The buzz may be long gone from The Apprentice, but man, this show still works. Yeah, there are a lot of haters out there, but honestly, it’s hard to top the delicate mixture of bombastic Trumpisms, blatant product placement, bickering overachievers, and possibly the best elimination forum on television: the boardroom. It looks like we’ll be in for another exciting journey this season, and if this first episode is any indication, there’ll be fun times aplenty here on TVgasm. It’s late at night, and I have a lot of writing ahead, so let’s get this party started.
And pardon the unintentional Pink reference.This most audacious of reality shows kicked off its fourth season with images of hope and America: the morning sun! Humble farms! Ugly power lines! Cut to me standing in my living room, saluting the TV and singing, “My Donald ’tis of thee!”
Okay, I didn’t do that, but that’s because I was listening to Mr. Trump boast about his candidates: “They’re hungry go-getters, each with a different story to tell.” Yeah, like that one crazy party at B-school. Or that awful first day of work. Or, oh this is hilarious, back at the strip club when that guy killed three people just to pay for a lap dance. (For those of you not in the know, candidate Alla used to be a stripper, and one of her clients murdered three people in a ill-conceived plan to pay for her services. Yeah, it’ll be a running TVgasm joke.)
Anyway, just in case we didn’t believe that these people were “go-getters,” we then saw footage of one plucky girl running with a beauty queen sash. Funny, I always work out with my tiara on. (Most beautiful blogger pageant, of course.)
Soon enough, Trump began bellowing at full force, and I eagerly anticipated what would surely be a prototypically lavish Mark Burnett intro. What would The Donald be doing this year? Hang gliding over Manhattan? Riding an ostrich over the Brooklyn Bridge? Water skiing with the help of some speedy dolphins? Nope. Donald merely sat at his desk and yapped away. Man, that was anticlimactic. And we didn’t even get to see Rhona either. You call this an intro, Burnett?
Well, the good news was that we did get to see former winners Bill Rancic, Kelly Perdew, and Kendra Todd in a brief montage. And just to prove that they were now Very Important Executives, we saw them walking briskly down halls and over sidewalks. Because, you know, unimportant people don’t walk briskly.
Finally, The Donald stepped away from his desk and walked out the front doors of Trump Towers, all the while declaring, “I’m looking for someone who’s a tough negotiator. I’m looking for someone who’s a dynamic leader. I’m looking for… THE APPRENTICE!” And, well, some product placement too. Cut to footage of Song Airlines delivering the latest contestants to New York. Seriously.
Ah, but Trump wasn’t done babbling. “They’ll work harder than they’ve ever imagined!” he promised. We then watched as one guy stuck out his hand and hailed a cab, yelling, “Taxi!” Man, that’s some hard work! This is the most hardcore Apprentice EVER!
Eventually, we met some of the candidates, like our mysterious Alla who explained, “I was born in Russia, moved to the States with absolutely nothing, and made myself into a multi-millionaire all on my own.” And, you know, a stripper. Sorry, I’m gonna have to bring that up whenever I can. Alla can be like, “So I ate a tuna salad,” and I’ll still write, “Strippers LOVE tuna salad!” I know at least I’ll laugh. And so will you, right?
Anyway, after the opening credits (which, by the way, is one of the best openers on TV. Can’t decide between it and Laguna Beach), we saw all the various candidates arriving by cab at the Trump National golf course. There, a humble servant welcomed everyone by opening their doors and saying, “Welcome to Trump National Bedminster.” So is this what Bill Rancic’s been doing for the past eighteen months? Really not very impressive.
Marshawn, a criminal defense attorney, then piped up with why she was qualified to be the next Apprentice: “I’ve been able to represent gang members, drug dealers, prostitutes.” Oh, well, that’s perfect for corporate America. We all know that Trump loves to hire the Crips to take care of his country clubs. Meanwhile, Clay NotAiken announced that he was proud to be openly gay. After all, the men would be cool with it, and the women would be his best friends. Clay then added, “I can’t wait to tell Martha what I’m all about. Wait what? This is the Donald one? F*@K!”
Probably the biggest story behind this cast, however, was the unlikely appearance of Cameron Crowe amongst the candidates. Who would have thought this beloved screenwriter/director would need to slum it in reality TV? I mean, the guy’s worked with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz and Renée Zell — oh wait. It wasn’t Cameron Crowe. Just some doofus named Markus. My bad.
Well, the corporate all-stars all lined up on the golf course where a tantastic Trump met them. Today’s big discussion was about fitness. “The fitness business is a monster business. In the United States, it does 13 BILLION DOLLARS a year in revenue,” Donald said. It’s funny, I was going to joke that he was going to say “A TEN BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY,” but, well, he beat me to the punch. Anyway, he continued: “There’s no better company, there’s no finer company, and it’s also one of the largest, Bally’s Total Fitness.” Okay, I beg to differ. Anyone who’s ever been stuck in the hell-hole institution known as Bally’s Total Fitness will surely know what I’m talking about. Not only did I get conned into a three year contract (I was told I could cancel after one year. WRONG), but the facilities (especially in Hollywood, CA) were so grimy, smelly, unkempt, and nasty that a friend of mine actually got a WORM from the exercise equipment. Funny story: that friend also stopped talking to me on account of his burgeoning fame (which turned out to be not much of a fame at all. Needless to say, only a few stars emerged from Bring It On, and he was not one of them). So basically, enjoy the worm, SUCKER!
Anyway, after Trump detailed this week’s assignment (design an exercise class at Bally’s; whoever earns the most money is the winner), he split the contestants into two teams — boy vs. girl — and said that there was a helicopter somewhere on the golf course. The first team to reach it would be able to pick a gym location first. And with that, the corporate superstars were off! Yes, racing to find a helicopter on a golf course. Just like corporate America!
As everyone ran to the chopper, one bullish guy brushed right past Donald, causing him to laugh and say, “He almost ran into me. The lineman. That guy almost ran me over!” It should be noted that running Trump over is a THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY.
Well, this not-so-Amazing Race ended fairly quickly, and the women, despite hopping in golf carts still managed to lose. How in the hell? Did they stop off for lattés on the way or something?
Anyway, after the commercial break, we returned to find The Donald teaching us a very Rodney King-ish lesson: “Can’t we all just get along?” Yeah, we should really love each other more. At least until we’re forced into a purposefully divisive conceit like The Boardroom to fight for our lives. But yeah, we should all get along.
Up in the sky, the two guys in the helicopter deliberated on the Bally’s locations. One of the passengers, Josh, explained his thought process: “Oh, 106th street. Spanish Harlem. Probably not the best place. 20th Street, Sixth Avenue, in Chelsea, more affluent. Better location.” It’s okay, Josh. You can say it: predominantly gay neighborhood, one that stereotypically features a large gym-going population. I’m sure Clay wouldn’t mind the shout-out. Nevertheless, the guys showed up at Bally’s and surprise, surprise, the manager was some fattish looking dude with nasty facial hair. Just par for the course at Bally’s. Did I mention that I hate Bally’s?
As for the girls, they were stuck with the Spanish Harlem Bally’s, and almost immediately, a chipper girl named Kristi stepped up to be Project Manager. We knew she was doomed immediately when the big-haired Felisha said, “All right, you want to be project manager. This is your niche. We’re gonna let you do it.” That sort of patronizing faith always leads to immediate failure. Anyway, the girls all headed into their gym and polled the locals about how much they spend for classes, etc. Needless to say, it wasn’t much. Later, when the team reconvened in an office, a loud and brash woman named Melissa spoke up, saying that Hispanic people don’t want to pay more than $15 or $20, and she could say that because she was Hispanic. Personally, I didn’t think the race mattered. No one wants to spend more than $15 for anything at Bally’s, especially when you’ve already been locked down into a three-year plan. Still, the girls wanted to charge more, with one saying she could sell a class for $50 a pop. Ahem, ladies, let’s not forget that you’re in Spanish Harlem, not Spanish Malibu. Might be a bit pricey for this ‘hood.
Well, a dullard named Toral didn’t necessarily disagree with Melissa’s stance, but, “the problem was the manner in which Melissa said it.” Oh I see. Turn down a good idea because it wasn’t communicated in the proper tone of voice. Toral: future poster child for middle management.
To be fair though, Melissa was acting crazy dumb, and we all know what that means on The Apprentice. Acting strange + being a minority = fired. Let’s not forget Stacy J. and her ca-RAZY antics with the magic eight ball, also known as the scariest moment of many women’s lives. Meanwhile, over at the men’s gym, Cameron Crowe, I mean, Markus, was getting confused by just about everything around him. I don’t know why. I’ll chalk it up to the inordinately large amount of exercise balls lining the gym’s walls. Honestly, who wouldn’t be intimidated?
Awwww. Bring your son to work day!
At the end of the day, the teams retired to the suite which had once again received an Extreme Makeover: Trump Edition. Gone were those dreary greens and grays and whites. In their place were deep reds and blacks and anything else that connoted vaguely Oriental themes. Yes, for some reason, this year’s living quarters were all about Asia, which would have been particularly fitting had there actually been at least one Asian person in the cast. Along with a new decor, of course, came new gadgets, and soon enough, we found Randal talking into what looked like a brass banana. Turns out it was an ultra-modern phone (how Asian!), and oh no, his grandmother had died. Her breathing tube had fallen out, and in the time it took for her husband to get a nurse, she had suffocated. Wow. Talk about an Apprentice downer. Somehow Randal managed to push on and participate in this dumb Bally’s task, which is pretty impressive given the situation. I have a hard enough time focusing if there’s a restaurant menu floating around, let alone a familial death.
In other news, the suite has been renamed “Royal Panda Wok.”
Anyway, the next morning, it was time for the teams to shape up or ship out. The gals hit the pavement kinda, not really running, and passed out flyers to passers-by about their pseudo-yoga-lates class (it probably had nothing to do with yoga-lates, but I enjoy saying it regardless). Now let’s just get something clear right now. Future Apprentice candidates, listen up reeeeaaal good, now. Whichever team solely relies on handing out flyers to people on the street ALWAYS LOSES. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that strategy ever pay off, unless the other team was similarly disposed to such a dumb plan. Nevertheless, the ladies not only handed out flyers on the street, but they were ever so bright to make “XXX” the centerpiece of their ad campaign. And oh yeah, they used pink paper. I suppose this was Kristi’s brilliant plan to appeal to seedy middle-aged men who live in their mothers’s basements, and you know, just happen to want to get in shape.
By the way, the name of the women’s exercise class was “Triple Threat,” a title which incidentally does not feature the letter “x” in either of its words.
Well, this is CLEARLY for an exercise class!
Just when we thought this brilliant marketing plan couldn’t get any more illogical, Kristi (a.k.a. pseudo Reese Witherspoon) then informed us that she wasn’t marketing to people IN the club. That’s right. I mean, why try to convince people who are already working out and might be, you know, interested in an exercise class? Instead, Kristi felt she could tap into a whole new demographic by hauling in the man on the street. Yes, I’m sure that lawyer headed to court will decide to take an impromptu exercise class, despite having NO WORKOUT CLOTHES.
The guys seemed a bit more savvy when it came to marketing as they actually reined in people already working out in their gym (revolutionary!), but their biggest problem was dealing with Markus, who might have looked like Cameron Crowe but certainly did not have the same way with words. Basically, Markus talked. A lot. When The Donald called him up to get the team name (Excel, like the spreadsheet), Markus then babbled on and on about who knows what. Man, I love when the idiots rise to the surface immediately. Anyway, he spent so much time yapping away that even Trump had to turn to whoever was with him (Rhona possibly?) and say, “This guy talks a lot!” Incidentally, talking a lot is a FIFTY BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY.
Well, over on the women’s side (Team Capital Edge, we learned — hey, why no team-naming debates this season?), the exercise classes were a BIG hit. I mean, one class had three whole people! Talk about blockbuster business. Okay, okay, it wasn’t very stellar, and to show how disappointed she was, Melissa huffed and puffed and talked shit to Carolyn. “Women always hate me, fine,” she said. Um, you know, I think men probably hate you too. Something about that whole “annoying personality” really turns people off.
We then paused to see a closeup of a woman’s ass on the treadmill (that was NBC’s way of saying, “Greetings, male viewers!”) and then we eventually returned to the women’s side where a proud Marshawn announced, “I do think we’re gonna win this one.” So clearly, the men would be winning.
Ultimately, the final score was actually much closer than I thought it would be. Capital Edge (not to be confused with Capital One) pulled in $516 worth of business, but Excel, er, excelled with $527. Advantage: MEN. And their big reward? Lunch with The Donald at the Friar’s club. Poor Randal wasn’t able to go on account of his grandmother’s passing, but Trump was kind enough to hook him up with a helicopter to attend the funeral. Awww. I love feel-good reality now!
We then cut to commercial and look who was waiting for us! Why, failed Apprentice 2 candidate Elizabeth Jarosz. A year ago, this woman was boasting about her highly successful career as the owner of a consultant firm and former employee of Proctor & Gamble. So what is she up to now? If you answered “shilling for Bally’s in a stupid commercial,” then you’d be correct. Then again, she probably earned more money from that dumb spot than I have over the past three years. Man, I hate her now.
Wow, Bally’s can’t even get a real celeb to hawk its brand anymore.
When we returned from this auspicious commercial break, we saw the guys chowing down with The Donald in a relatively uninteresting scene. It was pretty much more of the same. Markus continued babbling, Trump laughed at him, and everyone enjoyed a lunch well-deserved. Back at the suite, however, the claws were coming out. Melissa cornered some teammate and said, “Unfortunately, the first task was led by Kristi. And unfortunately, I don’t respect her.” Wow, that IS unfortunate! I just can’t believe how unfortunate that is. Excuse me while I soak in all the unfortunateness of it.
As for Kristi, we found her sitting in an empty Chinese restaurant, and — oh wait, it was just the living room. Nevertheless, it was shaping up to be a battle royale, and sure enough, things got bloody real quick. Kristi and Melissa went at it, pausing only when Trump or Carolyn had some pointed question to ask. To be honest, it seemed as though Kristi was going down fairly quickly, considering the awful marketing campaign she had launched. “Who came up with this idea?” asked Carolyn, holding up one of the XXX handouts. Oh, you know she HATES that! Melissa was quick to pour on the criticism as well: “You’re loud, you’re obnoxious, you’re poor, and you’re weak.” Now tell us how you really feel, Melissa.
Luckily, Melissa had an ally in Alla, the ex-stripper, who was surprisingly very astute and articulate in her arguments. She explained that since Melissa wasn’t at 100% on the task, she could have cost the team that one sale it needed to beat the guys. Props to Alla. It was such a good point that even The Donald gave his signature “good point” head nod. Nevertheless, in a repeat of last year’s Stacy incident, all the women ganged up on Melissa, but in this case, it actually seemed deserved. I mean, this lady was an idiot. “The only reason I had negativity… is because she gets under my skin,” Melissa explained. So it was her fault that you couldn’t deal with her?
Ultimately, Kristi requested to only bring one person back with her to the Boardroom, and unsurprisingly, she chose Melissa. It was a bold move; after all, she now had increased her chances of being fired from one in three to one in two. But then again, all she really needed to do was shut her mouth and let Melissa dig a hole for herself. And that’s exactly what she did.
“The reality is that I don’t work well with women because they’re always intimidated by me,” asserted Melissa. Yes, being a moron can be very intimidating.
Well, this statement obviously prickled Carolyn, who asked how Melissa intimidated the other girls. “Because I’m beautiful, I’m smart, I’m competitive,” Melissa bragged with a glorious air of self-delusion. Of course, Carolyn then asked the question which was on everyone’s minds: “Do you have a shot at this if you can’t work for women?” Ummmmm…. [crickets]
Technically, Kristi did have a the bigger screw-up of the episode, but this Melissa bitch was too ridiculous. As much as I would have liked to have seen her spread her words of idiocy around the Boardroom for a few more weeks, she had to go. And sure enough, she did. Trump fired her with his finger-gun (R.I.P. cobra hand), causing Kristi to smile like the cat that ate the canary. Well, she had better wipe that grin off her face. “You should not be proud of yourself because you did not do well,” reprimanded Trump. Yeowch! The Donald with the surprise post-firing attack! This is why he’s the one and only, people.
Now, all this was fun and everything, but let’s keep it real. The best part of the entire show happened in the closing minutes as we got to see what the season had in store for us. It was all the usual: yelling, fighting, scampering, Trump saying “Lam-boor-gee-nee,” and… CAROLYN IN CHARGE OF THE BOARDROOM??? WHAAA??
YES! Pre-emptive BEST APPRENTICE EPISODE EVER!
What did you think about the premiere?