Celebrity Apprentice

Celebrity Apprentice (from Feb 21)

Previously on Celebrity Apprentice: Trump shuffled the teams. Omarosa continued to be the worst person in the world. And, since fantastically wealthy people shouldn’t have to make hard decisions, Trump fired nobody at all. And Piers Morgan could almost hardly eat his pineapple.

Hydra celebrates their victory with champagne. All except for Piers, who really looks beat down. Omarosa manages to be the millionth person in history to quote Sally Field, explaining that Trump “really, really likes” her. Does she realize that her team won? It seems like she’s genuinely touched because Trump didn’t fire her. For winning. Clearly, he’s taken her under his wing.

Empresario files in, one at a time. They explain that nobody was fired, and Omarosa and Marilu Henner will have to switch teams. Piers is genuinely excited about this, and says that it’s like “Exchanging the devil for Nelson Mandela”. I love the specificity of that reference. Especially since Marilu did, in fact, spend 30 years in prison after being jailed as a political protest. Wait, that’s not true. But she did appear on a Burt Reynolds sitcom. They’re the same thing in a lot of ways.

Opening credits. I dare you to remember one single thing about Jennie Finch.

Of course we get the requisite “Presenting the check to charity” scene. Piers, if you’ll recall (and who besides me does?), is playing for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which helps the families of fallen American soldiers. I never like these scenes, but Piers presents it over the phone, and the man representing the charity seems genuinely excited. My heart’s with a charity that doesn’t immediately spend the money to fly somebody to New York so they can pick up a check on television. Also, there’s a close-up of Trump’s signature on the check, and I’m quite confident that he misspells his last name. I think he signs his name as “Trummmp”. He should actually do that, so next time he does one of those stupid ads for Trump Steaks, he can use the slogan “Putting the ‘mmm’ in ‘Trummmp’.” (Dear Donald Trump: If you’d like to pay me for that slogan, I’ll entertain all offers. I am also willing to accept money to stop making fun of your pink ties.)

Trump meets the Retarded Baby Ducklings on a helipad. Marilu, in an interview, talks about how there’s nothing more exciting than a helicopter. Boy, the comparisons to Nelson Mandela just keep piling up. One thing we’ll learn this week is that most of Marilu’s thoughts can be summed up with the phrase “There’s nothing more exciting than (blank).”

Once again, Trump explains to the assembled masses that there had been no way to decide who to fire. Shockingly, we don’t cut to Piers restating that exact same thought. Trump goes on to state that one of the greatest companies out there is QVC. Man, even people who work for QVC don’t honestly think that. There’s hyperbole, and then there’s flat-out lying. Anyway, the teams will fly, via helicopter (cut to Marilu looking ecstatic), to QVC headquarters in Pennsylvania. Trump cautions them to fly out using the exact same path through which they flew in. No, wait. That was on Lost. Too many helicopters on Thursday night! Once at QVC, each team will produce a 10 minute live segment wherein they sell a product of their choice. If the teams pick the same product, they’ll have to negotiate. Wow, I wonder if that’s going to happen. It should be noted that Carol Alt is wearing insane sunglasses in this scene. She is in The Matrix. In fact, everybody except Piers is wearing sunglasses. He is, however, standing uncomfortably close to Lennox Lewis. Some things never change.

Stephen Baldwin is project manager for Empresario. Hydra picks Marilu, as she’s the only one on the team who hasn’t won any money for her charity. Actually, she and Omarosa are the only ones left who haven’t been a winning project manager. You know, Omarosa was on the first season of this show, but she also wasn’t any good at it then. Maybe she needs to find a new shtick. Trump tries to stir the pot by asking Piers how happy he is to not be with Omarosa, and even Piers is tired of that whole thing by now.

In an interview, Tito Ortiz states that his team can’t lose, because if they do, somebody will be fired. Eight weeks in, and he’s finally figured out the premise of the competition. Somebody get Tito a cookie!

Commercials. Dennis Miller is hosting a game show? I see NBC is pulling out the big charisma guns. I have severe issues with this Amne$ia. Not only is the ‘s’ represented by a dollar sign, but the ‘i’ is actually a man holding up his arms in confusion. I don’t have that button on my keyboard.

In a Hydra meeting, Piers immediately starts in about using Lennox’s celebrity power to sell products, and they’d be stupid to pass that up. Is Piers actually reading spunkybean? He’s just hitting me softballs now. Lennox yawns, and Piers tells everybody that Lennox was out drinking all night. I have no idea if that’s true, but if it is, I think we know who was buying. You just know Piers sent many an appletini over to Lennox’s table. In an interview, Piers talks about Lennox being tired, and calls him “Lennox ‘Sleepy Boy’ Lewis”. Lennox interviews that Piers has ‘diarrhea of the mouth’. And then, the Piers Morgan Man Crush Players present the following scene:

LENNOX: You’ve got to stop using me in those types of ways.


LENNOX: I think I can be used in different ways.

PIERS: What ways?

LENNOX: Different ways.

How they resisted using a 70’s porno soundtrack, I will never know.

Anyway, Lennox wants to produce, and in an interview, he actually says “I may be a world champion boxer, but what I really want to do is direct.” Aren’t all boxers really just frustrated auteurs? Piers makes a joke about Lennox being the next Francis Ford Coppola, which is totally unfair. Lennox would never make a movie where Robin Williams plays an eight-year-old boy with rapid aging syndrome. Give the guy some credit. Marilu jumps in to say that she worked with Francis Ford Coppola, and nobody cares.

Both teams meet with a QVC executive to view the products available. They can choose a magnifying mirror, a tool kit, a frying pan, a bamboo storage drawer, an electric sweeper, and a ladder that turns into a handtruck. Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but if I’m standing on a stepladder, I would prefer that it not have wheels.

Empresario is geeked about the ladder, and Trace says that if the other team wants it, they should just flip a coin. If they can’t get the ladder, Tito wants the sweeper. Omarosa wants the mirror. Of course she does. How else will she locate Snow White after she escapes to the forest. Trace makes a joke about a “sweeper-mirror” which is kind of funny, but nowhere near as funny as Stephen thinks it is. I think I heard an actual knee-slap in there.

Hydra also loves the ladder. I know people on this show tend to get excited about things, but Marilu loves the ladder more than Vera Wang loved both window displays combined. She says she’s passionate about the ladder, and she tells her team that if she saw one on TV, she’d pick up the phone and order one instantly. Then, in an interview, she tells us the exact same thing using the exact same phrasing. Way to earn those paychecks, editors.

Both teams head to negotiations; Marilu and Carol for Hydra, Stephen and Tito for Empresario. Both teams want the ladder, and nobody’s going to back down. They go for the coin.

Now, Stephen Baldwin is a weird dude. But basically, he’s an OK guy. He treats people pretty well, and other than being spazzy and not that bright, I kind of like him. But then he explains to us that he’s “God’s guy.” Since he’s on the Lord’s team, he should win the coin flip. This is one of my pet peeves in reality television. Whatever Supreme Being you believe in, you’d have to agree that said Being is not overly concerned with reality television. And if you start invoking God for a coin toss that means the difference between selling ladders and selling vacuums, you’ve just gone too far. Empresario loses the coin toss, which probably means God was tied up with keeping the Earth from spinning into the sun.

Marilu is overjoyed about her ladder. Empresario heads back to pick their product. Trace is visibly disappointed, and I am distracted by the fact that Trumps’s new book is standing upright on a table in the background. Trace likes the sweeper, since it will be easy to demonstrate. Stephen asks Tito what he thinks. First off, Tito already said he liked the sweeper. Second, Stephen calls him “Homes”. Oh, Little Stevie B., what are we to do with you? Tito likes the sweeper because it’s “lightweight for women”. Wow. Two implied gender stereotypes in three words. They agree on the sweeper.

In a Hydra meeting, Carol says that both she and Marilu should go on, but they’ll probably talk over each other. Carol is good at selling her position. Apparently, both of them frequently appear on QVC to hawk products, a fact which my mother confirmed. (I mean, she confirmed it when I asked her, not that she appeared on the show to verify these statements. That would have been weird.) Carol then says that Marilu is “way high energy”, which I guess is one way to put it, and they agree that Marilu should be the on-air spokesperson. Marilu talks to us about her experience with QVC, and how she goes on to sell her books whenever she writes a new one. Again with the Nelson Mandela parallels!

What follows is a weird scene where it looks like everybody at Hydra has lost their frontal lobes and they’re just stating obvious things about the ladder to one another. I think they’re actually trying to work out the presentation and they’re basically just doing a “Yes, and…”, but it still makes them look a little bit crazy. And I can’t tell you how excited Marilu is about this ladder. I don’t think they should leave her alone with it, if you know what I’m saying.

Empresario decides that Trace will be their on-air salesman. That’s a good call on Stephen’s part. After all, Stephen’s enthusiasm can be off-putting, Tito thinks that the people on TV are tiny and actually live inside the set, and Omarosa is the devil. Stephen tells Trace how good-looking he is, and Trace responds with “Yeah, I understand that”, which is hilarious. Stephen tells us that when you think QVC, you think Trace Adkins. While that’s not technically correct, there’s a good point in there. I’m willing to bet a high percentage of QVC’s viewership is going to be familiar with Trace Adkins, definitely more than they’d be familiar with Tito or Stephen. He then says the image of Trace pushing a tiny electric sweeper is ‘adorable’, and suddenly I’m intrigued by the idea of a line of Celebrity Apprentice-themed Beanie Babies.

Each team gets one of the standard QVC hosts to appear on-air with them, and Empresario gets Lisa Robertson. Now, I used to have a huge crush on Lisa Robertson. Maybe ten years back, when all of the other hosts were sort of matronly and perky, Lisa had sort of a leather-clad sex kitten thing going on. (Don’t judge me!) Sadly, once QVC realized it, they sort of played up that angle, and then it was just disappointing. Stealth hotness is a glorious thing, but QVC-endorsed sex appeal is bland and sad. I haven’t seen her in several years now, and I am surprised to find out that she has aged. And then I look in a mirror and see that I have aged about four times as much as she has. In another five years, I’ll look like her dad. She and Trace click pretty easily, which Trace attributes to her being a “Southern girl”, and I attribute to her being somebody who has to click with celebrity co-hosts for a living.

Hydra gets a guy named Rick, and Marilu says he walked in with his “teeth and hair and eyes”, and further review of the tape indicates that all three of those features are present on and around his head. Piers tells Rick to play to Marilu’s “unbelievable passion” for the ladder. This is the first time I have ever heard “ladder” and “passion” in the same sentence. Rick talks about how the ladder is the “best of both worlds”. Well, sure. The Ladder World and the Hand Truck World.

Marilu gets the bright idea of wheeling Rick out on the handcart, which she claims to have seen in an old musical. This works about as well as you’d imagine, turning into the second most hilarious fall of the season. She drops Rick on his ass. Hard. And the way he lands, well, let’s just say that he might have gotten a little too intimate with the ladder. He laughs it off, but you tell that it really hurt, and he now wants the other team to win.

At Empresario, Stephen and Omarosa are arguing over whether or not to rehearse. Stephen feels it’s unnecessary, Omarosa and Lisa disagree. Omarosa says if she were project manager, there’d be a rehearsal. Of course, in two seasons on the show, she’s never won as project manager. Stephen says that he’s “a really good director”. And probably an excellent driver as well.

Donald Jr. flies out to QVC in a giant black helicopter. Empresario shows off their sweeper, and Stephen says that Ivanka really needs one. Everybody finds this hilarious, and it really is hard to picture Ivanka running a midget vacuum under a coffee table. It’s also hard to imagine that anything in Ivanka’s house could ever even get dirty. Don Jr. agrees that Trace is a good choice for a spokesperson.

Don visits Hydra, and immediately Marilu starts extolling the virtues of the ladder. He seems a little terrified as she launches into a full sales pitch. You know how a couple of weeks ago, in the Vera Wang challenge, her teammates made her out to be kind of flaky and weird about communication? I think this episode is retroactively proving them right.

Stephen talks with a QVC creative consultant. He asks about the possibility of breaking the cost of the item into monthly payments. QVC Guy explains that’s called “EZ Pay”. Then Stephen asks what EZ Pay is, and the consultant resists the urge to answer “That thing you just said.” Stephen then gives thanks to the Lord for the existence of EZ Pay. Does this segment exist to show Baldwin being a dork again, or is it foreshadowing? I know I’ll be on the edge of my seat until I find out.

Empresario is getting ready for their segment. Lennox is directing, and he’s thrilled about it. He explains that he wants to start with videos and then work his way up to movies. Heck, if Uwe Boll can go from directing to boxing, no reason Lennox can’t go the other way. And Lennox is probably better at both, come to think of it. Piers again likens Lennox to Francis Ford Coppola, and I have to wonder if that’s the only director Piers has ever heard of. Lennox is giving orders to the cameramen and producers, and it’s clear he’s actually really into this. Meanwhile, Carol is standing there making a square with her hands. You know, the thing that movie directors in old Bugs Bunny cartoons do, but never happens anywhere else. Carol’s not even trying on this task. Piers is monitoring the sales activity, and they have this cool real-time display that constantly tracks data. That’s the kind of thing I could stare at forever.

There’s a moment of panic when Marilu can’t hear Piers from the booth. A technician manages to correct the problem by pushing the correct buttons. Piers final advice to Marilu before air? “You’re Marilu Henner. Just live it, baby.” That’s so awesome I can almost hardly eat my pineapple. And also, Nelson Mandela scrawled something very similar on the wall of his cell. I think we can agree that he just lived it, baby.

When the segment starts, we cut to Trump and Ivanka watching it in Trump Tower, formerly Trummmp Tower. And in an episode full of people stating the obvious, these two win the trophy with the following exchange:

TRUMP: They’re using Marilu.

IVANKA: She’s the project manager on this task.

Marilu is freaking out about the ladder on the air. She demonstrates how ladders make you taller. Hilariously, she says to Rick, “It’s great for you, it’s great for your husband.”

She then starts acting out a scenario where she’s wheeling paint supplies through her house. Trump thinks she’s talking too much. Rick takes a call from some woman who wants to buy a ladder. Now, Rick is asking this woman questions, only Marilu is answering them. The look on Rick’s face is priceless. Trump and Ivanka agree that Marilu has lost her mind, Piers is telling her to stop talking. Finally, the segment lurches to a weird and awkward end. I would have paid money to see this segment in full, as it aired on QVC. I bet your average viewer thought Marilu had a drug problem. Still, her team is very happy, and Piers and Lennox discuss call volume. Apparently in went down, and then up. Good to know.

Empresario is ready to go, and Trace is crazy nervous. He looks like he’s going to poop a brick right then and there. Stephen is directing, and Tito is ordered to “do (his) thing”. I can not imagine what Tito’s thing might be. He appears to be monitoring the call volume, but I think they probably just gave him a screen saver. Trace looks like he’s two seconds away from a stroke when the segment starts. Once they begin, he’s maybe a little stiff at first, but he’s really pretty good. He pours some screws on the ground, to show how the sweeper picks them up. I hope he rehearsed that ahead of time, because that could have been embarrassing. Trump is really impressed. I think he’s going to order a sweeper.

Trace demonstrates how easy it is to clean, and by this point he’s settled in to a sort of soothing, pleasant delivery. On Stephen’s prompt, Lisa mentions the EZ Pay, and they wrap up the segment. As soon as it’s over, Trace goes back to his panic attack, fanning himself with his hat. Stephen congratulates Trace and Tito on their performance. Well, sure. Tito managed to sit quietly and not break or swallow anything.

And now, it’s time for the Boardroom. The Retarded Baby Ducklings take their seats. Marilu is displaying an age-inappropriate amount of cleavage. She talks again of her passion for the ladder, and Piers mentions what a great job she did. Trump expresses surprise that she had so much energy for a ladder, which is not exactly an exciting product. Clearly they cut out the part where Marilu slapped him for dissing her ladder.

Trump asks Tito how he thinks they did. Tito thinks they probably did well. Great enthusiasm there. Trump praises Trace for showing the sweeper’s ability to pick up screws. I’m convinced Trump did order one of these, and he spent the weekend pouring screws and bolts on the ground and sweeping them up. Stephen says Omarosa did a good job, which nobody has ever said before. Ever.

Stephen talks about how he thinks using EZ Pay helped their sales. Cut to Carol looking panicked. As he explains how EZ Pay works for the hundredth time this episode, both Piers and Marilu react like the real killers on an episode of Perry Mason.

Empresario sold more than 700 sweepers for a total of $43,000. In ten minutes, mind you. Even subtracting the hundred that Trump bought, that’s darn good. Hydra sold slighty fewer units, but made only $35,000. Subtract the reconstructive surgery for Rick’s tailbone, and I think they actually lost money. Empresario wins, for only the second time ever! Of course, three of the four team members actually came over from Hydra, so it’s not like this is a dramatic shift in fortunes. Stephen wins another $20,000 for his mother’s cancer research fund! Trump sends them out, still talking about how impressive the nuts and bolts were.

Trump asks Piers who’s to blame. Piers blames the team. That’s not helpful. Trump asks why they didn’t use EZ Pay. Marilu says she didn’t know it was an option. On the one hand, Carol and Marilu both show up on QVC a lot and should know things. On the other, they might not have realized that they could set the pricing structure. I don’t know how specifically the task was explained, so they could well have believed they didn’t have that kind of input. Of course, Stephen Baldwin figured out, so it’s not brain surgery. Then, in a weirdly edited moment, Carol claims not to know about EZ Pay. Only her “No” is so emotional that she seems to be responding to the question “Carol, should I strangle this kitten?”

Trump asks Piers who he should fire. After some prompting, my jaw drops when Piers suggests “Sleepy Boy”. He claims Lennox slept through most of the task, and Lennox only admits to sleeping on the helicopter ride. Of course, we didn’t see any of this possibly useful footage, because the editors were too busy creating interview segments where the Ducklings restated the task, explained the concepts of home shopping and The Apprentice, and possibly also the idea of reality television. There’s a reason The Amazing Race wins the Emmy every year. And that reason is that it isn’t The Apprentice.

Trump takes disproportionate offense to “Sleepy Boy”, and for a second, I think that’s it for Piers. That’s not unheard of. Piers assures him that it’s just banter. Marilu can’t really deny that Lennox was low-energy. I’m not sure if that’s true or if she’s just disappointed that he didn’t try to make out with the glorious ladder. Piers and Trump discuss whether or not Marilu was off-putting. I’ll say this for Piers: He doesn’t jump on the wounded gazelle like most of the other contestants do. Once Trump insults somebody, most of them just pile on.

Lennox says he’d fire Marilu, and Carol agrees. Marilu claims the problem was price point, and Trump actually does the math correctly and says that if the price of the ladder were $10 higher, they still wouldn’t have won. If Trump’s going to be running the numbers correctly, my job is going to be much harder.

Empresario, from their suite, talks about how nervous Piers seems. Actually, Stephen does. He announces that he’s in shock. Piers keeps talking up Marilu. Trump asks Marilu who she’d fire. After preparing a delicious word salad without a conclusion, Trump just tells her to stop talking. He asks who she’s bringing to the final Boardroom, and she picks Piers and Lennox. Trump defended Lennox’s performance, and nobody even fingered Piers (Ew!). Carol, on the other hand, was singled out by Ivanka for blowing the EZ Pay. Besides, we didn’t see Carol contribute anything at all, other than posing. Marilu’s survival instincts are not great. Anyway, they file out, and while they’re waiting, Piers actually tries to hug Lennox. Piers Morgan: Severe Man Crush or Loyal spunkybean Reader? You decide!

Trump and the Trumplings debate. Something insane happens with Don Jr.’s voice here. This show’s sort of notorious for its after-the-fact ADR work, but Don’s not even using his real voice. It’s sort of like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, where Sanchez’ voice is an octave lower than it should be. I’m not sure what happened there, but I’ve watched it ten times now, and it keeps cracking me up.

In the waiting room, Piers and Lennox are explaining to Marilu that she should have taken Carol, because of the EZ Pay thing. Not really chiding her, either. I think they’re preparing her for how it’s going to go in the Boardroom.

Back in the Boardroom, Trump agrees with me and asks why she brought Piers, and she explains that’s because she’s a better player. Let’s see, before this task, Piers had six wins and one loss, and she had one win and six losses. Well, Nelson Mandela isn’t good with statistics either.

Then Marilu tries to play the “sleepy” card on Lennox, even though Trump’s already made it clear that he’s not having it. Piers and Trump agree that Carol should be there. I love the way Trump treats Piers and Stephen almost like they’re honorary Trumplings. It’s always kind of assumed that they’re not getting fired, so he just goes to them for advice.

Piers makes some good points about EZ Pay and Carol’s experience, and Trump points out that Piers is sweating. He really is, and I’m not quite sure what that’s about. Ivanka explains what a tough situation her father is in, because they can’t isolate a poor performer. Trump thanks her for that. I don’t know what just happened there. He’s acting like that was his Father’s Day gift.

Marilu keeps going after Lennox, and I’m starting to be convinced that Piers just brought that up to give Carol or Marilu false hope. If that’s true, he’s a mad genius. And it worked, because Trump finally has to put a stop to all this “sleepy” talk and admit that it was just a distressing on-air performance, and he fires Marilu. After she’s gone, Trump says it’s sad, because she’s a “high class person”. Dude, if Mandela had creeped everybody out over a ladder, you’d have had to fire him, too.

In the Loser Limo, Marilu mentions again how much she loves the show, and now she feels like “a member of the Trump family”. And she seems happy about that. There are actual members of the Trump family who aren’t that thrilled about it, for Pete’s sake!

Farewell, Marilu. At least Burnett resisted the urge to drive you out of there in a taxi…

Next week, the teams are apparently pornographers. Seriously, you see Carol Alt’s O-face in the promo. We’re heading to the dark side here, people.

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