Man oh man am I behind in my recaps. I should really stop bitching and moaning, but in the spirit of reality TV, why not play the victim and make a giant drama? Well, I apologize again. I was hoping to tackle this recap last night, but after a transatlantic flight on American Airlines left me hungry (no more complimentary snacks? WTF???), uncomfortable (who needs legroom?), and sick of Mike O’Malley’s big face (“Eye On American” never disappoints. At least the Chenbot was around to babble about Paul Anka), I was hardly in a state to write anything coherent. Thankfully, this afternoon I am replenished and full of snark, which is a good thing because this week’s episode of The Apprentice was goofy as always. We didn’t have our old firecracker Chris around, but luckily our wrath can now happily refocus on Craig and Alex, the underwhelming duo of mediocrity that have managed to fail upwards week after week. Unskilled workers advancing in a corporate environment? Wow, this show puts “reality” in reality TV!The episode began with – you guessed it – more illogical guesswork as to who’d survive the Boardroom. There was a fleeting thought that Chris might get fired, but everyone revised their theories and instead targeted Bren. People, Chris has been on the chopping block about seven times in a row. How could it be Bren? Well, according to Tana, “He’s just a big zero.” Ouch. Say what you will, but the Tana-meister always knows how to kick off an hour with a harsh put-down. Let’s not forget last week’s assessment that Chris was a virgin while the rest of them were sluts. Next week I predict she’ll simply call someone a “piece of shit” or maybe just vomit at the mention of somebody’s name.
Anyway, Bren and Alex returned, and they quickly gave the blow by blow, noting how emotional Chris became upon firing. Tana expressed great concern as she asked, “He was choked up, but he walked out all right?” Yeah, he was all right, although I think he may have had something to do with that primal scream followed by the explosion down on the street.
That evening, Bren and Alex went to a local lounge and chomped on cigars. The heartstrings were tugging (okay, not at all) as Bren described how he’d found a new best friend in Alex. Huh? Where did this come from? I mean, Troy and Kwame — those two were a pair. They were practically beating each other off by the end of every episode. But Bren and Alex? I guess this was all a setup to an inevitable boardroom showdown between the two. Playing your cards too early, producers.
The next morning, after Rhona placed her usual pre-dawn call, we were privy to the glorious site of our candidates washing up for Mr. Trump. The good news: we were spared seeing Craig on the shitter. The bad news: entirely too much Bren flesh. Imagine the Penguin from Batman Returns. Now imagine him naked. Yeah, it was that bad.
Anyway, we then moved onto The Donald (not naked, thank god) as he chatted it up with two Staples execs in his office. The new hottie secretary (watch your back Rhona) ushered in the candidates (including Tana and her sexy miniskirt) who quickly learned of their new task: create an item for Staples that would reduce office clutter. Sounds like a decent undertaking. Donald then of course told us that Staples is a THIRTEEN BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS, and honestly, I expected him to turn to the little microphone and transmitter next to him and blare it out over all of New York. By the way, did anyone else notice that device on his desk? I imagine Trump probably has some sort of show on satellite radio. Either that, or he just really likes talking to truckers. Maybe he puts on a little cap and sings “Cause we gotta little ol’ convoy, rockin’ through the night. Yeah we gotta little ol’ convoy, ain’t she a beautiful sight?”
The teams quickly split up to figure out their game plans. We smelled insta-death for Net Worth as Alex volunteered to be Project Manager. Ah yes. Alex. The creative genius whose previous contribution to retail was the laptop sweatshirt pouch. What would he design this time? A sweatshirt to store clutter? I guess it would be part of his all-utility sweatshirt brand he’s developing. I’m personally looking forward to the sweatshirt deep fryer.
Magna was in better hands – barely – with Craig, a marble-mouthed dunderhead who at the very least rose the the challenge once with his famed “Box” idea a few weeks ago. He immediately instituted a policy of “write down whatever idea you have”, which was his passive aggressive way of telling Kendra to shut up. For those of you just joining The Apprentice 3, Craig and Kendra don’t really get along very well. Surely this task would be a recipe for disaster. Craig explained to us his perspective on Kendra. “You’ve had your chance to lead the way you lead, and I want you to respect mine’s.” Wow, he is a bigger idiot than I ever thought. Say what you will about the street smarts team, but they have a wonderful ability to make up their own words. Take THAT, higher education! Why learn real, appropriate words when you can just come up with your own? To his credit though, Craig could have been referring to “mines” not “mine’s” – as in, he wants Kendra to respect landmines. It’s a noble concern.
Back at Net Worth, Alex and Bren arrived at Smart Design, a company that creates customized consumer products (think Sprockets meets Ikea). The first order of business was to call the Staples execs and get a sense of what they wanted. Unfortunately, cell phone reception conspired against Net Worth, and the two guys were left with some crackles, static, and eventually a voicemail box. Alex realized that he probably should have met with them face to face, but he rationalized his ineptness, saying “They’re not a client. Just judges.” Uh, actually, they ARE the client. After all, you are designing this item FOR them, right?
What Alex really needed to do was take control of the situation, and conveniently, Trump came on the screen with his weekly tip, which was “Take Control!” This was illustrated by him walking by a building and calling out to two men on scaffolding. “Do a perfect job! Do a perfect job!” he ordered. Uh, they’re just getting rid of a dead pigeon. And it’s not even your building, Trump. WTF???
Anyway, while the good ole boys of Net Worth struggled with their cell phone, Magna actually met up with the executives who emphasized the need for a simple, easy product. We then cut to a squirrel butt which may or may not have been the producers editorial reaction to Staples. Afterwards, the three headed into the office supply store and poked around. As usual, Kendra and Tana got to work asking shoppers what they needed around the office, and to their luck, they found what appeared to be Gunther from Friends moonlighting as an office manager. While he clued the gals into the wonderful world of plastic stackables, Craig literally wandered through the store like a small child searching for a balloon. The producers were kind enough to show the condescending image of him opening a desk drawer and watching transfixed as it closed ever so slowly. Yay, physics!
Office manager and Gunther: separated at birth?
Having no luck with the impromptu focus group was Bren who literally cold called offices and introduced himself as an informal survey taker (or surveyor, I suppose). Not only did he receive no feedback with this strategy, but he also showed absolutely no creativity. For some reason, he and Alex seemed to have this foggy notion that they were never to leave their office EVER. Just walk across the street and poll some people in a different building! Instead, Bren sat by the phone and let out one of his signature evil cackles. Man, I like Bren, but he has the potential to be very scary. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ever led an angry mob with torches.
Anyway, with no market research, Bren and Alex simply decided to design their item. Alex drew a neat little sketch of a table with wheels and shelves, also known as a “desk”. Suddenly, Fat Joe-ish music twinkled on the soundtrack as the Smart Design mafia shuffled into the room. The graphic designers (who I imagined were all named Jürgen) surrounded Bren and Alex, and I half expected them to shove around the two neophytes, maybe saying something like “You have to work for your umlaut here!”
“Our name is Jürgen. We shall turn you into an Ikea lamp now.”
Over at Magna, Kendra complained that Craig had stolen her stackable idea. Technically, it was her and Tana’s idea, and, well, was it really stealing? I don’t like Craig very much, but Kendra’s claim was a bit of an overstatement. Anyway, the final design was to take four stackables and arrange them in a square (except the stackables wouldn’t be horizontal – or “landscape”. They’d be vertical). The team headed over to Staples again to get supplies, and as they entered the front door, Tana happily chirped, “Get a little basket, huh!” What isn’t she enthusiastic about? She could scratch her head and exclaim, “Oooh! That was a big itch! Glad I got it!”
Unfortunately for Magna, the simple task of finding supplies soon turned into World War III as Kendra wanted to use file folders whereas Craig didn’t. In an interview, Craig spoke clearly and logically, saying that the judges would ask why there’s a horizontal folder in a vertical stackable; so therefore it would be easiest to just not show the folder at all. But face to face with Kendra, he simply reverted to his usual babble of incoherence and Bill Cosby sounds. That didn’t mean he couldn’t be an effective asshole though. “We’re gonna run this by you slowly,” he told Kendra. Hey, wasn’t this the same guy who couldn’t figure out Kendra’s Pontiac marketing scheme, even after she had explained it to him over and over again? Now he’s acting like she’s the dense one? Okay, maybe they’re ALL dense.
Anyway, Kendra reacted to Craig’s comment negatively, saying “That’s condescending, and that’s not very nice.” Yeah, he was a big meanie! How could he talk to her like she’s a five year old? Kendra then went off and sucked her thumb in the corner for ten minutes.
The next morning, Alex and Bren returned to Smart Design to see their newly created product. Alex was extremely enthusiastic, just barely containing the “Like OH MY GOD!” he so desperately wanted to let out.
Alex bubbles over with joy. But more importantly, what’s the deal with the creepy guy checking out his package?
I was immediately distracted, however, by Alex’s vintage shirt which appeared to be an old pilot uniform. Was he going to fly the desk off to Staples? Upon closer inspection though, the patches on the collarbone were in fact some sort of leopard print. Fab! But wait, then he turned around and revealed an entire patterned back. Two snaps and an air kiss for that!
“This leopard print makes me look F-A-B, so you can zip it, Bren!”
Having less of a happy morning was Magna which was ready to tussle one more time. Kendra and Craig battled over the file folder issue — again — causing Craig to brag that he’d been around workplaces longer and therefore knew better. Now, if I were Kendra, I would have just dropped the issue, but reality stars will be reality stars, which meant it was time for Tana to take a step back and let the wolves go at it. “You’re condescending!” charged Kendra, causing an angry Craig to rebut: “You don’t know what that means!” Uh, actually, wasn’t your response the very definition of “condescending”?
Craig continued: “I’ve given you respect that you don’t even deserve, young lady!” Not that he’s being condescending or anything…
“Every time I’ve asked you to do something, you have told me ‘no,’” replied Kendra.
“Every time? Listen to your use of verbage!” balked Craig, joining Chris in the ranks of misusing “verbage” instead of “verbiage”, which in and of itself would have been misused as well (technically, it means “wordiness” and I’m pretty sure Craig was talking about “word choice”). Nevertheless, Kendra quickly revised her statement:
“Okay, ALMOST every time.”
“Now you’re a liar,” responded Chris. And you’re an IDIOT!
As for Tana, she simply sat back and bit into her baguette, letting out a quiet “Mmmm!” Once again, the never-dying enthusiasm…
Despite the confrontation, Magna put on big smiles for the Staples execs (Kendra likened it to being in a bad marriage that had died years ago) and commenced the presentation for their item which — HOLY SHIT! That thing is enormous! It’s like having a rotating toy chest on your desk! Anyway, Magna became very informercial-ish as Craig knocked over some pencils on his desk, adding to the crazy clutter around him. I like how people become so uncoordinated with these things. I once saw an informercial for a tape thingy that asked “Tired of those tricky tape dispensers?” We then saw some dumb woman with Scotch tape all over her hands and shirt. She didn’t need a new tape dispenser. She needed a group home.
Anyway, with the pencils all spilled everywhere, Tana walked up to Craig and asked, “It looks to me like you need a lot of help here.” Wow, was this going to be a porno? Sadly, no. (But if you add some hardcore music, it can get close. Listen for yourself.) We then watched as seemingly everything in the Staples store managed to fit in the stackable caddy. The execs seemed impressed, and so did the focus group of office managers.
Next up were Fric and Frac, also known as Alex and Bren. With great bombast, they introduced their rolling desk, which they had affectionately dubbed, “The Packrat”. Alex then happily placed an electronic stapler on The Packrat, thus proving its ability to remove clutter. He then moved several piles over from a desk to the Packrat surface, saying “You can set a third stack. Or a fourth stack. Or a fifth stack!” Uh, how is that actually solving the clutter issue? Wasn’t he just moving the clutter from one desk to another? To make matters worse, genius designer Alex made sure to house in-boxes and out-boxes under a plexi-glass surface. The only problem: the boxes didn’t slide out. You had to actually lift up the glass, which might be a problem if you have a “third stack. Or a fourth stack. Or a fifth stack” on top. So basically, at the end of the day, they created a table.
Despite these design flaws, Alex was still confident in his creation, boasting, “This is a brand new approach!” Suddenly there was a timpani crash – literally – on the soundtrack (was a tribal ceremony beginning?) and the office managers began their questions. Mostly, people took issue with the in-box/out-box scenario. Why have it under the glass? Alex babbled some excuses, saying that this way, people could do their work and still see their inbox under the glass and remember “Oh, I have stuff in my inbox!” Of course, if the Packrat were to become, I don’t know, cluttered with piles, people might not see through that glass. Besides, how would someone NOT see their inbox if it were just on top of their desk and in the open?
Still, Alex was not going to let all these haters rain on his parade. He had too much pride (Hmmm… “pride”… “parade”… I feel like I’m closing in on something…). When Trump surfaced, Alex announced that “we killed them [Magna].” Without hearing anymore, we then knew for sure that Alex and Bren had lost (elementary Mark Burnett misdirection), and sure enough, they did. As a result, Magna won a breakfast with Carolyn and George high atop Rockefeller Plaza in the Rainbow Room (although, on that morning, it looked more like the Thick Fog Room. Shut up, WEATHER!). There wasn’t much that was notable about the breakfast of champions except that George once again sat back and began telling stories. I love when Grandpa shares!
Eventually though, it was time for the Boardroom. Trump immediately grilled Alex about the product design, noting the idiocy of the plexi-glass surface. Alex defended it, saying that the Pack Rat was good for two periods of work: morning work would go on top, and the afternoon stuff you could remember because you could still see the stacks under the glass. Huh? Exactly how short term of a memory does Alex have?
George particularly hated the in-box/out-box under the glass feature. Why not use a drawer (THANK YOU)? Even worse, “All you see when you put it in there is what’s on TOP!” he barked. Man, he was feisty. Later, when Carolyn questioned Alex and Bren’s faith in the product, she had to actually shush George, lest he bring up the old soda jerk again. “Back in my day, we didn’t have Packrats! We had milk crates. And if you didn’t like them, too bad! That was an extra nickel for me!”
The axe seemed to be swinging towards Alex, especially after Trump declared “You started off so strong and you’re finishing weak.” But then Bren just had to open up his trap. “I definitely have trouble taking risks,” he confessed, a comment so moronic that the only reaction came from George, who simply said “Heh.” From that point on, Bren was pounced on by not just Trump & Co., but Alex as well. Asked why Bren should be fired, Alex noted, “When I graduated high school, I was top twenty-five in the world for eighteen year-olds for ski racing.” So apparently Bren won’t be able to keep up in the all-important slalom portion of Trump’s organization?
Alex then went on a tear about all the risks he’s taken – from going to law school (not very risky) to studying in Israel (okay, risky) to serving as a lobbyist in DC (again, not risky). Bren merely sat quietly, much to the dismay of Trump. “Branson went after me. I killed him. Cuban went after me. I killed him,” The Donald said, adding “Coming after me is a THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR industry. That’s why I created clones to come after me, and guess what, folks? I killed them all!”
In the end, Bren’s remarks about risks and his inability to defend himself with passion caused him to get the pink slip. Alex hugged his BFF tightly in the lobby, saying “Love you, bro.” He then added, “Seriously, I like LOVE you. Maybe a little butt sex before the elevator? Just throwing it out there. No? Okay, that’s all good.”
Now we’re down to the Final Four, but with three weeks to go, I find myself slightly confused. After all, don’t we narrow down the field to two contestants this week after a round of corporate interviews? And then from there, aren’t we immediately into the final task? Maybe this season we’ll whittle it down to three people before the big interviews. Either way, can’t wait! (Picture a still frame of me jumping in the air).
What do you think? Would you get the Desk Apprentice? Is Craig dumb or is he brilliant?