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Well, we’re down to the final two. After months of spats and firings and stripteases, Donald Trump & Co. have whittled down the group of prospective Apprentice winners to two candidates: Kelly and Jenn. This was only a semi surprise since Kelly’s been the odds on favorite to win since mid October (I pulled that timeframe out of my ass, by the way). As for Jenn? Well… she’s pretty. Okay, to Jenn’s credit, she has a very accomplished resume and an excellent education, but I mean really. She’s going up against Kelly. The Kellster. Kellyrama. There’s no way she can beat that juggernaut. The only way she could possibly sabotage Kelly would be if she had someone call the loft phone every five minutes. He’d drop anything to pick up that phone, even the final challenge. Commence finger tenting… right…. now.We should have known Jenn was headed for big things at the outset of the episode as she and Sandy prepared some meal. The two of them were positively giddy, especially when Sandy suggested pulling a menu off the internet. “YEAH!!!” chirped Jenn, who acted as if she had just been invited to be the CEO of Candyland.
Unfortunately, she must have pulled a crappy menu off of FoodTV.com because the mood was considerably more somber after the meal. Sandy and Kelly badmouthed Jenn in the living room, but either they were using their outdoor voices or Jenn has super hero hearing because our flaxen lawyer inserted herself into the conversation with one of my favorite reality lines: “I can hear what you’re saying.” That was too bad. Jenn being in the Jenn-bashing conversation really made it hard to continue with the Jenn-bashing.
Since the awkward confrontation apparently didn’t lead anywhere, the producers were left with nothing else to do but cut to the moon. And when the moon refused to get into an argument with Jenn, the producers cut to a floor buffer and an escalator repairman. Just when the B-Roll threatened to head into an even more mundane task (I feared we’d be getting a direct feed from a mattress warehouse next), we returned to the loft where Kelly answered Rhona’s morning call AGAIN (note my weak joke in the opening paragraph). Coming in second place was Kevin who awkwardly stood behind Kelly before slowly ambling off into the recesses of the apartment.
The group all travelled up to The Donald’s corner office where they put on their best informercial smiles. As Trump extolled the virtues of a corner office, Kelly nodded his head as if to say “Why yes, I DO need a better omelette pan!” With his supplicants eagerly slurping up any pearls of wisdom he may have, Donald continued to babble about wealth and power and yada yada yada. “If you do well in life,” he started one line. Are they not doing well? Does this mean that after Wharton and Law School Kevin’s going to wind up at a shelter?
Speaking of Kevin, did anyone else have the uncontrollable desire to lend him a handkerchief? Not because he was sweating. But because he had some dollop of something at the corner of his mouth. To the naked eye, it appeared to be the cream cheese relic of a too-hastily consumed bagel, but we’ll also accept rogue bead of sweat or errant glitter.
Around this time, a small critter which NBC labeled the “Trump Bobblehead” appeared at the bottom of the screen, and for the thirty or sixty seconds that it stayed there, I was completely transfixed by its bobbling head. In fact, I know CNBC is really struggling. I say just throw the Trump Bobblehead on there for about 18 hours a day. I know I’d watch. They can even put him behind a desk to make it look like a talk show. I’d be fine with that.
After the bobblehead disappeared, we learned that the final four would be interviewed by four CEOs or Presidents: Alan Jope (Unilever), Dawn Hudson (Pepsi), Ace Greenberg (Bear Sterns), and Bob Kraft (New England Patriots). Then, all four executives would report back to Trump. Suddenly those informercial faces were gone. It was like the studio audience just saw Ron Popeil get impaled on his Showtime Rotisserie — Just Set It and Forget It!
I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the interviews except that Ace Greenberg seemed really tough. Honestly, this was the hardest challenge yet. Heck, even I was stressed after the interviews were over.
Eventually, the executives all made their way back to Trump’s boardroom where Bob Kraft was fired. Oh no, wait. I meant he was asked about the candidates. Kelly of course received high grades. Everyone else? Ehh… not so much. Kevin — well educated, but has he been avoiding the real world? Jenn — does she have the grit to take on Trump? Sandy — did you see the smackdown she had on Andy two weeks ago?
As Trump and executives gabbed about the kids, the group packed up and headed down to the boardroom. NBC cut back and forth between the meeting and the encroaching applicants, and with the music building, it was as if they wanted us to think the candidates would come bursting into the boardroom and gun down everyone inside. Frankly, I’m surprised Robin didn’t press some Code Red button to alert everyone to flee the boardroom at once and find safe haven in Denise Rich’s Hampton estate.
Eventually the executives were done with their evaluations, and as they headed out, Bob Kraft turned back and gave a little thumbs up to Trump, almost as if to say “Did you see Dawn Hudson from Pepsi? I think she likes me!”
Next up in the boardroom were Kelly, Sandy, Jenn and Kevin. Trump lavished praise on Kelly, but then came down harshly on my man Kevin. While he praised Kevin’s education (“He’s the most educated person I’ve ever seen,” he declared, making me wonder if Trump has ever mingled with doctors before), he ultimately had reservations about his real world experience. The most exciting part about all this was not hearing Kevin’s answers, but watching the sweat slowly creep to the surface. Would this be a Levi’s Jeans torrential downpour, or maybe just a gentle slick? Well, before the perspiration could become too glaringly apparently, Trump fired him, but not without praising him out of the room. Later, Kevin took the confessional cab home, and while I’m sure what he said was very nice, I was distracted by his giant trench coat which seemed ready to swallow him whole.
And that concluded the civilized portion of the program.
Up next: Jenn versus Sandy, round two. Some of you may remember the first time these two got into it in the boardroom (it was all of two weeks ago). Sandy won the first time around with her attack dog approach that seemed to come out of left field. This time around, Jenn was prepared as she summarily whooped Sandy’s ass. As Jenn was fond of saying, she had the intellectual horsepower and man did she prove it. Jenn stunned Sandy into silence as she rattled off stats and bona fide arguments as to why she should be hired. That’s not to say Jenn was immune from a little smackdown herself. When she started to answer a question directed towards Kelly, the military man responded “He said Kelly, not Jenn.” This led Trump to stop everything and say “Kelly’s pretty tough.” Trump then said “Say that again Kelly; that was awesome. Now again. Keep saying it over and over. Yeah, that’s the stuff.”
Meanwhile, the girls continued to go at it. “I don’t want to insult you,” said Jenn as she proceeded to insult Sandy by inferring that she was stupid. Unfortunately, Sandy had not much to say except that starting her business was a very risky move. Hey, you want to talk about risk? “I moved across the country to San Francisco,” countered Jenn. Is that really risky? I mean, did she take a covered wagon or something? Did a member of her party get bitten by a snake and then contract dysentery? Did she try to ford a river instead of taking the Indian ferry? Wow, that IS risky!
Eventually Sandy was outclassed by Jenn when it mattered most, and The Donald had to let her loose. She had a good run. I must admit, at first I was not that impressed with Sandy, but as time went on, I grew to like her a lot. That’s all I had to say. Nothing snarky.
Later on in the apartment with the two finalists set, Kelly summed up his competition succinctly: “Jenn sucks.” Well that wasn’t very nice. Jenn didn’t have anything pleasant to say about Kelly either, but her wording was long and forgettable (READ: I forgot to write it down), so I shan’t reprint it. After a tense evening of sizing each other up, the two finally went to sleep, and we were afforded the luxury of seeing Kelly in the near-buff lying out on his bed. Well that was savory.
The next day, Jenn and Kelly headed back down to the boardroom where the normally mousy Robin greeted them with a chipper “Hi!” I don’t know what caused the perkiness, but I suspect she was about to sell chocolates for her church. Anyway, Jenn and Kelly met with Trump again and learned their final tasks. Jenn was to coordinate a charity basketball game while Kelly would organize a charity polo match. Both events would be sponsored by up and coming firm Genworth.
Trump then introduced the former candidates who would serve as peons to the final two: Chris, Pam, Stacy, John, Elizabeth, and Raj. I wouldn’t call them the most talented applicant pool, but at least they’re… uh… not murderers?
Kelly picked a team of John, Elizabeth, and Raj and then headed up to Greenwich, CT to tackle the polo fields. His dedication to his workforce was fairly impressive as he said “Love you guys” while handing over his phone number. Unfortunately, Kelly then spent the next half an hour doodling “Kelly Loves His Team” with various hearts and stars.
Upon arrival in Connecticut, Elizabeth shook Kelly’s hand and relayed her excitement about finally working for him. “I sensed some respect from Elizabeth,” Kelly said. Uh, well she just shook your hand and basically kissed your ass. Kelly then noted that he sensed she was a woman and that she was of the humanoid species.
After delegating duties to everyone, Kelly then sat with his laptop and made a spreadsheet for seemingly every little task. Want to order lunch? Kelly’s got a spreadsheet. Want to go to the bathroom? Kelly’s got a spreadsheet. Want to make a spreadsheet? Kelly’s got a spreadsheet about that too. Unfortunately, while Kelly made sweet love to his spreadsheets, his staff decided to race across the polo field. We never got to see who won, but I’m going to put my money on John. It was nice that they had such beautiful weather to run around in because the next day the rain poured down (which was not very convenient when it came time to painting Genworth’s corporate logo on the field). Unconvinced by the falling water from the sky, Kelly asked his group “Is that actual rain noise?” No Kelly. It’s a bassoon quartet.
Meanwhile, Jenn’s dysfunctional team of Pamela, Chris and Stacy reeked of basketball. The four of them were so street, we just knew they’d be able to pull of this challenge. As Pamela waltzed by the court in her satin napkin of a blouse, I think we all thought the same thing: future Lakers Girl! The good news for Jenn was that basketball star Chris Webber was slated to emcee the event, and as we learned from Kwame’s dealings with Jessica Simpson, celebrities NEVER cause headaches! More on that later…
For now, the biggest headache for Jenn’s team was a lack of a dolly. An amusing montage featured Chris cramming dozens of boxes into an elevator with about all the finesse of Anna Nicole Smith performing brain surgery. Needless to say, many of the boxes did not survive the ride. The most entertaining part of all this however was George who appeared out of nowhere to ask “You schlepping?” Man, this guy knows how to deliver his Yiddish! Oh, and by the way, Chris informed us that he was in fact schlepping.
Jenn meanwhile met with the foxy ladies of Genworth who were less than impressed with just about everything. Yes, those two hot tamales were not going to have their name besmirched by a poorly run basketball tournament. I mean, they might as well have their brand flashed all over a reality show or something. Oh wait…
Eventually disaster finally hit Jenn. With only a few hours to go before the tournament kicked off, Jenn learned that Chris Webber would be bailing on his emceeing duties. By George! Chris Webber, the temperamental basketball diva actually backed out of an engagement?!?! Well, I would never have seen that coming! Pamela meanwhile still had no idea who he even was. When she asked Chris for a description, he replied “Tall black guy.” Believe it or not, this really helped a lot since Pamela had been visualizing a short white girl. Pamela then turned to Stacy and said “So you’re not Chris Webber are you?” To which Stacy said “No.”
The episode ended with a lovely dual cliffhanger: would the polo fields be dry enough for Kelly’s match? Would Jenn be able to harangue Chris Webber into keeping his obligation? Would we ever be able to erase the image of Trump running with the Olympic torch? We’ll find out next week with the three hour (gulp) finale.