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This week’s Apprentice was all about Taster’s Choice, and in the spirit of product placement, I decided to speak with a British accent and ask my neighbor for some spare coffee grounds. Unfortunately, a man named Barry opened the door wearing nothing but some skimpy boxers, and my lame attempt to personally resurrect the Taster’s Choice commercials ended with me shivering traumatically in my apartment. The point is, sometimes coffee can lead to bad things, and in the case of one candidate, it can lead to reality extermination. Now that’ll wake you up in the morning.Last night’s show began on a peculiar note. Gone was the ostentatious and overproduced scoring. In its wake was a gentle guitar strumming and a lonely male voice singing sorrowfully. Could it be that the producers of The OC had taken over the show? No, it was only Danny picking at his guitar and doing his best Ryan Adams impersonation. Rumor has it he was auditioning for Zach Braff’s Indie Idol. If you haven’t heard of it, maybe you’re just not in the loop. It’s indie, you know.
After the coffee shop worthy performance ended, Danny declared “We’re starting to get along!” Cut to the sound of an ominous, Jurassic Park-ish thud on the soundtrack as Net Worth returned to the apartment. Why the scary sound? Were they coming to eat the college grads? Not necessarily. But they did bring news of Brian’s crash and burn boardroom from last week. Someone said that he basically fired himself, causing a perplexed Michael from Magna to ask if Brian had actually said to himself “I’m fired!” And to illustrate his question, Michael even did the cobra thing to his own face (excuse me while I hide under my degree). Honestly, it was one of the dumber things I’d seen on this show, and yet it was incredibly funny — probably because after Michael did the hand thing, he stood blankly as if he had actually been fired.
Meanwhile, in the bedroom, Verna was still tired. Danny arrived to comfort her, but I fear that he simply undid all the careful encouragement Carolyn gave last week during their little jaunt through the Jersey ghetto. Danny called a group meeting to make sure everyone was supporting Verna. We’re all behind you, he explained. If you feel sick tomorrow, we’ll cover for you. Suddenly the polite nods came to a screeching halt as everyone raised their index fingers in quiet protest. Turns out no one would support Verna that far, and rightfully so. With nothing left to discuss, Verna threw in the towel and opted to quit. Kendra then shouted “UNBELIEVABLE!” but when her team responded with uncomfortable glares, she added “I’m still not really sure when we say it.”
And so while the loft’s populace gathered together to eat, drink and be merry, Verna quietly exited the apartment to the tune of a weepy piano. We cut back and forth between the diners and Verna, with some people like Stephanie looking back to see only the shadow of a once great fast food patron. The whole thing sort of felt like one of those Zoloft commercials. I half expected a little ladybug to go by Verna’s head, causing her to smile and attract a well adjusted Zoloft ball friend. Alas, her fatigue was too great. If only she could have some coffee. Mayhaps some Taster’s Choice?
After the commercial break, Trump bellowed out “Lead with authority!” as this week’s lesson. We then watched him in action as he questioned a room full of businessmen, including Bill Rancic whose head swiveled from side to side with a look that said “Hey, this isn’t the bathroom at all!”
Returning back to the storyline, Danny called Rhona the next morning to say that Verna had quit. “Thank you. I will let Mr. Trump know that Verna has quit. Now, please head down to Times Square,” she said with the hostile precision of an automated phone system. In her defense, she had just sat through a ten minute Danny song titled “Rhona, I Wanna Phone Ya.” At Times Square, Trump greeted everyone and said that teams would be designing a marketing campaign for NesCafé Taster’s Choice. Two judges would then decide which team had created the most buzz. I personally was shocked that no cheesy buzz/coffee joke ensued. Instead, The Donald said “Taster’s Choice: It’s really good.” Yes, instant coffee is really good… in an inferior quality and taste kind of way. Trump then went on to describe Nestle by saying it was worth more than $100 billion dollars. “That’s about 96 billion more than I’m worth. And I’m not happy about that!” he joked. We then cut to Erin nearly busting out a hernia as she laughed/kissed up. It wasn’t THAT funny. Erin later explained that she just loves self-deprecating humor. That, and off camera there was this really funny mime. He did this whole escalator thing and… you just had to be there.
Anyway, Trump eventually waddled back to his limo, but not before greeting his sexay fan club which consisted of about six older ladies waving at him. If I’m not mistaken, an orthopedic bra was thrown his way. Speaking of h-h-hot ladies, Michael had the brilliant idea of having a sexy model girl handing out Taster’s Choice to the public. What a genius idea! And it so matches the carefully constructed image of sophistication and refinery that the brand has adopted over the years. Unsurprisingly, project manager Danny shot down Michael’s libidinous idea, but he had no great scheme to replace it. Instead, Danny spent the majority of the afternoon executing group votes on any variety of decisions: paying a vendor, taking a bathroom break, boxers or briefs. At one point he even had a vote on whether or not to move ahead. I’m surprised there was no vote on the voting results. “All those who think these voting results indicate a course of action say Aye.” Who would have thought Danny would foster such an environment of chaos? Maybe Stephanie, which would explain why she literally hid under a table to tackle her work.
Meanwhile, Net Worth was off and running. Neck scarf aficionado Angie took the helm as the master and commander of the team and immediately campaigned for an all American theme. The woman was on top of her ideas like gangbusters, and poor Chyna, I mean, Kristen could barely keep up with the minutes. Yeah. They’re gonna win.
And just like that we returned to the quagmire of creativity that was Magna. Alex did a little complaining, and I couldn’t help wondering if he was the secret love child of John C. McGinley and “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” winner John Carpenter. Bren, meanwhile, came up with the cool idea of giving away iPods. Sweet. Michael wasn’t very happy though. He wanted his showgirl (preferably one named Tiffany). In protest, he pouted in the corner, donning a serving tray as a hat. Oh, and did I mention that Michael’s exempt this week? Sigh.
The next morning, there was some minor drama in Team Magna as Michael refused to do any sort of heavy lifting. When Danny had the nerve to chide him, Michael let loose a torrent of curses and empty threats, all of which indicated that Michael most likely had a very small penis. Later that afternoon, Net Worth’s event seemed to go off without a hitch. They even had a faux-debate between hot and cold coffee. Oddly enough, Gwen Ifill moderated (and boy, did she suck). Just about the only flaw in Net Worth’s plan was having rage-aholic Chris on people patrol. “Anyone want ten thousand dollars? Anyone? HEY GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!!!!” he seemed to yell. Who else can’t wait for this guy’s firing episode.
We watched Net Worth for about two seconds, and when it was clear that they were basically flawless, we cut back to Magna where an unenthused Michael attempted to attract people to the event. In an interview he babbled about how bad everything was, and good god! His head is anchoring a spider web. I’m not even joking! How did that happen? Was he droning on for so long that a spider actually had time to sew a web from his head? His HEAD!
After the events were over, everyone seemed to don their Target outfits and face the judges. Hey, the judges look like a Target ad also. And here come Donald and Carolyn. Dammit, they’re wearing red, white and black too. Wow, the entire room is painted that way. What is going on? Are they going to sell me paper towels? No, they didn’t do that. Instead, they gave the win to Net Worth which cheered its way to victory. Magna meanwhile looked away dejectedly. Erin in particular had a slow-mo cutaway reaction that seemed to simply say “I think I forgot to flush the toilet this morning.”
As a reward, Net Worth was flown around Manhattan on a big helicopter. “There’s the Empire State Building!” exclaimed one of the members. Uh yeah, you’re flying right next to it. Not that easy to miss. Meanwhile, down in the loft, scandal was brewing. Everyone wanted Michael fired. Even though he was exempt, the whole crew felt confident that they could still get him canned. How? Not sure. Let’s not forget these people are idiots.
Anyway, the boardroom doors opened and Erin marched in first with the determined swagger of a secretary looking to refill some coffee (Taster’s Choice, natch). Maybe Erin wanted to be Rhona’s apprentice all this time. But no. Instead Erin launched into a sing-songy opening argument that reeked of My First Law Class. “Exemption is a word that has meaning… and exceptions,” she said as if reading to a mentally challenged armadillo. While everyone made a strong case that Michael was in fact lame, lazy, and useless, the simple fact remained that he was exempt. Irascible George asked why Danny didn’t just tell Michael to buzz off. “I handled it like a gentleman,” Danny responded. And by “gentleman”, he meant “incredibly disorganized mess”. He then added “Well, to be honest, we voted and decided I should act like a gentleman. And then we voted again and opted for gentleman, not gentleperson.”
Perhaps frustrated with the lunacy in his boardroom, Trump eventually honed his inner Chenbot and told Danny quite robotically, “You’re the team leader… sort of… like… a little bit… I don’t know… you’re not much of a leader… unfortunately.” He was just a few “STOP”s away from being a bona fide telegram. And for the record, Trump Telegrams are the number one telegrams in the country. They earn more than three billion dollars a year.
Eventually Danny returned to the boardroom with Michael and Stephanie, and before long, The Donald officially anointed Magna’s performance as “a disaster.” Man, there’s really no gray area with this guy. Trump cornered Stephanie and asked if she thought Michael and Danny were just two male losers. We then cut to Carolyn smiling like it was Christmas day at the mere hint of male bashing. Awww… She’s so happy! Anyway, in the end, even though Michael did a “terrible, terrible” job, Trump decided to abide by his rules and fired Danny. Eh, it was pretty inevitable. The guy sort of sucked. And yet, I sort of liked him. Kind of makes me want to go grab a guitar and sing a song, maybe join Greenpeace.
Well, time for the walk of shame. Danny emerged happily from Trump Towers as he and the doorman exchanged thumbs up. I don’t know what the doorman was thinking. Probably something along the lines of “I stand out here in the cold, and you don’t have the decency to tip me? Yeah, thumbs up to you too motherf–cker.” Nevertheless, Danny jumped into a cab and drove off into the cruel, guitar-unfriendly night. We then cut to commercial, and there was Robin! All grown up and in her very own spot. Wow, she really works that vacuous angle well. Anyway, upon return, Danny sat in the back of the cab for his show ending confessional, but instead of addressing the camera and repressing his rage amidst a string of forced niceties, Danny busted out his guitar (eyes rolling) and put his feelings into song. Please shut him up. Here’s to hoping that taxi accidentally drove off into the East River.