It’s finally here! More exciting than Christmas and my birthday and maybe even a dick in a box all put together, it’s the season premiere of The Apprentice!! Too long have I suffered without the dulcet tones of The Donald, the harsh gaze of the Ivanka, the soft yet dignity-obliterating lighting of the boardroom, and the knowledge of exact financial figures and profits of various American industries.
We start the night off right with a hilarious limo drive through the rainy streets of New York, clearly a desperate ploy to win the audience over to sunny skies and a break from the ever-haunting steam-rising-from-the-sewer shots. The Donald is on the phone with plastic wife Milania, who coos robotically while little Barron giggles in the background. Trump chuckles heartily, clearly very pleased with himself at having procreated. Next, some lovely aerial views of Los Angeles and its many palm trees and golf courses, all set to the snappiest, jazziest, California-est music you’ve ever heard. And then, in possibly the best TV moment of the year so far, The Donald drives onto the screen in a white convertible and blares “I LOVE L.A. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT GREAT WEATHER AND AN ECONOMY THAT’S WORTH ALMOST SIX HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS!!” Indeed! And what’s also not to love about shouting at a hood-mounted camera crew while driving down a busy highway! Meanwhile, the candidates zoom down an adjacent boulevard in what appears to be a CTU motorcade, once again raising my hopes for a Jack Bauer-Donald Trump fight to the death.
“THE LOUDER I YELL THE FASTER THE CAR GOES. I LOVE L.A.”
Several camera-related car accidents later, Trump arrives at his mansion which, he bellows, is where he’s set up his temporary office and “dreaded Boardroom”. There to greet him is Milania, a vision in pink and baby, who squeals in a voice so high only whales can hear “Hi Daddy. Daddy’s coming home. Hello honey. Welcome home.” This whole scene plus the physical evidence of their lovemaking in the form of a baby that’s already worth more than my entire life just conjures up images that make me vomit in my mouth a little.
“THIS BABY OWNS THREE CASINOS, FIVE GOLF COURSES, AND SEVERAL THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES. AND I OWN THIS WOMAN. I LOVE L.A.”
Credits. I didn’t think there was any way to improve upon the irrepressible O’Jays classic theme song, but then again that’s why my name isn’t Mark Burnett. Because now there are two, count them TWO clips of The Donald saying “you’re fired” at impeccably timed points in the song. I am creaming my PANTS, people.
Trump shouts the setup at us. The candidates will be meeting him at their new ginormous house, which happens to be right next door to his mansion. As they arrive they are greeted by a coot I can only assume is Trump’s manservant, so we’ll call him Jeeves until we get a name confirmation. They line up and Trump requests the traditional ‘tell me who you are and what you do’ role call. As usual, there’s a combination of forgettable girls that immediately blur together, followed by a smattering of odd-looking men. Highlights: one woman named Angela won three Olympic medals for ice hockey, which earned a HUG from The Donald, and the title of Obligatory High-Strung Douchebag is immediately given to Martin, a dweeby little man who asks if he can leave to take a piss. This earns polite laughter from the rest and passive-aggressive jeers from Trump.
The plucky candidates are given a pre-challenge task. Trump roars that they must learn how to work together by erecting a tent, which is waiting for them around the corner in the backyard. They scamper over and get to work. Of course it’s chaos at first, then a girl named Heidi takes charge and begins telling people what to do since she’s been camping before, whereas, I guess, none of the others have ever been outdoors. Suddenly, Frank the Requisite Obnoxious New Yorker starts in with his own set of instructions, which earns a dreaded tuba solo from the soundtrack and a round of complaining from…BRENT FROM LAST SEASON?! Okay no, it’s an Asian dude (an Apprentice first?) named James, but he sounds JUST LIKE HIM. Totally not the voice I had expected to come out of his mouth. Seriously, close your eyes and listen, and see if chills don’t run down your spine like they did in the good old days.
“Is it a tent yet?”
Above, The Donald leers down upon them from his Fortress of Classiness And Luxury, and even he thinks that Frank is being too loud. Which means that Frank must have been shouting at near-sonic boom decibels for the pot to be calling that kettle black. In the interview, Frank (still shouting) complains about Martin standing on a rock and timidly nagging at people. What does Martin have to say about that? “I thought it was important for me to get up on that rock and supervise.” Shut down production! We’ve got a winner right here folks!
“PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE GOLD-PLATED, DIAMOND-ENCRUSTED CURTAIN. I LOVE L.A.”
Anyway, they somehow finish the tent, and after a rousing “1,2,3, TRUMP!” cheer we go to commercial, where Trump and Ivanka deliver a creepy speech detailing the finer plot points of The Tent and the stupid text message contest that I truly despise.
The candidates head over to the mansion, where Jeeves welcomes them and directs them to the Boardroom. I wonder how poor Robin feels about being replaced by a crusty old foreigner. Eh, she probably doesn’t even notice the show is gone. I think she’s just programmed to say “You can go in now” once every 24 hours, and she’s still doing that to this day. Trump enters the Boardroom and introduces Ivanka and…an empty chair that will be filled later on by a special guest. Oooh, who could it be? Bill Rancic? Squidward? TANA?! They discuss the tent mission (Frank: “I’D sleep in it tonight!”), and after it is established that Heidi and Frank were the two main leaders, Trump declares that they will be the project managers and that they are to pick teams. The popularity contest begins, and Martin is picked last! Shock and dismay! He snivels and whines in his interview, but that may just be because he’s upset that he’s wearing a picnic table.
“The pinstripes keep the ants away.”
Trump gives them their first task: to earn as much money as they can by operating a car wash. Because the car wash business is a 250 MILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY. He goes on to drop a rather large bomb: the project manager will remain the project manager as long as that team continues to win. I personally don’t like this new rule, because one of the best parts of this show is watching each and every one of these morons fall apart under the pressure of being the PM, not to mention the inevitable “but I stepped uuup!” arguments that ensue. But I digress. On to the challenge!
“I like things!”
Over at Team Frank, it’s “just like Normandy Beach” according to Martin. Really, Martin? Were there whiny little attorney/professors wearing tablecloths at D-Day as well? Frank, who clearly has no plan in place here and is screaming his disorganized and possibly speed-addled head off, flits away to Kinko’s to make fliers, leaving the team in disarray to figure it all out on their own. Tim, who looks just like Ryan from The Office, voices his doubts as we head to commercial.
Meanwhile, the brain trust that is Team Heidi has put together a three-part plan that consists of large signs, a free lunch promotion, and a horde of shirtless gay men trained to stand on the street and shout at passing cars. Fabulous! Ivanka shows up to pass judgment, sneering that the detail bay is completely empty, which may end up costing them since that’s where the big money is. Then one of the gay guys invites her to take her clothes off. No, really.
“There’s no need for rude gestures, sir!”
The Team Frank girls are yelling incomprehensibly at cars and passing out microscopic fliers. One of the girls complains that no one can hear them. Well, maybe you should have pulled a Squidward and bought EVERY MEGAPHONE in the city. Ah, memories. Carey the non-Martin black guy eventually tells Frank that they need actual signs so that drivers will realize that they’re selling something and not simply terrorizing innocent motorists, so they run off once again to go purchase them. Ivanka chooses that inopportune time to visit and questions both the absence of the Project Manager and the total lack of signage. And then Martin tells her he’s really tired. Probably from all of the heavily-defended French beaches he’s been storming.
Team Heidi is troubled because they have now gotten so many customers they don’t know what to do with them all and the whole place is massively backed up. So they all roll up their sleeves, grab some towels, and get to work. Angela the Hockey Amazon Woman complains that it’s chaotic, but I say whatever. The classic Mark Burnett editing has already told me that these guys are going to win, so let’s just cut over to the failing team, which is always much more fun to watch.
Who let Grandma out of her cage?
Team Trainwreck has sort of gotten its shit together, and Office Tim, Tent Supervisor Martin, and James the Second Coming of Brent have formed an unstoppable sales team that is focused on heavily promoting the wax detail packages. Except that Martin is only sort of suggesting to people that maybe while they’re here at the car wash they should maybe get their car washed. “There’s an old African saying: Drip, drip, drip, water cracks the stone,” he philosophizes. Well water doesn’t sell wax finishes, MARTIN. James kicks off the Traditional Apprentice Witch Hunt by snidely observing that while he and Tim were confident in their sales figures, Martin kept going over and over his because he didn’t sell anything. Apparently James has not been enlightened to the power of water and its stone-cracking abilities.
Back from commercial, we’re treated to a shot of a man hang-gliding off a cliff. Foreshadowing much? The teams are lined up in front of the mansion, and after the usual claims of a win from both teams we get the actual result. The winner: Team Heidi! The big prize is dinner at Spago with The Donald and a special appearance from Wolfgang Puck. Additionally, Heidi gets to join Trump and Ivanka in the Boardroom for the firing! Now this is a plot twist I can get behind. Then Trump drops yet another bomb. Or what would have been a bomb, had we not been informed of it a half hour ago. Now it’s just a little bomblet. He barks that the losers will be sleeping outside in the tents. More specifically, this is a case of the “Haves vs. the Have Nots”. And just to clarify, The Donald goes on to elaborate on what it’s like to live in the backyard, while poor Frank just looks more and more upset or possibly constipated.
The winners enter the house, which is nicely decorated in the Typical Reality Show Opulence tradition. Heidi explains to us poor, TV zombie morons what it means to be a winner: “When you live in the mansion, you are sort of a Have. You get to have things.” Thanks, Heidi! She then added, “And this is a toaster. It toasts things! I’m a winner!”
Meanwhile, in the backyard, the future business leaders of America are coming to grips with the horrible reality of what they’re about to face. Frank clearly outlines the situation: “I don’t like to lose. I’m not a loser. In business, you always have to win. If you don’t, you lose.” I’m sorry Frank, I don’t follow. Could you illustrate that with a flow chart or something? The LOSERS put up the extra tent, explore the “bathroom”, which consists of a tiny shower and a plastic sink, and of course bitch and complain until they’re blue in the face. As night falls, ugly yet terrifying Stefani busts out with this little gem: “We didn’t have electricity, the sinks don’t drain. This DOES feel like Third World!” Because when I think of starving children in Africa, I immediately think of Donald Trump’s mansion in Los Angeles. They’re practically the same thing. I’m surprised Madonna wasn’t spotted sniffing around for orphans.
“I’m a Muppet!”
While the Team Heidi members (shouldn’t they have picked their pretentious team names by now?) congratulate themselves and party in a hot tub like they’re on The Real World: Trump, the losers sulk in misery next door with only a paltry wall of shrubbery dividing the two. Tim tells Frank that he’s probably going to blame him in the boardroom tomorrow, so Frank starts yelling and shouting and New Yorking loud enough for the other team to hear him and giggle viciously. Because when you lose, you are not a winner. And that is what Frank is. He did not win, so therefore he lost. Unlike a winner.
After commercials, more gratuitous footage of the winners sleeping in their snug, warm, oddly configured beds while (in miserable black and white) the losers toss and turn in anguish against a soundtrack of hurricane-force winds, coyotes, and DEADLY SPRINKLERS!! The next morning, they wake up bright and early to get in as many hours of complaining as humanly possible, and also to spy on the winning girls lounging around in a pool for what seems like a ridiculously long scene. HAVES AND HAVE NOTS. WE GET IT.
Later on at the reward dinner, Trump introduces Wolfgang Puck to the winners, and Wolfy is kind enough to sit for approximately five seconds before running off to serve them some mystery food. They joke around for a while until suddenly Trump asks who did the worst, and then the boardroom music starts playing, and is someone getting fired?! Nah, he’s just kidding! Oh Donald, you incorrigible bastard!
Welcome to the Saved By The Bell reunion!
Over in the slums (again in black and white, or Miseryvision as I like to think of it), Martin is formulating a strategy. Because “there’s a Nigerian saying that says ‘seize every opportunity as it if were your last.’” I’m pretty sure Martin is just making shit up now. Nigerian? Heck, I read that little nugget of wisdom in a fortune cookie a few days ago. Of course, I added “IN BED!” but my point is, Martin is stupid. He and Frank fight for a while over price points, marketing tactics, and leadership failures, but luckily Martin can “handle the psychology of the group,” and if he can pull this off, he will be “the greatest apprentice ever”. Strong words for a man whose definition of ‘greatest’ consists of ‘owner of the pinkest shirt known to man’.
The winning team holds a tactical discussion regarding Heidi’s inclusion in the boardroom and how she can use it to their advantage by recommending that he fire the stronger candidate. What genius. That kind of thinking leads to having more things! Gooo Haves!
The losers (the ones who didn’t win) approach the mansion with suitcases in tow. Jeeves answers the door and Michelle, the Jaime Presley lookalike, greets him by name but I can’t quite make it out. Otto? Anna? I’m sticking with Jeeves. They make their way up to the boardroom while Ivanka glowers at them fiercely. (At this point I hope to impress my companions with my knowledge of rich people’s daughers’ ages so I say “Guess how old she is.” And the answer I get is “Hot.”) Trump makes a flourishing entrance and we begin.
The Donald surveys the teammates on how the task went. Martin, again cleverly disguised as a picnic table, starts throwing around the term “mission critical” a lot, which only makes him sound more ridiculous, if that’s at all possible. Tim chimes in with the price point issue, and Frank, amidst a flurry of stuttering and sweat, blames Tim because he was in charge of sales. But since Frank knows Martin is an easier target he rears around and sets his eyes firmly on the poor pinstriped bastard. Even Ivanka comes down on Martin for not working hard enough, because he had admitted to being tired before they had even started. Touché, ice queen.
Marty and Frank in Condescension: The Musical!
Frank and Martin continue to argue for what seems like eons. Martin tries to be heard above Frank’s shouting by whimpering “Eye-vanka saw me rocking and rolling!” (Ivanka: “I didn’t.”) Nicole tries to say something but is barely comprehensible because she lost her voice, which again I blame on the lack of megaphones. Heidi occasionally throws in her two cents with a smarmy smile, drawing looks that could kill from the losing team (the non-winners). Eventually Trump takes a poll as to who should be fired and it’s kind of split. Some say Frank, some say Martin, a couple say both. And somewhere in the mix Trump calls Frank fanastic and Martin a pompous ass. Wonderful. Frank selects Martin and Tim to come back in with him, and Trump reminds the rest of them that they “pitched a tent” and that they may return to it now. As everyone leaves, Frank makes a pathetic final pitch and Trump blares “SAVE IT FRANK!”
“I’M PITCHING A TENT RIGHT NOW. I LOVE L.A.”
The Donald consults Queen Heidi, who says that if she were him, she would fire Martin, which completely goes against the strategy of the winning team (who did not lose). Ivanka agrees. Trump calls them in on an intercom, which I guess beat out Robin for the job in what must have been a fierce Battle of Wits. Frank starts yelling again and at some point Trump dismisses Tim, who clearly didn’t need to be there. Without skipping a beat, Frank starts in again on how it all came down to sales and cripes, the guy just does not stop talking. When Trump asks about Martin’s education and Frank calls him brilliant, Donny comes down hard on why he would say that when he’s trying to defend himself. Ooh, that’s dangerous. This could be one of those last minute firings when the front runner ends up saying something stupid and gets kicked off out of spite. I LOVE those.
But at the end of the day, Ivanka says she can’t see Martin fitting in at the company, and you can always bet on Trump liking the guy with the fire under his ass, so Frank gets to stay even though he was clearly the one who lost the task for the team. But it’s all worth it because when The Donald says “Martin, you’re fired,” Martin confusedly says, “Fir-? No no no-” and Frank puts on the most ridiculous smile I’ve ever seen, chuckles “He said ‘Martin you’re fired!” and dances away. Poor Martin, the glee of his rock supervision days now long faded away, moans that this is unheard of and that Trump has made a horrible mistake. Kindly old Donald gives the you’re-great-but-not-for-us speech and sends him off in disgrace.
It’s just like the old Botswanan saying goes, “The walking picnic loses the sandwich.”
Well kids, I thought this was a fantastic premiere and I do believe it’s going to be a ridiculously entertaining season. Usually I like when the weirdos stay around for a little bit longer, but I’m fine with Martin getting the boot. He was a fun character but lacked the likeability factor possessed by previous oddball favorites like Lenny or Marcus. Plus in the long run I think we’ll see a lot more silliness from Frank the sweat factory. Comments? Thoughts? Delicious recipes?