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February 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 6

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Last night’s episode featured quite possibly the two strangest boardrooms in the show’s fourteen season history. First up was the case of the forged menopause tweet that quickly degenerated into a battle between Kenya Moore and Vivica A. Fox to determine who was more ghetto. Couple that with the earlier focus on Shawn Johnson’s period, this season could easily be summed up by its emphasis on the female reproductive system, which Trump seems to love to preside over.

That was quickly trumped (hehe) by the second task, where Trump showed us all, in case we forgot who rules his kangaroo court. Is there anyway we can look at the decision to fire an entire team that won five episodes in a row and not come to the conclusion that this thing is completely rigged? The simple answer is, no.

From a purely competitive standpoint, this makes no sense. That’s never what Celebrity Apprentice has been about. The show is Trump’s circus where if you don’t fight to the death, preferably bringing as much about the inner workings of female private parts into the boardroom as humanly possible, you go home. Ian Ziering deserved the sack, but that left a Real Housewife and Johnny Damon. Which is boring. The solution was simple. Fire them all.

It didn’t matter than Geraldo and Vivica lost week after week. Winning the challenges has always been less important than carnival antics. Performance should not be completely discredited, as we saw with Ian.

I had Ian pegged to be in the finals against Geraldo. I was wrong. Is this surprising? Sort of.

I did also last week say that Leeza was a dark horse who needed another win to become a legitimate contender. That did happen. But more importantly, something else happened.

Ian sunk his own ship with his plagiarized “La Cucaracha.” Let’s get one thing straight. Using the song would not be copyright infringement. It’s a folk song. No one owns it. Apparently that didn’t matter, even with a businessman like Trump in the room (though for all Celebrity Apprentice intents and purposes, he’s the red queen).

The truth is, it didn’t matter. It was stupid. It would’ve lost. Both tasks weren’t even close. That’s why talking about them isn’t interesting. Kenya was sunk with #babiesluvbuns before the menopause and the stolen phone and Ian was sunk for his poor attitude and overall crappy boardroom performance.

The boardroom took a turn when Trump decided that Ian wasn’t enough. The closest thing this mirrored was the Celebrity Apprentice 5 task where Trump wanted Adam Carolla to serve him Michael Andredi on a silver platter. Carolla took the bullet and Trump sent them both packing.

That task was early on in its season. This week was the last one before the final four. Knocking off both Brandi and Johnny doesn’t exactly change as much as you’d think. Trump typically sends two of the final four home anyway in a dated adherence to the show’s original format.

Problem is, it does matter. Trump could’ve fired the whole team by advancing one of them to the final four and sending them packing with Vivica, which is going to happen. This would’ve made the whole thing look less rigged. Why didn’t he? Maybe he doesn’t care.

It’s been a weird season of Celebrity Apprentice. It’s the first season since the original to air the majority of the tasks in one hour blocks, though the first did one a week. This cast hasn’t been all that interesting. Lots of narcissism and plenty of fights, but the competition hasn’t been one for the ages.

Geraldo could have changed this. He looked like the second coming of Piers Morgan (albeit with reversed political views) in the first few tasks. Then he transformed into the reincarnated Aubrey O’Day, who forced her ideas down her teammates’ throats and lost. Rivera will make it to the finals. Will he win?

Seems likely. Leeza Gibbons is the new front-runner. Before you say “oh look Ian was wrong,” consider this. In the show’s condensed format, we haven’t seen a lot of Leeza. She flew under the radar all season. Before this week, there was no reason to suggest she belonged in the finals. Nepotism, yes, but that really only takes you to the final four (now the final three).

I have a feeling this is it for Celebrity Apprentice. The show went off the air for almost two years and when it came back, NBC has burned through the episodes with little fanfare. We’ve been down this road before as NBC cancelled the original version of the show, only to bring it back because its lineup faltered. It seems likely that this could and probably will happen again.

The finals will pit Geraldo against Leeza. No doubt about that. In order to determine who has the upper hand, we can ask a simple question.

Who gains the most from winning?

Trump likes to play king maker. He took all the credit for Piers Morgan’s CNN show (to be fair, he did deserve some of it). He picked Arsenio Hall over Clay Aiken because he knew Hall’s increased exposure would lead to a new late night show which he could also take credit for.

Geraldo and Leeza are both old and established. Leeza has a radio show. Geraldo works for Fox News. Trump can’t really take any credit for Geraldo’s future fortunes. If Leeza says the words, “I want another TV show,” the crown is hers.

If that doesn’t happen, it’s still probably hers to lose. Geraldo will probably go for broke on fundraising and do something bold for the finals. That could win it for him if he fights hard enough. It should be an exciting finale.

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Tuesday

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January 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 3

Written by , Posted in Celebrity Apprentice, Pop Culture

Before we tackle part one of this episode, which once again featured two tasks, I thought I would clarify that Trump was wrong in saying that allowing the Project Managers to keep their own money had “never been done before.” This was also done in the fifth task of season 3, which featured John Rich against Marlee Matlin, arguably the two most impressive fundraisers in the show’s history. More on that later.

I tweeted last night that Jamie Anderson might be the worst player in Celebrity Apprentice history and having slept on that, I still find that to be the case. Comic relief contestants like Gary Busey, Rod Blagojevich, and Dennis Rodman all drew the ire of their teams time and time again, but that was the singular least impressive Boardroom showing in Celeb Apprentice history, potentially of all time. You’d have to go back all the way to season one, where Omarosa knocked off a few of the women to find comparable instances.

Jamie made three horrendous mistakes. She admitted early on that she was bullied into the concept that she didn’t quite believe in. More importantly, she didn’t set anyone up to take the fall. This was problem one.

Problem two was that she was completely indecisive in the boardroom. Her team was chaotic in deciding who to set up for the fall. Kate, Brandi, and Kenya were all targets. Jamie could have made a case to plea for any of their firings and probably could have knocked off Kate or Brandi. Kenya would have been tough considering she’s the only competent player of these four.

Had Jamie picked a target, maybe she could have survived. She could have even defended bringing Kate and Kenya back as Kenya was responsible for the loss and Kate is disliked. But then she admitted she made a mistake. Then she tried to see if Trump would bring Brandi back. It was over for her before that, but this was just embarrassing. LaToya Jackson made a similar mistake during All-Stars in not bringing back Omarosa, but at least she put up a fight.

Jamie? No, there was no fight here. After years of this show, it’s clear that certain contestants come into the game knowing how it’s played. Jamie wasn’t one of them. She made nearly every basic mistake in the book and this was no surprise.

Let’s go back to the money predicament. Geraldo and Ian collectively raised close to $600,000, a figure that Trump later raised to that exact sum. Jon Rich and Marlee Matlin back in Celeb Apprentice 3 raised over $1,600,000. Big difference, right?

It can be easy to forget that the whole “winning team gets all the money” is highly problematic when you’re hitting your big donors up. Especially when you’re a D list celebrity like Ian Ziering, who probably doesn’t have many rich friends. His charity, The EB Medical Research Foundation, needs that money. The person who gave the $165,000 check probably had ties to that cause. It would have been pretty awkward had the money gone to Geraldo.

We saw this in Celeb Apprentice 5, where Patricia Velasquez lost her $126,962 to Paul Teutul Sr. In that season’s finale, she tried to explain to Trump that a school couldn’t be built because her donors spent their money only to see it go to a different charity. That was awkward for many reasons and the truth of the matter is, these are the rules.

But the way they framed the narrative with Ian’s emotional plea would’ve made it difficult to see his money go to Geraldo. While Trump (as usual) exaggerated the significance of his decision to allow them to keep their money, it was the right call. This show is mostly about entertainment, but it’s nice to see them act like human beings every once in awhile.

Fundraising tasks aren’t very interesting. It’s fun to watch the people who barely raise any money look awkward, unless it’s Ian trying to get Terrell Owens to do something. Despite making close to $70 million in the NFL not counting endorsements, Owens is broke. It’s no surprise he has no rich friends.

The show usually adds some sort of contest element to the task to get the participants to actually care about their product to raise some extra cash. That’s rarely a difference maker. Ironically, it would have been the case here. I’m not really sure if there was a single element to this task besides selling, which is unusual.

It’s rare that the two weakest players in the game get fired consecutively. Trump made the right calls. Athletes have rarely made for interesting contestants on this show. Damon is just as boring, though not entirely incompetent. He made for a decent PM, albeit one steamrolled by Geraldo.

If I had to pick the final four now, I’d go with Geraldo, Ian, Kenya, and Leeza, though I fully expect at least two of them to screw things up for themselves. Leeza is a dark horse, but one that Trump likes. Sig Hansen looks to have most of Paul Teutul’s negative traits in that he’s quiet and awkward, but also doesn’t have the large Rolodex. He could be a dark horse, Jesse James type sleeper candidate, but that’s also because there are far worse contestants still on the show.

Brandi’s meltdowns resemble NeNe Leakes’ too much for me to care. Leakes quit. I imagine Brandi might as well. This is a weird season without any overly dominant players aside from Geraldo, who’s too bold for his own good. But we get to see Joan Rivers next week! I miss her.

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