most favorite of montages: the traffic montage. Yup, time for some of classic shots of red lights and gridlocked taxis. As for those bestest execs ever? Well, they just waited. And waited. And waited…
When we came back from the commercial break, Trump yelled this week’s lesson to us: “Loyalty!” We then found him addressing a crowd of high schoolers apparently trapped in the commissary area of Trump Tower. Oh, and guess who else was there? Only the best tag-team since The Heart Foundation: Rhona and Robin. Would they be imparting their shared pool of knowledge with the youngsters? Perhaps they’d impart rare nuggets of wisdom about transferring calls or ordering paperclips! Alas, they were there for show only as Trump then said, “I don’t think Robin or Rhona would be talking badly about me, but who the hell knows?” Rhona then shifted uncomfortably and then mumbled into her broach, “The Big Whale’s onto me. My cover’s blown. Abort! ABORT!”
Anyway, we then returned to Team Excel which was still stuck in traffic. They finally showed up about thirty-five minutes late, but by then, the execs had to head on out to their next important meeting of the day (I’m guessing brunch at Elaine’s and then perhaps a hot tub). “We’re screwed,” said Brian as the executives walked out. Hey, buck up, kid! Yoda never said that, and his whole alliance was murdered! Oh, sorry, was that a spoiler? Chances are that if you really cared that much, you’ve already seen the movie three times… this week.
Another Star Wars wipe later, we then returned to Capital Edge which was heading up a Darth Vader photo shoot. Even though Clay was the Project Manager, this was all Alla’s work as she essentially directed the entire task. At one point, Clay even gave up and walked away to flirt with one of the producers on the set. “So what do you do here?” Clay asked, following up with, “Tell me, do my polka dots turn you on?”
As we headed back to Excel, we briefly caught a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, and oh look! Three suns in the sky. Just like Tattouine or whatever you call that stupid Luke planet. I’m sure all the Star Wars fans simultaneously ejaculated at the reference. Anyway, with nothing to go on except Randal’s knowledge of the franchise, Excel languished as they tried to put together their display. You see, Randal felt the Chancellor and Obi Wan and Yoda should be prominently displayed while Marshawn thought some of the newer, less famous characters should be highlighted (on account of their fab robes). But what no one ever really thought about was whether or not Darth Vader should play a role. I mean, it’s not like he’s the central character of this movie. Or this latest trilogy. Or the franchise in general. Heck, he’s not even an iconic figure in pop culture, right? Psssh. Who needs him?
Back at Capital Edge, it was the same old, same old as Alla spearheaded the actual design of the display while Clay quietly sat back and added insignificant touches. The next morning, as the team set up their installment at Best Buy, Alla continued to run the show, signing off on decisions with the oddly third-person phrase of “Alla happy!”
Meanwhile, over at Excel, the team had somehow put together a marketing display, despite having no direction whatsoever. They may have been proud of their work, but in an interview, Carolyn privately bashed them, calling their display, “Average.” Oooh! The Ice Queen speaketh the truth! Even worse for the team was that with only thirty minutes before the execs arrived, Marshawn decided that she really didn’t want to do the presentation anymore and that Brian might be better served for the position. Not really sure why, but hey, we invite the drama; so by all means, continue. Well, not wanting to waste any time with this, Rebecca stepped up — or really limped up — to the plate and offered to present instead, once again proving that she might have the goods to go all the way.
Finally, it was time to judge the presentations, but not before another cheeky Star Wars reference! Yes, the producers scrolled some text across the screen in that patented, ultra-perspective style. Can you imagine if TVgasm did that with one of our recaps? Probably would be pretty annoying. It’s really not the most accessible text-reading format. Just thought you should know, GEORGE LUCAS.
Anyway, we then found Adam and Felisha dressed up like Obi Wan and Queen Amidala respectively, and I couldn’t help wondering what Toral would have done had she been around for this task. Felisha would have probably insisted that she dress up as Jabba the Hut. Of course, these are all just dreams because as anyone knows, Toral would never dress up like anyone. She’s not ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. Costumes are BENEATH HER and HER FAMILY!
Felisha in her casual attire.
Well, Capital Edge kicked off their presentation, and surprise, surprise! Clay took all the credit for Alla’s work! “I didn’t want this to be ‘Alla saves the day,’” he said, even though it clearly was “Alla saves the day.” When Alla eventually did speak up about the various phrases on the display, Clay smiled passive-aggressively and dismissed her with a smug, “Well, that’s part of it.” Can we officially call him the gay Omarosa now?
Later, at Excel, the execs toured through the display, but it was clear they were rather unimpressed. “Did you think at all about having Darth Vader play a more predominant role graphically?” asked the Lucasfilm executive. Darth Vader? Who’s that? You talkin’ crazy, man. Actually, Rebecca had an enjoyable dumb response: “Darth Vader is an ominous figure, and if we were to put him dead center, we would overpower so much of the elements of this film.” Yes, Darth Vader would overpower too much of this film… that was about Darth Vader!! That’s like saying, “Yeah, we really didn’t want to put Julia Roberts in the poster because we were afraid some of our really strong extras might get overlooked.”
Eventually, it was time to return to the Boardroom and discover the results. I was really hoping Adam and Felisha would enter in full Star Wars regalia, but alas, they had changed into business casual. The good news was that those Toral-baiting costumes were worth the effort; the executives loved Capital Edge’s display, whereas they weren’t so high on Excel. Trump reamed them about the absence of Darth Vader and ultimately handed them the loss. That’s not to say everyone was cheery on Capital Edge. They still had their fair share of drama to deal with. When Trump asked if Clay should be exempt from firing next week, the team resoundingly said no, with Alla noting, “I’m gonna vote against it because I feel that 90% of the task was on my shoulders. I basically led the way. I should have been the Project Manager on this job, period.” Ouch. Of course, Clay countered this with an avalanche of rolled eyes and “Talk to the hand!” facial expressions. Poor Clay. All alone in his world of bitchiness. Later, he opened his closet and sighed, “Well, it’s just me and you, trusty patterned shirts.”
As a reward for kicking some Dark Side ass, Capital Edge was given the mighty privilege of spending the afternoon with — wait for it — Bill Rancic. Oh YES! SWEEEET!! The Ran-Man! Best reward of the season! Yes, the gang headed up to White Plains, NY to check out the awesome new high rise that Bill had been overseeing. Man, nothing says “amazing” like spending the day with a mid-level exec in suburban New York. At the very least, I hope they hit up The Westchester mall for a little afternoon shopping spree. Despite this prize being a little unglamorous, everyone actually had a fun time. Felisha seemed to get a real estate contact high from being near so much scaffolding, and Adam, well, I think he found a new big brother. “I was quite excited to spend the day with Bill,” he told us. We then cut to Bill saying, “If you guys have any questions, this is your time to, you know… you can ask me anything you want.” At which point Adam nervously asked, “B-Bill? What’s sex like?”
Amusingly, when Bill told everyone that it was time for them to step it up a notch, Clay somehow interpreted that as “It doesn’t pay me to give the people on my team respect anymore.” He’s right though. It really doesn’t. Hey, Clay: how’s that exemption from firing going? Oh wait. Never mind…
While Capital Edge cavorted around beautiful White Plains, Excel toiled in the suite, passing the time away looking sullen. Brian tried to keep his spirits up, but even the joyful act of baking cookies (the non-sequitur image of the evening) was ruined by the harsh char of an overactive oven.
What is it about seeing a short man in a business suit and oven mitts?
Okay, enough dillydallying in this Ewok Village of cookie misfortune (I would call that a mixed metaphor, but even I don’t know what it really means). The team headed down to the Boardroom where Trump immediately yelled at Brian for missing a meeting with the execs. He became even more annoyed when he found out Brian had only allotted fifteen minutes for the commute (which ultimately took forty-five minutes). “Where do you go in New York in fifteen minutes?” Trump asked, noting that he could only go one block in such a small window of time. GOING ONE BLOCK IN FIFTEEN MINUTES IS A THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY!
Brian admitted that they had to go from midtown to Chelsea, but even worse, he then revealed that he was originally from the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan. “MURRAY HILL???” Trump exclaimed as if Brian had just confessed to assassinating JFK. Well, this was all bad news for Brian, who then explained the reason why his team left so late: “I made the determination that research was important because as a team, we all weren’t very familiar with the Star Wars brand.” Yeah, you know what’s a really good way to research and learn about the brand? MEET THE EXECUTIVES!
Trump then busted Brian about not including Darth Vader, ultimately concluding, “You know, Brian, you’ve been very disappointing to me. I think you haven’t stepped up. For weeks I think you haven’t stepped up.” Well, he is kind of short, but that’s nothing to hold against him. Oh, Trump was speaking metaphorically? Sorry.
Brian may have had it bad, but the interrogation lamp moved onto Marshawn, who was questioned about her last-minute decision not to present. Even though she has been an adept, well-spoken candidate in the past, Marshy full-on collapsed in this Boardroom, making some lame excuse that she though Brian’s communication style was best for the task. “I think Brian would have been the worst presenter in the room!” Trump bellowed as the music rapidly geared up for a climax. Would this be it? Would Marshawn be getting the axe? It sure looked like it as the Donald and Carolyn pounced on her viciously over and over again. Despite all the questions, she simply could not answer why she declined to present. Even worse, Marshawn boxed herself into a corner when she announced that she had the best presenting style, which cause Bill Rancic to wake up from his coma in the corner and ask, “Wouldn’t it make sense to step up the game and showcase what you have?” Oooh! Good question, Bill! Give that boy a Jolly Rancher!
Well, Marshawn was going down in flames, but before she could totally crash and burn, Trump gave a little shout out to G. Luc as he announced, “This task is one of the best tasks I’ve ever seen. Star Wars! I mean, to me, what’s better?” Trump then held up his advance copy of Star Wars: Episode III and smiled for the camera, a little sparkle flashing on his teeth.
Anyway, as the Boardroom came to a close, Trump seemed to be so mad that the upper-lip area just under his nose started to sweat. Shininess on Mr. Trump? This calls for an extra bloody firing! And so The Donald finger-gunned Brian AND Marshawn for their poor performances. Aww… Look at Brian. It was like he had burned the cookies ALL OVER AGAIN!
As the two former-candidates headed to the taxi, Trump uttered, “Only the best can work here.” That’s right. Now go fetch him a cold compress, BILL!
Later in the cab ride, Marshawn babbled on and on about Brian’s failings, even though he was sitting right next to her. Psssst! Marshawn! He’s RIGHT THERE! As for Brian, well, he just sat there like a shocked lump of… something. Probably how Luke felt when he found out that Father’s Day was gonna be extra-complicated from now on.
Worst Blind Date EVER!
And so ends the saga of The Rubbleman. Too bad. Next week’s task centers around singing. At least we’ve still got Adam to kick around. Time to start FREEEAKIN’!!
What did you think? Did you agree with Trump’s decision?