Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

celebrity apprentice recap Archive

Wednesday

11

February 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 7

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Trump did an online Q&A last week that explained the mass exodus of Team Infinity despite their five task winning streak. The motive was obvious. Scheduling. Does this change anything?

Not really. The whole thing was poorly handled. Trump could have fired two of them and brought back the other as part of the final four and still had his Geraldo/Leeza final. Vivica never had a chance.

I’m actually at Universal Studios as I write this, which makes the final task quite bizarre for me. Universal has hosted two infamous tasks. Rod Blagojevich had his communication blunders with the opening of Harry Potter World back in season three and Dee Snider commissioned the redundant cardboard cut outs during All-Stars.

This task seems a little less chaotic, though with some (expected) laziness from Johnny Damon and Brandi Glanville. If anything, their beer drinking, roller coasting riding antics showed the precise reason why they’re not in the finals. I don’t think I’d be too surprised if either one had done that if they’d made it to the end.

The teams for the final task are always awkward. It’s not really a team anymore. It’s a dictatorship. That’s why Lorenzo getting all pissed off about Geraldo changing everything doesn’t make sense. Lorenzo is there to help. That’s it.

We saw Debbie Gibson pull a similar, albeit more extreme stunt, when she wanted Clay Aiken to trust her cousin’s mural painting abilities. It’s not surprising that these D-list celebrities have big egos, but this one of the few times where it’s not exactly justifiable.

Who’s going to win the task and become the next Celebrity Apprentice? Geraldo. He’s got the money and Josh Grobin, who’s significantly more relevant than Olivia Newton John. Leeza might be able to beat his video, but probably not by a wide enough margin for it to matter.

I think Trump likes Leeza better, but the problem is that he doesn’t dislike Geraldo. The past two finals have been largely decided by Trump’s nepotism. Arensio Hall beat Clay Aiken because he was trying to get a new late night show and Trace Adkins beat Penn Jilette because Penn badmouthed Trump in his book (a good book by the way). If it was Leeza vs. basically any other contestant, this would be a no brainer.

The pre-show montages were kind of nice. I would have preferred more episode to them, especially given my embarrassingly thorough knowledge of the show (almost all my throwbacks are from memory, though I usually fact check them to be sure). The problem with the montages was that they reminded us that this season has been rather brief.

Is this a good thing? Maybe. I’m annoyed that they’ve burned through the episodes, but I’m not exactly sad we weren’t treated to more Kenya Moore. #BabiesLuvBuns was enough. Kevin Jonas’ reappearance doesn’t exactly make me wish he’d lasted longer either.

Between Kenya/Brandi, Kenya/Vivica, and the Geraldo/Ian/Kevin/Lorezo battle that never really was, there was plenty of potential for a great season. We didn’t really see any of those evolve into a Piers/Omarosa or a Joan/Annie. Which is a shame, but maybe that’s why they edited the episodes the way they did. It’s not like NBC has much else on the air.

So I’m calling it for Geraldo. Some big screw-up could change everything. Leeza isn’t fierce enough a competitor to stop him. She reminds me of Arsenio, who also coasted his way to the finals. Problem is, Geraldo is no Clay Aiken.

 

 

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Tuesday

3

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

27

January 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 5

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Trump has done something unusual for two weeks now. He’s used the phrase “a lot of money” to refer to the amount that the winning Project Manager gets for his or her charity. He’s never done this before, leading one to think he’s hiding the dollar amount because it’s less impressive than previous years. The fact that NBC has basically cut this season in half seems to back this notion. $20,000 is typically the standard amount for a non-fundraising task plus occasionally the sponsor throws in more money.

The problem is that if he’s hiding the money amount because it’s lower, then the $25,000 gift to Sig Hansen doesn’t make much sense, as it would be higher than the winning amount. I’ve seen reports that Brandi got $50,000, but have been unable to verify them. Trump withheld the money again with the task that he personally sponsored, making this all the more confusing.

Despite Trump’s insistence that a boat task would cater to Sig Hansen, I’d argue that his team was at a disadvantage from the start. This wasn’t a “boat task.” It was a “party task.” Team Infinity had a certain player that plenty of people want to party with.

Johnny Damon.

Who wouldn’t want to dance on a boat with a World Series champion New York Yankee (putting aside my Red Sox fan bias for a second)? Sig knows boats. He doesn’t know parties.

Geraldo supplied the line of the night with “screw the terrorists.” It’s hard to argue with that notion. But it was supposed to be a party and having a Fox News reporter deliver a “fair and balanced” tour isn’t exactly as fun as dancing with Johnny Damon. At the very least, they could’ve incorporated taking shots into the “screw terrorism” theme. Apparently having Hooters was enough.

So they lost even though the other team didn’t really have a theme. Which was still better than Mardi Gras. They didn’t need a theme. All they needed was music and Johnny Damon and for Kenya not to screw things up with that horrid song.

Sig loses. Sig goes home. Another downside of the compacted episodes is that we don’t really get to know everyone. Sig is usually the least interesting person in the room, unless Eric Trump is there. His team missed him. Geraldo gave him money. Despite his temper tantrum, he seems like a nice guy. Right from the start, he had about a 0% chance of winning. Fishermen don’t win Celebrity Apprentice.

The second task was just okay. I’m not a big fan of the Trump centric tasks, even though I would win them all if I were on the show. Winning them is easy. Suck up to Trump and make it classy. Kate Gosselin failed with the latter.

The class element might have been harder than you’d think. This task pitted the star of a TLC reality show about her excessively large family against the star of Sharknado. Yet Ian pulled it off. Again.

The Kenya/Vivica fight was a little much. Shopping takes awhile. This had always been the case. Kenya wasn’t Project Manager. Her not being at home base when she was on a team with only four people should not have been treated like a snub. But it was.

Kenya did establish herself as a dominant boardroom player, even though it was pretty clear that Kate was a goner. Trump hinted this in the last task when he singled Kate out in his firing of Sig. Kenya makes better television. She fought in the boardroom. Trump rewards people who make his show interesting.

Only three weeks left. Feels odd and a little sad. After waiting a year and half, we’ve been rewarded with condensed episodes so NBC can air boring knockoffs of other network’s hits. What a shame.

I’m going to stick with my final four predictions from last week. Kenya is emerging as an interesting player, but I don’t think she’s a legitimate contender. She’s too hated. Being called the next Omarosa is nice and all, but she was never a legitimate contender either.

The one question that’s surfaced since last night is, can Geraldo win it all after losing so many tasks? He’s three for nine overall. The answer to this is simple.

Yes.

Trace Adkins made it to the finals in season one with an 0-2 record as Project Manager. Winners Bret Michaels and Arsenio Hall had far less impressive track records in their respective seasons than he has. At 2-0, he can survive without even needing to tap into his boardroom abilities.

This was a big win for Ian. He’s 1-1, but his loss came with $300,000 raised for his charity. Brandi, Kenya, Johnny, and Leeza are all 1-0. Whoever wins next week will practically guarantee themselves a spot in the final four.

I feel comfortable calling Geraldo-Ian in the finals. There’s history between the two. Trump isn’t going to put Brandi, Kenya, or Johnny in the finals. They’re not strong enough. Vivica could make it with another win, but it seems unlikely she’ll get that chance. She also suffered her fair share of unfavorable boardrooms.

Leeza could be a sleeper candidate. She needs another win as PM to get there though. If she doesn’t step up, Trump won’t reward her.

Ian and Geraldo hate each other. That above all else is what matters. Unless one of the two screw up, this is the likeliest outcome.

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Tuesday

20

January 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 4

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It looks like two tasks an episode is going to be the standard for this season. For those of us who have waited over a year for Celebrity Apprentice to return, this is kind of a bummer. Not every episode is worthy of two hours and this has often been a problem.

Shawn Johnson’s immediate departure was a complete no brainer ten minutes into the episode. Not stepping up is more often than not a bigger death sentence than being project manager and losing. Jamie Anderson might not have gotten the can if she was a halfway competent boardroom player. Gary Busey survived many boardrooms and only about 80% of that can be credited to being good television.

Her excuse was stupid as well. Who among the contestants was “fit” for a Nordstrom’s task? Vivica A. Fox certainly wasn’t. Kenya looked comfortable as PM, but her qualifications are hardly better than an Olympic gymnast, putting aside the fact that Johnson’s career doesn’t require her to wear shoes. So Johnson’s termination is hardly a surprise to anyone.

Athletes are historically terrible at Celebrity Apprentice. Johnny Damon has a win, but it was against a fellow athlete (Anderson). Furthermore, they’re boring. Jose Canseco was the only one in the history of the show to display true flare, but he had to leave to be with his dying father. Lennox Lewis wasn’t exactly a dynamic player, but his partnership with Piers Morgan made for great TV. No one will miss Shawn. Flying under the radar doesn’t work. Unless you’re Sig Hansen.

Lorenzo Lamas’ firing was tragic because he’d actually blossomed into a decent player. He’s shown ample character for a complete has been and appears to be a good guy. I’m not sure I can completely blame him for the loss either.

This is a downside of not having one task per episode. Under the usual format, we get to see the teams meet with the executives. Which is usually boring, but it would have shown us how risqué the Chock Full of Nuts people wanted their viral videos to be. If I were Lorenzo, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to do something as inappropriate as having two Real Housewives rolls around in bed together.

Which is why Lorenzo probably would have survived. He could’ve served Sig or Kate Gosselin up on a silver platter to Trump. Hansen appears to be a nice guy, but he’s boring and has a limited skill set. He also hasn’t been a project manager. It’s hard to believe Trump would have kept him over the Lamas, who by all indications did a decent job.

This wasn’t a particularly interesting episode, except for Kenya’s quip about Brandi’s marital embarrassments. A quip which will probably cost her in Trump’s eyes down the road. Both boardrooms were fairly obvious right from the get go.

So let’s turn our attention to this question. Who can beat Geraldo Rivera? The man displays a Piers Morgan like dominance over his teammates, but also an Aubrey O’Day desire to control the entire creative process. Being a journalist and not a member of the Pussycat Dolls should help him look more like the former to Trump.

My answer to this question in the beginning was simple. Geraldo’s biggest enemy was himself. Domineering contestants self-destruct. But now Geraldo is dug in. He’s 2-0 and is practically guaranteed to make the final four. Sig needs to be PM, probably next week, before Geraldo is even eligible to do it again. Even then, he can survive a loss if he doesn’t completely implode. I wouldn’t necessarily rule that out either.

Vivica is good. Kenya is good. Ian is good. Kate is probably better than anyone wants to admit, but the fact that no one seems to like her is a huge problem. Brandi will likely face off against Sig in the first task next week if the cards fall the way they’re supposed to.

If I had to make a final four prediction now, I’d say it’s going to be Geraldo, Ian, Vivica, and Leeza based on records and Trump’s nepotism. I wouldn’t necessarily say Leeza is all that deserving, but she’s got a win and Trump likes her more than most of the contenders. Kenya’s battles with Brandi are cute, but Trump isn’t going to reward that sort of behavior with a final four appearance. As we saw with Kevin Jonas, things can change, but I feel comfortable with this prediction.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge Joan Rivers’ final appearance on the show. I wrote a Celebrity Apprentice centered tribute to her shortly after her death that you might find interesting. Rivers saved what was a pretty weak season two cast and had continued to entertain in her appearances as a boardroom advisor. She’ll be missed mostly for her actual comedy work, but also for Celebrity Apprentice, at least in my mind.

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Monday

5

January 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode One

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since Celebrity Apprentice All-Star. Which means it’s been three years since we were introduced to an entirely new cast of D list “celebrities” to participate in Donald Trump’s faux reality competition. With stars like Kevin Jonas, Gilbert Gottfried, Shawn Johnson, and Terrell Owens on board, this season looks to be a strong one for the venerable rigged contest.

First episodes are always more about the contestants than the task itself, which makes fundraising challenges the perfect type to start with. It’s important to note that at no point was pie making a central focus of the task. The money is the only thing that matters.

Over the years, we’ve seen Trump and the show itself try to circumvent the fact that the battle of the rolodex doesn’t exactly make for suspenseful television. The past two seasons have featured project managers Paul Teutul Sr. and Trace Adkins bring in such large donations that they barely cared about the task itself at all.

This is where naivety can really come to bite you in the ass. It was pretty clear about thirty-five minutes into the two hour show that not only would the women lose, but that Keisha Knight Pulliam would be the one to go. What was unusual was how blatant Piers Morgan was in essentially telling her that social media didn’t matter at all. Not very Celebrity Apprentice-like to be upfront about it being all about the big money.

Starting off with a money challenge also shows the audience who the real players are right off the bat. It’s an unwritten rule that the PM has to pull most of the weight in a money challenge since his/her team is the only beneficiary of the money that people are presumably saving for themselves. Lorenzo Lamas isn’t going to hit his mother up for two hundred dollars if it’s going to Geraldo Rivera. Surviving a task like this is all about bringing in enough to not draw attention without wasting any of your own high rollers.

The task was pretty straight forward. No one expected Pulliam to beat Rivera. The boardroom was a little more interesting than expected. The Rivera/Jonas dynamic is one to watch out for, especially when Rivera is no longer PM next week. But there was a ton of potential for a Pulliam battle with Kate Gosselin, who had the weirdest boardroom rants since Lou Ferrigno and his 110%.

Raising chump change on a money task when you’re the project manager gets you fired plain and simple. But Gosselin could have been taken down by a savvy player like Omarosa. Problem was that Pulliam was boring. Gosselin had a chance to sink her own ship, but she’s entertaining and that’s what matters. There’s a reason why the show keeps people like Gary Busey, Dennis Rodman, and Rod Blagojevich around as long as humanly possible. They make for good TV.

It’s hard to see who the real frontrunners will be moving forward. Rivera’s attitude doesn’t seem like it will help him in the long haul. He looks destined for more of a Gene Simmons type tenure. Jonas is the most complete package of any of the contestants. He’s outspoken and has a lot of money. Johnny Damon could be a darkhorse, but the men don’t appear to have a ton of juggernauts on their team. It remains to be seen whether Sig Hansen will resemble Paul Teutul or Jesse James in terms of usefulness.

The women’s team is complicated. With two Real Housewives, two Olympic Gold Medalists, and two has-been TV personalities weighing down the team with contestants who have neither star power nor rich backers, Team Infinity doesn’t look very strong.

I don’t think the money will flow quite like it has without a deep roster of money laden celebrities. But the personalities are certainly there. Gottfried delivered right off the bat, looking like savvier Adam Carolla. Snowboarder Jamie Anderson showed charisma and personality. Even Gosselin was surprisingly likable until she started rambling in the boardroom. It should be a very exciting year for The Celebrity Apprentice.

Recaps will continue every Monday throughout the season. The best way to insure you never miss a post is to subscribe to ianthomasmalone.com or to like my Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

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