Wow. This was a remarkable episode. No, not because it was particularly exciting or emotional or intense, but because the two teams on The Apprentice exposed a complete lack of imagination when it came to marketing. For ages I wondered who could possibly create all those thousands of poorly conceived, terribly executed late night commercials, and now I know: Wannabe reality stars! So congratulations, Apprentice. We now finally have the first primetime show to prominently feature gay veggie porn and a man running around with smeared white cream all over his face. If that’s not captivating, I don’t know what is.Of course, at the outset of the episode, there was no indication that things would be heading into pornville. We started with our usual prognostication of who would be fired. Erin convinced herself that belligerent teammate Michael would lose his exemption, but ScarfFace Angie had the smarter, more obvious insight: Team Magna is full of idiots. Who would take an exempt person into the boardroom? Such tomfoolery is deserving of a neck scarf strangulation.
Stephanie and Michael returned to the loft and almost immediately, Bren began lecturing his formerly exempt teammate. Listening to this guy berate, it doesn’t surprise me at all to find out he’s a district attorney from the South. I’m only surprised he didn’t come from the 1920s. He looked about one bead of sweat away from the cast of O Brother, Where Art Thou? Nevertheless, a repentant Michael Tarshi apologized to his team and receded into the shadows with his tail between his legs. If you prick a Tarshi, does it not bleed??
The next morning, Rhona called bright and early. Clearly rejuvenated by the bottle of Trump Ice by her side (pause as I hold up a bottle and smile at the camera), Rhona alerted a bedraggled and haggardly Tana to round up the troops and stand by the suite’s plasma TV. We knew it was American Idol season because she ended the call by shouting “Rhona out!”
With everyone showered and dressed, the teams congregated in front of the television where Trump appeared with a message. “I’m heading over to my helicopter,” he informed them, adding “I have a busy afternoon of pretending to be somewhere.” Nevertheless, The Donald announced that he had a “Uge” project for the candidates. “Dove. Cool. Moisture,” he said, giving each word a careful, Wheel-Of-Fortune-esque emphasis. Apparently Donnie Deutsch (or Donnie Douche, as I like to call him) would be returning to judge marketing campaigns for the skin care line. But here’s the catch: teams would each have to make a 30 second short film. Studio space, talent, equipment, and craft service would all be taken care of. Basically, the only thing teams needed to do was come up with an idea and shoot it. The project seemed like a fun one, and even Angie smiled, despite apparently being tied to the wall with her neck scarf.
Erin, who’s looking increasingly like the girl from The Grudge, volunteered to be project manager of Magna while Kristen, who’s looking increasingly like the girl from the Ladies Rogaine commercial (before, not after), became PM of Net Worth. In Adams Family terms, it was sort of like the battle of Cousin It versus Uncle Fester.
She carries a grudge… and a mean set of Uggz
I’m still a little fuzzy as to why Erin clamored for the leadership position, but Kristen boasted that her boyfriend was a director, and therefore, by osmosis, she was most qualified for this task. Of course, having a boyfriend as a director might only help if the guy had any sort of talent, but after having judged his untitled opus (which I’ll name “Dumb Woman Can’t Act”), I think it was clear that Kristen would not be bringing anything to the table beyond a vague notion of what a camera looks like.
Over at Team Magna, the college kids had a difficult time conjuring up an appropriate marketing campaign for Dove. Well, we know how that old saying goes: when all else fails, give a woman a cucumber and let the guys go off for butt sex. You never heard that? Huh. Well, Bren came up with the brilliant idea of staging the very un-Dove-like story of a woman suggestively rubbing a cucumber for a male chef… who would then walk away with a hunky waiter. Um, so the message is “Ladies, if you use Dove, you’ll make men gay”? Sounds like a kind of drastic rebranding.
Amazingly, the entire team was pro-phallus, and Bren’s softcore idea suddenly graduated from afternoon fantasy to future marketing disaster. Michael, eager to win back the favor of his teammates, offered up one of the best pep-talk lines in reality history when he boldly urged “Let’s make this vegetable porno the best vegetable porno we can possibly make — with a gay twist!” RAAAAHHH!!!! Oddly enough, a stadium full of people started chanting “Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Gay twist! Ru-dy!”
Over at Net Worth, Kristen reminded everyone once again that her boyfriend is a director. We’ve yet to see a list of credits for this mysterious Spielberg in the making, but that might have to do more with the IMDb not accepting titles such as “Me and Kristen Doing It In The Kitchen.” John, who’s quickly becoming the superstar of Net Worth, came up with a fairly entertaining idea for the short film: A guy running a marathon takes a cup of water from a bystander and splashes it on his face. Then someone throws him the Dove lotion, and then more water, and then a towel, and by the time he reaches the finish line, he looks fresh and rejuvenated. It’s not an award winning pitch, but considering some of the other past Big Ideas to come from Apprentice candidates (Crustacean Nation, the Pepsi globe bottle, capelets), it wasn’t half bad. Still, the lack of a cucumber and a gay subtext had me concerned.
Over at Magna, casting for the Cinemax pilot presentation was in full swing as Erin perused an assortment of headshots. Upon finding a particularly hunky specimen, Erin devolved into a horny mess. “Whoa, look at those aaaaabs!” she exclaimed, adding: “Hold back my bangs so I can see better!” Later Erin outlined a plan to wrap the model up in her flowing locks, ensnaring him in a mangy cocoon of hair. “He will be my papoose, and I will be his Earth Mother,” she then declared, tenting her fingers purposefully.
After a careful (READ: shoddy) screening process, Erin hired a sickly actor, a nondescript actress, and said Abs-of-Steel model who, if memory serves me, was most recently seen on Average Joe: Hawaii.
Nevertheless, the talent (if they can be called that. Maybe “carbon life forms” would be more appropriate) arrived at 4 pm, two full hours prior to Magna’s arrival. The actors seemed bored, and the one frail guy appeared to be losing a battle with tuberculosis, but as struggling actors in New York City will tell you, a gig is a gig. As long as there’s moolah at the end of the day, it’s all gravy dude.
WELL, not for Bitchy McDivaFart. This actress did NOT like having the wrong call time. She waited two hours — TWO HOURS — for Erin to show. That’s 120 minutes she could have spent not making money on a national TV show. To think, this poor, unknown actress had to sit around without direction while Oprah was on. That’s abuse! Meanwhile, across America, viewers pondered “Is this woman even famous?” Hmmm… last time I checked, this bland, sure-to-have-a-short-career actress was not, in fact, Nicole Kidman. So why was she having a tantrum? Um… because she’s an idiot? Yeah, that seems to work.
Anyway, the finicky actress finally proved her worth as a reality star by making an empty threat for the sole purpose of attracting attention. “I’m 90% sure I’m leaving,” she warned everyone. And I’m 90% sure you’re an absolute moron (10% of me thinks she’s just a performance artist. Actually, that would make her 100% moron. Zinger!) I liked how this woman thought she had any leverage on Magna. But then again, if they had to replace her at the last minute, that could be a problem. After all, it’s not like NYC is known for its teeming masses of unemployed actresses trying to make it big on Broadway – whatever that is.
Well, it was clear that “90%” comment really meant “I’m saying I’m gonna leave, but I’ll leave the door open for some ass kissing.” Enter Bren, Southern ass-kisser extraordinaire. The gentleman took one for the team as he swallowed his pride and apologized greatly to the actress. Suddenly Raquel Belch melted and became 100% sure that she’d stay for the whole shoot. Yay shallow actresses!
After the commercial break, Trump appeared to give his standard business lesson. “Never settle,” he commanded. The Donald launched into an attack on mediocrity which was illustrated by… a backhoe clawing at an overhang? Huh. That doesn’t really make any sense. I half expected Trump to yell, “Now that’s a backhoe! No mediocrity there!” A mediocre backhoe then wheeled away, sadly muttering “He used to love me most.”
Speaking of mediocre, Net Worth was in mid-meltdown. Kristen made the bonehead decision to send John off to compose music with Craig — aka the black guy who never says anything — which meant the guy who created the entire concept of the commercial wasn’t even around to assist the execution. Tana meanwhile tended to the models, which meant she could say “All righty!” and “You have a good day now!” a few more times.
As a director, Kristen was pretty much as useless as a toddler with a Handicam. She had an obligatory Orson Welles moment as she demanded more sweat, dammit! GIVE ME SWEATY OR GIVE ME DEATH! Mini drama ensued as Tana feared the actors’ makeup would run. Just spray, goddammit!!! bellowed Kristen.
And now a TVgasm production tip: to make an actor look like he’s sweaty without having to re-apply water every ten seconds, cover his face with a thin layer of vaseline first. The water beads and the makeup doesn’t run. Amazing!
Unhappy with her team’s commercial was Angie, who was just about ready to throw in the towel, er, neck scarf. We’re supposed to be thinking outside the box, she complained, finally concluding “This is the box!” Insert vagina joke here.
Over at Magna, Erin decided to give Average Joe dude a sponge bath. She later admitted that the scene would never make it to the commercial, but that didn’t stop her from nearly drooling all over the stud, occasionally adding “Mama like! Mama like!” Later, Carolyn stopped by to oversee the all important cucumber scene. Needless to say, she did her patented eye-bulging routine. You know the one I’m talking about: the look that says “I’m shocked at your stupidity, offended by your immaturity, and disgusted by your performance… but I’ll just stand over here quietly.”
The next day, teams tackled the arduous task of post-production. Jonathan made the shocking discovery that Kristen had completely sapped all the humor from his idea by dropping the campy approach and going for a literal “Body Wash makes you run marathons better” message. “I wasn’t going for funny,” Kristen snipped, adding “I was going for more of a Chariots of Fire meets Pulp Fiction thing.” Huh? How could she NOT go for funny? Oh, that’s right. She’s an IDIOT.
We then cut away briefly to watch The Donald step out of a limo and into a helicopter. Well, it only took a day and a half to get there, but hey, better late than never. Back at Donnie Deusch’s boardroom (he SO wants to be Donald), Erin and her team presented first. In a move that reeked of corporate creativity, she had everyone dress like chefs, despite the costume having no bearing on the Dove body wash itself. Donnie immediately chastened the team and told them to take off the goofy chef hats.
And so here it was. The moment of truth. How would this cucumber commercial turn out? Eh, not so well. In fact, it didn’t even make any sense. The bum outside my office weaves more intelligible narratives (Yesterday, he had this great story about a bitch who wouldn’t stop right there, even after he alerted her that hey, HEY! he was talking to her. In the end, he announced that he needed to get some pebbles and wanted to know what the hell I was looking at). Nevertheless, between the cheap sets, the low-budget music, the crappy camera work, and the cheesy editing, the spot achieved the lofty goal of making Debbie Does Dallas look Oscar worthy.
Up next was Net Worth, featuring Kristen and her puffy, white hat. Donnie immediately began lecturing the team by saying “You know, Kristen, I told you guys to stop wearing goofy hats. Oh wait, that’s not a joke, is it? This is awkward.”
Mama Mia! It’s Chef Boyardee! Oh, wait. Just Kristen…
Anyway, Kristen’s commercial debuted to underwhelming results. Taking a cue from Homer Simpson and his penchant for star wipes, Net Worth’s spot was riddled with flashy transitions and visual effects. Just about the only thing missing was that effect where a cityscape zooms towards you and the next shot begins in the window of a skyscraper. Curiously enough, when the marathon runner applied the Dove body wash to his face (body wash on the face? Eh, that’s just semantics!), we suddenly saw quick cuts of a sunflower, a cucumber, and a teapot boiling. Huh? Was this some auteur view inside the tortured psyche of the runner? Better yet was that after he smeared the gunk all over his face, the runner just sprinted to the finish line without washing it off. I suppose it was semen chic.
Later, Donnie consulted his two top executives. A woman whose name I’ve forgotten (I’ll just call her Schnozz for the giant beak on her face) questioned Magna’s approach. A man walks off with another man and leaves a woman with a cucumber? “I don’t want that product, and I don’t want my husband to have it either,” she asserted, adding “He’s swishy enough as it is. Let’s not give him any ideas.”
In the end, both teams sucked so badly that no winner was chosen. Wah wah wah. Back at the loft, Erin explained “We were like zombies: so disappointed.” Is that a thing with zombies? They get disappointed? “Look at me. Eating brains. Is this what I’ve resorted to? Mother would be upset.”
Similarly crestfallen was Kristen who crawled into bed and tried to forget it all. “I’m not used to hearing the words ‘loser’ and ‘suck’ come out of people’s mouths about me,” she said, “Unless, of course, it’s a command.” Alex meanwhile sat dejectedly on the couch, his hands firmly placed deep in his pockets. Looks like somebody’s still dreaming about that cucumber…
The next day, everyone got all spiffed up for the first ever joint boardroom. Silent Craig even removed his braids and puffed out his Donovan McNabb fro for the occasion. Tana meanwhile played solitaire on the computer, even when Kristen was babbling to her about Audrey, who she apparently hates. Tana simply nodded her head politely, although it was clear here eyes were on the prize: that glorious moment when the solitaire cards cascade off the screen in victory. Tana LIVES for that.
In the boardroom, Trump finally got to see the notorious spots, and needless to say, he was angry. Carolyn, confused by Net Worth’s approach, asked why they would show a guy use body wash without water. Kristen made up some lame excuse about not having time, but then eventually admitted the real reason: “We didn’t exactly know how to use the product. At first we thought it was cheese spread. Craig’s still feeling a little woozy…” Then she turned to Craig and said: “Sorry for forcing that down your throat.” To which Craig simply gave the thumbs up signal.
Perhaps feeling a bit bored, troublemaker George decided to call on Chris to get his opinion on things. I don’t get this guy. He’s silent all episode, and then in the boardroom he explodes into a hellfire of anger. Where does he come from? True to form, Chris erupted with rage, attacking Magna for using unnecessary gay images. He then accused them of worshiping Say-Tan and yelled “Can you hear me Jesus? I say, can you HEAR me Jesus!!!”
Actually, that didn’t happen, but Trump did ask “Are you not a homosexual?” To which Chris responded/bellowed “SIR, I AM NOT A HOMOSEXUAL!” Chris then followed up by shouting, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M YELLING ABOUT!” Seriously, what is going on in this boardroom?
Asked to respond to Chris’s allegations, Erin shunned the logical “His points about homosexuality are irrelevant” in favor of a Jeff Zucker friendly approach: “Who watches Will & Grace, a show about GAY men? WOMEN!” Are they seriously having this debate? And which women buy products targeted for gay men? Oh never mind…
Ultimately, Trump came down harshly on Kristen for not keeping her team together. After all, he noted, Magna had to deal with Michael who’s a schmuck. At this point, Michael put his hands up in the air as if to say “Guilty as charged!” Magna burst into laughter and I’m surprised they all didn’t laugh “He IS an asshole. But we love each other. (Please don’t fire us).” They had nothing to fear though as Kristen eventually got the ax. Back to the Surreal Life for you, Chyna.
It should be noted that after this entire fiasco, Dove premiered its very own commercial which was bookended with glowing words from Donald and Carolyn. The spot itself wasn’t anything better than anything the Apprentice people did, just a little glossier. I mean, it had Miss Piggy in it for crying out loud. Afterwards, Trump praised the ad by saying “Now that’s a great commercial!” Of course, he was simply referring to his own program.
What did you think of the commercials?