I decided not to write this week’s Apprentice recap until six days later because, well, I wanted everyone to have a good perspective on it and… okay, I was just lazy. I was gonna type it up on Sunday evening, but a certain TV movie derailed those plans. But why waste time with a dumb intro? Let’s just get right to it.This week’s episode began with a stroll down memory lane. The camera gazed lovingly on those black and white photos of Magna, taken so many weeks ago as part of a reward. Ah, the fallen teammates: Erin, Stephanie, Bren. Luckily, they will remain in our hearts, if only because the photo arrangement kind of looked like a Broadway marquis. I can already hear the commercials: “Erin Elmore in HAIR!” (Easy joke, I know).
While Alex and Bren duked it out in the Board Room, Kendra nervously paced to and fro, fretting that her boy Bren might not make it back. Alas, it was Alex who returned, and after his second escape from Trump in a row, he was ready to fight. “The worst person to get into a fight with is somebody that has nothing to lose. That’s me!” he said with all the fierce determination of a metrosexual racing to Banana Republic. Actually though, he had plenty to lose. You know, like THE JOB. But listen, I really don’t want to question Alex’s logic. Instead, I’d like to know what sort of kinky hobbies he’s been up to in the loft. As he unpacked his bags, he removed what appeared to be some large, metalic, clanking apparatus. I suppose it was his belt and tie rack, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it were some leather fetish contraption he’d purchased from the West Village.
The next morning, Rhona rang up the contestants, and in a surprise turn of events, Craig picked up the phone, allowing us to see his awkward morning shuffle. Just imagine a senior citizen walking over hot coals. Anyway, Rho-Dogg (that’s her new nickname, starting now) told the posse where to meet Trump, and after some quick “I’m gettin’ dressed, gonna seize the day!” footage, we met up with the big man once again. First order of business: Alex had to choose a new teammate. Now, if he had any sentimental attachments to the central premise of this season, he would have chosen Kendra, if only to resurrect the book smarts vs. street smarts rivalry. Thankfully, he knew the one way to make Magna implode would be to leave Kendra and Craig alone together; so he yanked over Tana, therefore ensuring that she’d most likely have a terrible performance (the Alex/Net Worth effect).
With the swap in place, it was now time for Trump to bellow loudly about things. Today’s order of business? T-Shirts! And when we think of T-Shirts, what company do we think of? Hanes. (And yes, Donald was sure to mention that Hanes T-Shirts brought in two billion dollars worth of revenue last year). This week, teams had to design a commemorative t-shirt celebrating, I don’t know, fifty years of Hanes? I really wasn’t paying attention. Anyway, each group would be assigned a leading pop cultural artist who would help design the shirt, and then the team would have to sell the product the next day at a store called “Scoop”, an apparent favorite of Ivanka Trump’s. I’m surprised she didn’t suddenly show up and say “Scoop is a really great store, folks. I think you’ll really love it.” Anyway, regarding the artists, Magna would work with Romero Britto and Net Worth with Burton Morris. That’s pretty awesome. Those guys are geniuses (cut to me scurrying to the Internet, finding out who they are, hoping no one sees that I’m an art poseur).
Tana immediately stepped up to be Project Manager for Magna due to her experience launching a clothing line (and due to Alex’s sucking as a Project Manager). I am a big Tana fan, but even I feared she was making a huge mistake as we saw Alex penning out some primitive designs for their shirt. Let’s try to remember something: Alex + Designing = DISASTER. Luckily, Burton Morris soon showed up and began sketching some ideas. “How quickly can you make a star?” asked Tana. Uh, two seconds? It’s only one of the more basic shapes out there. That’s like asking Peyton Manning if he knows how to throw a football.
Over at Magna, we knew we were in for some friction when we encountered Craig, Kendra, and Romero Britto all squished into the back seat of a cab. Poor Romero. He seemed so uncomfortable and out of place, I momentarily thought he was reenacting a Steve Martin movie poster.
“Our t-shirt isn’t going to be tacky like your outfit, right?”
When the trio finally arrived at the studio, Kendra (this week’s Project Manager) told Romero’s assistant to contact his mailing list and tell them that a limited edition product of his would be available for sale the next day. Very smart that Kendra is. Very smart indeed. Meanwhile, Craig sat in a corner and played with a stapler.
Okay, maybe he didn’t play with a stapler, but Craig reliably acted like a stick in the mud as he and Kendra butted heads — again — over the T-Shirt design. Kendra wanted a heart, Craig wanted a star, and I wanted a whole lot of SHUT UP. As the Great Heart / Star Impasse of 2005 raged on, we went to commercial, returning minutes later to the Donald yelling, “Keep your eyes on the prize!” Don’t get caught up in side tasks, he advised. This was illustrated by showing footage of a bulldozer tearing at an awning. Seriously, this is like the tenth time we’ve seen this footage. I don’t even see how it applies to anything anymore. Next week the lesson could be “Go play tennis” and we’d still see that bulldozer going at it. At least this time, we had the added touch of Donald yelling out to the operators, “Say hello to your boss!” I kind of would have liked one of the guys to have done an air snap like Agador Spartacus and yelled “You no the boss of me, Mr. big hair Trump man!”
Anyway, after Trump’s weekly business lesson, our eyes were peeled for the first sign of teams getting sidetracked, and luckily, we only had to wait about ten seconds before Tana regrettably became fixated on finding a Bedazzler for her t-shirts. Oh Tana. Don’t do this. Please, don’t do this. Yes, somewhere along the line, our favorite Iowa MILF decided to add rhinestones to the t-shirt, a gimmick that could boost prices, she rationed. It wasn’t a bad idea, per se, but when foggy notion yielded to ridiculous obsession, I knew she’d be losing the task. Before we even knew what was going on, she and Alex were hopping a cab to Staten Island — STATEN ISLAND — to find rhinestones used for the Bedazzler. Listen, anytime you go to another borough, it’s always instant failure (the one exception being the time Tana sent Bren to Brooklyn to do some silkscreening). With visions of glistening rhinestones in her eyes, Tana had barely the time or patience to think about marketing for the t-shirt. Alex quietly mentioned it, but when a phone call interrupted, he seemed to drop the topic altogether. Meanwhile, Tana was off in rhinestone fantasy land, a place that I imagine looks a lot like “Candy Land”, except with tacky stones instead. You know, like Vegas.
Over at Magna, Craig and Kendra were once again scratching and clawing at each other. I personally don’t even remember what the latest point of contention was, but I’ll assume it had to do with saying “tomato” versus “tomahto.” Eventually Craig laid it all out on the table. “You can’t hear from me,” he said. Huh? What does that mean? Similarly confused was Kendra, who gave her patented droopy head, raised eyebrow stare. Craig then instantly mocked her look and elaborated that no matter what he says, she simply filters it out (actually, he explained it in a much more convoluted, Bill Cosby-sounding way). Eventually, Kendra was left asking one quintessential question of the viewing audience: “Is it just me, or is Craig just a butthole?” All those who think butthole say Aye. “Aye!”
This staring contest lasted three hours until Craig spotted a Jell-o Pudding Pop
The next morning, it was time to open up shop and sell some overpriced t-shirts. With Kendra’s shrewd marketing scheme, Magna was off to a quick start, and wow, I know one of those buyers! The guy who ordered like four shirts — he’s a friend of the family! He goes to my synagogue! I’m famous!
–Pausing to call Mom and Dad. Now listening to Mom and Dad talk about 24. Now emailing a friend who doesn’t care about this. Now laughing at Rosie O’Donnell again–
Okay, I’m back. Anyway, Magna seemed to be doing a solid job, and with a steady flow of people coming in, it appeared that they might waltz to victory. That is, unless they sold the shirts at too low of a price. It didn’t help that Craig was giving discounts to people who were already willing to pay full price for the merchandise. SMART. Dude, you’re selling art, not stereo equipment.
Net Worth meanwhile seemed to struggle, at least at first. Their only marketing seemed to have been a meager sign on the street and Alex approaching strangers with brochures, but that ploy only seemed to have marginal results. I’m sure he would have been much more successful had the store been in Chelsea (Wink wink… Wink. Seriously, I have something in my eye. Wink wink wink). Still, Net Worth was able to pull in some foot traffic, and Tana was able to even put her rhinestones to good use. And no wonder — “When the light hits it, it looks like diamonds,” she explained. Yes, very very cheap, diamonds made of paste and glass.
Anyway, after a long afternoon of selling, the teams returned to the Boardroom where they faced the panel of Donald, George, and Carolyn. Trump asked how both teams sold their products. Alex said that he got people into the store, and Tana was the closer. Ooh, how very Glengarry Glenross. When The Donald asked Net Worth who sold the t-shirts, Craig happily answered, “Me.” Good to see he’s still not afraid to take all the credit! (Don’t worry, Kendra stood up for herself and said “We both did.”)
Ultimately, Magna demolished Net Worth by selling 100 shirts versus 33 shirts, for a total profit of $2,705 (Net Worth only brought in $1147.95). As their reward, Kendra and Craig were told they’d be taken up into the sky and flown in jet fighters. When asked if they had any problems with flying, Kendra responded that her dad was a Top Gun instructor, causing Craig to quickly add that his father was in the Air Force. God, I wish these two would just shut up.
We then were treated to the obligatory reward scene as the two teammates went head to head in a really elaborate game of laser tag (seriously, what is up with The Apprentice sending winners into the sky this season?). In an interview, Craig proudly dissed Kendra with one of those put downs that sounds cool but actually makes no sense whatsoever. Basically, he boasted that he could take down Kendra in aerial combat, adding “I can do that without a plane.” Uh, how? With thirty seagulls and a BB Gun? Actually, I would definitely want to see that. But unfortunately for Craig, after all his nonsensical trash talking, it was Kendra who shot him down. I didn’t hear what his response was, but I’m sure it was something like “She can shoot me down, but can she do it with a shoe? I don’t think so.”
Meanwhile, Tana and Alex retreated to their separate corners of the apartment to prep for the Boardroom. Alex informed us why he’d emerge victoriously: “I’m smarter than Tana, and I’m harder than Tana.” Oh really? Was Brad Pitt in the room? Rimshot! Too easy, Alex. Too easy. (You see, I was making an erection joke and– oh I shouldn’t explain? Never mind).
Anyway, the dynamic duo finally made their way to the Boardroom, and I instantly feared for Tana’s future on the show as she bravely sported a leather miniskirt into Donald’s lair. Things seemed to get worse for our plucky Mary Kay saleswoman as she talked entirely too much about the Bedazzler and rhinestones and beads. Alex appropriately bashed her for going to Staten Island and neglecting marketing. However, he lost some footing with a few of his arguments. First he claimed that Tana did a bad job of delegating. Delegating? On a two person team? Luckily, George had the same reaction. When Tana blamed Alex for failing with the marketing, he claimed that there was never a clear decision that he was responsible for that area. He then said his only duties were signs and flyers. You know, what we normally call MARKETING!
Eventually, it dwindled down to a he said/she said scenario about the marketing, and while there were holes in Alex’s logic, I have to say, my woman Tana was simply falling apart in the Boardroom. She seemed to have all the wrong answers. As she and her teammate headed out to the lobby during the deliberations, Tana woefully stated, “They didn’t like my beads.” Good god, Tana! GET OVER THE BEADS. If she gets fired over a Bedazzler, that would be entirely too embarrassing for words.
Well, truth was she was right about the beads. Trump couldn’t stand them, and in fact, he was furious that Tana went to Staten Island to get them. Furthermore, he feared that she simply was too nice for his organization. When the two candidates returned, Trump grilled Tana some more about the beads, and she tried to explain how valuable they were, but it only served to annoy the boss man even more. He eventually leveled with her that he wasn’t sure how she could deal with the heavy hitters in the Trump organization when all she wanted to do was add rhinestones to t-shirts. Then suddenly, it was as if Tana realized it was time to get serious because out of nowhere, she transformed from sweet Mary Kay saleswoman to ruthless competitor, and I have to say, it was fairly exhilarating. I mean, anytime someone becomes a ruthless fighter (flashbacks to Sandy vs. Jen and Andy last season), it’s oddly thrilling; so imagine my delight when one of my favorite contestants suddenly kicked into high gear.
Tana immediately enumerated several reasons why she wouldn’t be intimidated by affluent, important business people. Then she clearly, calmly, and succinctly reiterated her track record in life, ultimately saying that she wanted to work for Trump. Oh, one more thing: “And my record is better than Alex’s,” she said, suddenly bringing the A-game SLAM out of nowhere. “I was a Project Manager three times, and I won two times, one of them was a defeat over Alex.” OUCH! Tana with the finishing move!
Suddenly, it was as if Alex was completely thrown off his game. He became a stuttering mess, and when Trump asked him about his record, he fibbed and said he had only lost once as a Project Manager. When called out on his lie (he’d lost twice), Alex claimed that he had simply forgotten and then tried to act like he now remembered. Even worse, he tried to pull some lame comparison to the New Jersey Generals that really made no sense whatsoever. Trump finally woke up to what we’d been seeing all along and fired Alex’s ass, saying that he seemed to be coasting along, letting other people screw up to make him look better. Wow, what a turn of events. I love the Boardroom.
Anyway, Alex made his walk of shame to the cab, and shockingly, Trump didn’t even bother to make his usual remarks like “He’s a good kid.” Wow. He must HATE Alex! As for our latest fallen contestant, he seemed very happy as he climbed into his taxi (which nearly collided with a passing car). Alex claimed he had all sorts of entrepreneurial ideas in his head (hopefully none involving design), and now that he’s been fired, he felt “released.” Yes, one might say he’s “free”, or perhaps “liberated”, or maybe “out of the closet”.
Tonight we’re down to the final three, and I’d be shocked if Craig makes it beyond the interview stage, what with his inability to speak English. Then again, you just never know what will happen. Poor Kevin last year got screwed over for being too qualified. Maybe Craig’s marble mouth and bow tie will win over the execs.
What do you think? Should Alex have been fired? Who deserves to make it to the Final Two?