Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

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February 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 8

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice, Pop Culture

Last night I picked Geraldo Rivera to become the next Celebrity Apprentice.

I was wrong.

I haven’t spent much time fretting over my inaccurate prediction. My recaps have spelled out many of my thoughts on Leeza’s chances. I never thought she couldn’t win, just that there wasn’t a clear logical reason to pick her over Geraldo. It’s one thing to want her to win over Geraldo (who doesn’t), but to say she was a better player is a bit of a stretch.

Before I go into that, I want to point something out. For the past few weeks I’ve talked about Trump’s love of playing kingmaker. I’d cite this as the only real reason Arsenio Hall beat out Clay Aiken. The trouble was that Geraldo is rooted at Fox News and Leeza didn’t appear to want to make a comeback.

Trump snuck in a potential Today Show’s opportunity for Leeza. While I won’t say that played a “deciding factor,” I will say that if he had ever said that before, I would’ve picked Leeza easily. The Today Show’s ratings are bad enough that this seems like a possible option.

Leeza had one thing going for her over Geraldo. She possessed a far better record. How much does this matter?

Less than you’d think.

If record mattered, Trump wouldn’t have canned all of Infinity in the last task before the finale. It was kind of ironic to see Johnny Damon bring up Leeza’s record repeatedly considering he was also part of the team that won five in a row. Trump was never going to have a finale that included the semi-articulate Damon or a Real Housewife.

Let’s explore the five-task win streak. If you looked at the pieces, you don’t really see this powerhouse that should curb stomp the likes of Geraldo and Lorenzo. That’s not to downplay the legitimacy of their wins. They had the better concept more often that not, especially with the Nordstrom task.

How much was Geraldo to blame for those losses? Nordstrom, not at all. Chock full O’Nuts, meh. They lost that one to a bizarre video featuring fake fighting between Brandi and Kenya. I won’t pin that on anyone, even Leeza as project manager, who mostly deferred to Ian.

Then there’s the booze cruise. This is really the task where Leeza’s prowess proved better than Geraldo, though Hooter’s was more of a downfall than his “screw the terrorists” comment. We’ll give credit where credit is due here.

The Trump National Doral was a disjointed mess as a task. Could have gone either way, at least from what we saw on TV. I wouldn’t say either Leeza or Geraldo factored into the decision.

Which brings us to Babies Luv Buns. Another task where Leeza and Gerlado could have sat out the task completely and made no impact on the outcome. You didn’t need a helicopter to beat Babies Luv Buns.

What’s the point of this? Leeza might have had a better track record than Geraldo, but in that five loss streak, she only truly bested him once and that wasn’t the task she was PM on. Was Leeza a better candidate to become Celebrity Apprentice?

No. Don’t believe me? Find a point in the show where Leeza won it for her team. Difficult, right?

The final task worked in her favor as well, even though it was basically an afterthought. She raised more money in the last task, but the emphasis on collective earnings throughout the show during the finale seemed to indicate that wasn’t much of a deciding factor. Tony Orlando seemed to be better than Olivia Newton John (apparently the Josh Grobin mention in the previous episode was a complete afterthought). Who knows?

So why did she win? Despite my analysis, which picks apart her legitimacy as a candidate, she really wasn’t bad either. The 3-0 record as PM matters. It stands up well against Geraldo, who had a 2-0 record prior to the finale. She played safe. Safe won.

The fact that Geraldo won both Lorenzo and Ian over makes his loss all the more puzzling. He raised more money and wasn’t completely hated like Annie Duke. So why did he lose?

As far as finalists go, Geraldo looked like Piers Morgan and Leeza resembled Arsenio Hall. One was dominant. One was not. I don’t think anyone is going to shed a tear that Leeza won. I’m not, but it was the wrong call. Unless Leeza ends up working for the Today Show. I did probably overestimate how much of a factor Trump’s love of Fox News would play, but the man does love his nepotism.

That’s it for Celebrity Apprentice recaps. Thanks for reading them. I’m going to take a break from recaps until Game of Thrones. My new book, A Trip Down Reality Lane, comes out in a week. I encourage you to check it out (what’s a little shameless self promotion).

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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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