So NBC hyped up this week’s edition of The Apprentice as the one where Brent loses it. I mean, LOSES it. You know, goes completely and utterly berserk. I could not have been more excited. However, after watching the show, I had to register general disappointment. That wasn’t a breakdown. That was a tiff. An angry spat. Raised voices, some pointed remarks, and overuse of the word “stink” and that pretty much sums up this week’s Brent attack. C’mon NBC. When you say blow-up, we expect big things. We’re smart viewers. We’ve been around this reality gambit for a few years. We’ve seen chairs thrown, arms flailing, saliva projected. You can’t hype up this sort of stuff and not deliver. It’s this sort of phony marketing that’s causing Apprentice viewers to flee in droves. Then again, I can’t complain about being too savvy and then fall for stupid marketing ploys time and time again (let’s not even talk about the last Survivor).This week’s episode of The Apprentice was okay. Nothing great. Nothing terrible. I knew it would be hard to top last week’s total disaster on Gold Rush — an almost magical offering in its multi-tiered bickering. Anyway, I suppose in an attempt to snag each and every Deal or No Deal viewer, the show started about a minute or two later than usual and eschewed the “Previously on” recap, instead opting to plunge right back into the action without a moment to spare. We found ourselves again watching Theresa’s wonderful crash and burn in the Boardroom, leading up to her inevitable firing. Then Lenny and Tarek returned to the suite where everyone marveled at how much worse this Boardroom was compared to the last one. And if anyone remembers Gold Rush’s first Boardroom, that’s saying a lot.
Well, everyone was totally shocked that Lenny and Tarek were the ones spared by Trump. I’m sure most of them thought Lenny was going home, but hey, you can’t get rid of Lenny now. He has so much to offer, so many people to put down. Leslie, however, was totally surprised by this outcome, saying over and over again, “I would not have thought that.” Well, there are a lot of things that people never think of that happen anyway. Kind of like hiring a horse and buggy to trot around a Chevy corporate retreat.
Knowing that he dodged a massive bullet once again, Tarek told us that his butt was really on the line now. If his team goes to the Boardroom again, he’s basically a goner, he said. Charmaine, meanwhile, learned that Theresa was fired because she didn’t take her into the Boardroom, causing her to first ask incredulously, “That’s why she got fired?” And then like a true shark in the corporate world, Charmaine retreated to her bed and cried. “I just feel so bad about that!” she bawled. Oh be quiet. You’re happy, and you know it.
The next morning, Rhona made her first glorious appearance of the season by placing an early morning wakeup call. Everyone was to go downstairs and meet Trump at the buffet. For some reason, Dan took that as a reason to bust out his giant yellow scarf, which he proudly wore down to the lobby. It was like he’d yanked a drapery off the wall and flung it around his neck. Anyway, we eventually cut to The Donald at his buffet, examining the various nutritional offerings. “We serve a lot of breakfast in the Trump Atrium,” he boasted. Okay, seriously, he’s bragging about breakfast now. Is there anything he won’t cluck about? I can just imagine him saying, “Our rotating doors rotate more than any other rotating doors in the city!”
Anyway, we then saw a quick montage of all the culinary wonders Trump’s buffet had to offer — cereals! Danishes! Omelets! And a random Indian woman! Might this have been Toral’s long lost mother? The same woman who had instilled a sense of pride and dignity in her daughter so that she would never have to appear as Zip, the Dairy Queen mascot? No, sadly, this was not Toral’s mom. She was instead one of the executives from the Post corporation, which was happily pimping out their new brand, Post Grapenuts Trail Mix Crunch — or something like that. I couldn’t remember the woman’s name, but don’t worry. I wasn’t the only one.
“Standing next to me are two very talented executives from Post,” Trump said. “Your names, please?” Wow, they were so talented that Trump didn’t even know their names. They’re that good!
Well, after the execs introduced themselves, Trump announced that the teams would be each designing their own billboards to market the new cereal, and the Post executives would decide which campaign was most effective. Also hanging around for this week’s task were George and Ivanka, which was cool, but the low number of George/Carolyn pairings this season has been truly upsetting.
The first team we saw brainstorming was Synergy, and already we knew they’d be losing. Why? Well, first, Brent was on this team, and there’d been so much Brent hype this week, I naturally just assumed this team would be going down in flames. Second of all, the losing team always seems to be profiled first. It’s not a guarantee, but more often than not, that’s what happens. Anyway, Tammy (a.k.a. Andrea’s lapdog) volunteered herself to be Project Manager since she had alleged experience in marketing. She immediately kicked off a brainstorming process, asking all her teammates if they’d ever had Grapenuts, if they had any associations with the cereal, etc. Lil’ Allie piped up with her own mildly odd observation:
“That’s all I remember about my childhood — my dad crunching on Grapenuts,” she chirped. That’s the only thing she could remember? That’s incredibly sad.
Anyway, Tammy began delegating tasks to her minions, and when she asked who felt comfortable pitching to executives, Brent happily raised his hand. One problem: no one trusted Brent as far as they could throw him. Heck, they didn’t trust him as far as they could roll him (which was about a millimeter). Tammy condescendingly told Brent that she wouldn’t have him talk to the execs and instead would prefer him to… coordinate clothes instead. Keep in mind that this task involved no clothing coordination whatsoever. Well, Brent understood what was going on, but he quietly went with the flow, offering up his services in the brainstorming department instead. Unfortunately, that didn’t go so well either. He kept pushing weigh-loss angles for the billboard, and while that was all cool and everything, after the forty-fifth weight-loss idea, his team was growing quite weary of the whole idea.
Luckily, Allie reached deep into her Daddy Issues and came up with this Freudian idea: “What about a picture of, say, somebody that looks like our father passing the Grapenuts down to, say, someone in their thirties?” She then added, “And how about, say, that father tells his daughter that, say, he’s always loved her and been proud of her and only drank because he was lonely. And he loves her so much. So so much. He’s so sorry for leaving. So sorry for everything!” And with that, Allie ran from the room, crying, “Poppa! Poppa! Don’t leave me again!!!”
Okay, none of that happened, but Allie really did propose the father/daughter thing, and the team surprisingly liked it. Apparently they had lost sight of the fact that they were marketing an active, trail-mix brand, not a Werther’s Original commercial.
Nevertheless, the team’s excitement over the idea climaxed when Tammy came up with her populist slogan: “Finally, a cereal for everybody!” Who knew that Grapenuts could be so Marxist?
I had to admit, the slogan really worked for me. I mean, how many times do I go to the supermarket and think, “I wish there were a cereal not just for me, but for everybody!” Finally, my wishes have come true.
Around this time, Ivanka came in to cast her waxen gaze upon the group. She noticed how Brent had been relegated to the corner, and predicted that this strategy would surely blow up in the team’s face. Sure enough, we then found Brent talking to Tammy quietly about how he felt he could better serve the team by presenting to the execs. And once again, the Project Manager patronizingly rebuffed him, saying, “Since we’re not really going the weight loss direction, I don’t know if that’s the image we want to project to the executives.” It was kind of her way of saying, “You are enormously fat. I am embarrassed by your massive girth.”
This understandably offended Brent, who then told us that when it came to Tammy, “I can’t stand her face!” To be fair, the only faces he can stand are people who look like chocolate glazed crullers.
We then went to commercial, and when we returned, Trump taught us about the fine art of the kiss. No, we didn’t then see him and Melania swapping spit (eww). Instead, The Donald spoke the old phrase, “Keep It Simple, Stupid!” Sort of a self-explanatory lesson — do I really need to explain it? Anyway, we knew the winning team would be keeping it simple and/or stupid, and about two seconds later, it became abundantly clear that Gold Rush was in fact keeping it simple. We could tell because Lee kept saying, “Let’s keep it simple.”
Charmaine was the Project Manager of Gold Rush, and after the thrashing she got in the Boardroom last week, she was out to prove that she was a strong leader. So far, she actually seemed in control and self-possessed, as opposed to Theresa’s manic “GET ME A HORSE AND CARRIAGE!” rampage last time around. Everything seemed to be great. The only problem: no idea. As the clock ticked away, the teammates scratched their heads and tried to think of something noteworthy. I desperately hoped Lenny would come up with some idea like “Grapenuts in a bowl. There. Simple. Simpler than the Earth and the moon and the sea.” But it was Bryce who eventually came up with the winning concept: someone chugging a box of Grapenuts.
“Lezz do it,” Lenny said. And thus it was approved. Lenny’s the best.
Back at Synergy, the crack team of Allie, Roxanne, and Sean were scouring the streets, trying to find models for their Daddy-Daughter billboard. They eventually pulled aside a pretty, young woman with a red umbrella who at first seemed guarded about modeling, but seriously — what sort of woman toting a red umbrella can resist the charms of a British accent? That’s right. None. Next, the trio had to find some father figures, and for whatever strange reason, Allie kept picking men who were about 33 or 35. I’ll just assume that’s how old Allie’s dad was before he left the family to join the Grapenuts circus.
Meanwhile, Gold Rush’s search for America’s Next Top Apprentice Model was short and sweet. Tarek immediately found a woman on the street and said to her, “Excuse me, Miss. Can I ask you something that’s going to be totally shady? Do you speak English?” Well, who can deny a pitch like that? The woman fluttered her eyes and agreed to take part in the photo shoot, happily climbing into the big, white van with Tarek and his teammates. Now, that didn’t seem very smart. What if they were Scientologists? What if they were abducting her? Stranger things have happened.
Over at Synergy, Andrea was leading up the billboard’s graphic design, much to Brent’s dismay. Every idea that he had, she merely rolled her eyes and scoffed at Tammy, as if to say, “Why is this fat man talking to me? Doesn’t he realize that I’m SKINNY???”
As usual, Brent had lots to say to us about the whole situation: “I don’t think Andrea’s an expert in graphics design. The only thing I think Andrea’s an expert in is being an asshole, and Andrea, you might be joining Tammy in a taxi cab, and I hope you both have a good time smelling each other’s crap because you both stink!” Wow, sounds like somebody didn’t get to eat four bagels today.
Well, Brent may have been pissed, but the girls didn’t care. They were just thrilled that their design had turned out so well. “Do you guys think we nailed it?” Tammy asked — a question that always leads to a team’s downfall. Nevertheless, Andrea said yes, causing Tammy to coo, “I love you!”
“I love you too!” Andrea responded.
“I love you also!” Brent added, but to be fair, he was addressing a jelly donut.
The illl-fated excitement at Synergy extended across town at the photo studio where Sean, Allie, and Roxanne were shooting their models. “It looks fantastic!” Sean gushed. “It’s really captured the old and the new!” Actually, it looked more like two random people holding bowls of cereal, but that’s just me. Everything seemed to be just dandy until Andrea sent over a jpeg of her graphic design masterwork. Turns out that the models didn’t quite fit into image so well. Also turns out that the image looked like a cereal box, not a billboard. Also turns out that these people were all idiots. This was such a poorly conceived idea, I didn’t know how any of them could even be optimistic.
Meanwhile, at Gold Rush, the team gathered with the graphic designer to choose which pictures of their model they wanted. Unfortunately, they only had about five shots to choose from, which really didn’t make much sense. Any seasoned viewer of America’s Next Top Model knows that any photo shoot requires at least 100 frames. How did this team only wind up with five shots? Anyway, turns out that none of the pics were that great, but Charmaine kept a healthy outlook and powered on. Bryce, on the other hand, felt some cold feet about his idea. What if it didn’t work? What if it failed? Would the blame fall on his shoulders? Fearing that his whole concept might backfire, Bryce then proposed an image of just empty boxes instead, causing Charmaine to bristle at his unwillingness to take ownership of his idea. Luckily, she kept on the straight and narrow and worked with what she had. “Pretty simple,” she said. Just give them their reward now.
The next morning, Gold Rush was out the door by 6:30 AM. Synergy, on the other hand, was lagging behind, in no small part due to Brent, who was still lumbering around in his underwear by 7:01 AM. This understandably drove his teammates crazy, and while Brent brushed his coif into the messy bird’s nest that we know and love, Andrea harassed him for being slow and late and worthless and fat and whatnot. This led to a feisty sparring match between the two, with Brent saying that Andrea did a terrible job as Project Manager and that she took all the credit for her team’s hard work. “You unappreciative you-know-what!” he seethed at her. (That had better not have been the big blow up).
Well, Andrea proved that she was indeed far superior to Brent by rebutting, “All right. You pulled it out. That’s why I’m a multi-millionaire and you make $50,000 a year?” Ouch. The super bitch has arrived! Of course, the glaring question is if Andrea is a multi-millionaire, why the hell does she need to be Trump’s Apprentice? Why even bother with this show? Oh, that’s right. It’s that undying quest for fame and recognition (and perhaps a decent dye job).
Anyway, despite Brent’s state of undress, Synergy made it out the door not too long after, and both teams showed up at Post where they waited for their billboards — or banners, really — to be unfurled. Trump arrived not long after, braving the rain like the champ that he is. “It’s really raining out there!” he remarked upon entering, adding, “Rain is a THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY! That’s why I’m introducing TRUMP RAIN, the only rain that comes with the quality you expect from the Trump name. Don’t let it land on your head unless you see my face on it!”
Well, the good people of Post unfurled the banners — all to the sound of soaring fanfare. I half expected a royal procession to march through the corporate headquarters. Perhaps a coach and horses. Oooh! Somebody get Theresa!!!
Synergy (left) and Gold Rush (right)
The Gold Rush banner was simple, clear and active as it showed a girl just about to chug down some sweet, sweet Grapenut Trail Mix Crunch. There wasn’t a lot of text, just a simple slogan (“It’s that good!”) and the image, but that was enough. Plus, the team had a nifty presentation for the execs that included a baby stroller full of cereal boxes. Just as I began to scratch my head, Charmaine explained that the baby carriage was to introduce the newest member of the Post family. Awwww. It’s cute AND it makes me want to buy!
As for the Synergy banner, well, there were some problems. Off the bat, Trump could not believe that the guy was supposed to be the girl’s father. He assumed boyfriend. Then again, unless there’s an age difference of about forty-five years, he’ll always think it’s the boyfriend (right, Melania?). But in all fairness to The Donald, he was right on this one. The guy definitely looked like the girl’s suitor, which obviously muddied Allie’s all-important Daddy story. On top of this, the banner was cluttered with words and slogans (way to go, ANDREA), and the final nail in the coffin — Sean’s awful powerpoint presentation. Why there was a Powerpoint presentation is beyond me. All I know is that Sean stammered and stuttered through his notes until Trump finally put him and us out of our misery and stopped it.
Now it was time for the execs to deliberate. They had many issues with the Synergy banner for all the reasons listed above. Gold Rush, on the other hand, they labeled as “brilliant.” It was so good that the male exec couldn’t even resist a little dash of freestyle: “She says nutritious; the cereal says delicious!” To which I say, “The comment says rehearsed; the dumb grin says the worst.” Man, rhyming is tricky. That Post exec really deserves more credit.
Well, for Gold Rush’s reward, the team got to spend an afternoon cooking with world renowned chef, Jean Georges. Yay! This meant watching the teammates as they watched the chef toil around his kitchen, probably none too happy to have these outsiders in his domain. At one point, Jean added some vodka to a bowl, causing Lenny to predictably insist, “More! More! Don’t stop!” He then added, “I’m Russian! And I’m stereotypical!”
Later, when Jean Georges had finished a plate, Lenny (oh Lenny) stopped the chef and insisted that he put on his own “finishing touches” to the plate. The surly Russian then dipped his finger in a bowl of cayenne pepper and sprinkled it around the plate. Yes, he garnished Jean Georges creation. It was fairly disrespectful and idiotic, buuuuttt… you gotta love Lenny for it.
“Theeese eees simple recipe. I learned when I was riding blimp!”
Meanwhile, back at the suite, we found Sean lying on his bed with Allie and Roxanne inexplicably draped over him. It was like the lamest ménage à trois of all time. They all mumbled about what would happen in the Boardroom, and Sean noted that they couldn’t blame Brent for the team’s failure because he’d been given nothing to do. In another room, however, Andrea was having absolutely no problem bending her logic to blame Brent for everything. According to her, the whole task was a team failure, and therefore, the weakest member of the team should be dropped. Why, that’s a fine rationalization. We’ll just overlook the terrible job you did with the graphics.
The passive aggressive battle for the bed continues…
Over course, Tammy completely agreed with Andrea, saying that Brent was rude and overbearing. It’s true. He really is rude. He’s always going around and putting people down based on how much money they earn. Oh wait, that was Andrea who did that. Hmmm… I know Brent did something rude recently. Oh yes. He ate four bagels at once! There are starving people in Africa. His brazen disregard for them was totally uncalled for. RUDE!
With everyone gunning for him, Brent wasn’t concerned. He knew he’d survive. “I will be back — stronger, more powerful than ever,” he announced. And by “stronger, more powerful than ever” he meant “sweaty.”
In the Boardroom, Brent was actually kept out of the fray. Trump, George, and Ivanka preyed on the various things that went wrong, like the graphics. George was particularly mad about all the clutter on the banner. “There were words all over it. Different texts. Different fonts… Who DID that??” He HATES lots of fonts. I’m surprised he didn’t yell, “Back in my day, there was only one font, and you USED it! And if you didn’t like it, tough luck! That’s how WE ran a soda jerk!”
As for the slogan, Tammy said it was a good one, but then took about five minutes to recite it, possibly forgetting it along the way. Ivanka, meanwhile, seemed swept away by the other team’s billboard. “It was… it was exciting,” she said, her mind perhaps wandering off to some daydream where she’s lying on a beach in Curacao, sipping Piña Coladas with the banner.
I thought Tammy might get some heat for her job as Project Manager, but in fact, everyone seemed to like her, even Roxanne, who I like to think of as the “normal” person on the team. Roxanne went so far as to say that Tammy’s great sincerity kept the team together. That’s a big endorsement coming from Roxanne. Trump then focused on Sean and his terrible presentation. He thrashed the Brit’s performance, and just as it seemed like he was ready to tear into someone else, Andrea perhaps, Brent committed the most common error of fired candidates: he opened his big, fat mouth.
Brent piped up and said that if he were doing the presentation, he wouldn’t have choked. But alas, he couldn’t do the presentation because he wasn’t allowed to. Well, once Brent began talking, it was all downhill from him. When Trump asked him what he thought of Tammy, he harshly responded, “I thought Tammy stank as a Project Manager, and it smells right over here, Mr. Trump.” Unfortunately, Trump didn’t think Tammy stunk. He thought she was okay, and now he wanted Brent to back up his claims that she “stunk.” Well, sensing that Brent was now in The Donald’s cross-hairs, the teammates immediately pounced.
“I would say that Brent’s embarrassing and a liability to the team,” Andrea said, causing Brent to snap back with the ever so thoughtful rebuke, “I think you’re a liability to the team. How do you like that one, Andrea?” Sadly, this did not turn into a five minute round of “I know you are, but what am I?” or perhaps a little “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.”
“I was thinking that maybe we could get coffee sometime. No?”
Roxanne then stated that Brent doesn’t listen to anyone. I’m sure Brent would have been able to defend this point well had he not interrupted her midway through her sentence. Oh man, he was just falling apart. For no reason! Brent then complained that he was not utilized because he was fat, to which Trump essentially said “Eh.” Even George didn’t care. The way they looked at it, why would Tammy use an overweight guy to promote a healthy cereal? No one seemed to mention that the whole “healthy cereal” angle wasn’t even being used. Ultimately, Trump thought that Brent was coming on strong and hard for no real reason.
“Why couldn’t you be more moderate?” Trump asked, causing me to nearly spit out the water I pretended to have in my mouth. I liked how Donald Trump was asking for moderation. This from the guy who once said that his buffet was the best in the city, possibly the world. And never mind that a person makes one small mistake and he labels them A DISASTER!
Anyway, with the clock winding down on the hour, it didn’t take long to figure out where this was heading. Trump didn’t even bother having Tammy pick two people to come back with her. He just busted out the finger gun in front of the whole group. Yup, he fired Brent.
“Out. Over. Go!” Trump scowled. I couldn’t say that I blamed him. Brent could have been silent the whole time, but instead he came on hot and heavy (literally and figuratively) for no real reason. Time to cut him loose. But was that really it? Where was Brent’s huuuuuge breakdown? I didn’t see it anywhere. Maybe I missed something. Nevertheless, beware, bagel bakers of the world. Brent Michael Buckman is on the loose!
What did you think? Was it time for Brent to go? And was Brent misunderstood or just a total mess? Or both?