It did not disappoint. After several weeks of promos that promised to bring “crazy,” the fourth iteration of Celebrity Apprentice premiered last night, and it. was. amazing. This is what reality TV is all about: that combustible mix of people doing ridiculous things all for our enormous entertainment. After just fifteen minutes, I knew Celebrity Apprentice was going to be one of the very best shows of the year, and I have a hard time thinking it could possibly go anywhere but up. In many ways, eleven years of modern reality TV have led us to this very point: the brilliance that is Celebrity Apprentice.Methinks the casting directors were ripped a new one after last season’s generally tame group of stars. We never had the intense drama and flare ups that we saw in seasons past (Joan vs. Annie; Piers vs. Omarosa). Instead we merely got some flamboyant moments courtesy of Cyndi Lauper and a whole lot of touchy feely friendly crap.
This time around, we’ve got serious tension right off the bat. Mark Burnett hauled in his old, reliable arch-villain Richard to shake things up, and that’s certainly what he did with the men. He infantalized the meek David Cassidy and brazenly told Jose Canseco that he had a lack of intelligence. The mixture of condescension and balls was jaw-dropping… and fantastic. I never liked Richard Hatch, but his entertainment value is undeniable. And quite frankly, after the promos pushed the Gary Busey / Meat Loaf screaming, who would have thought it would be Richard and Jose in the most heated dustup?
Surprisingly, Gary may have been crazy, but he wasn’t totally incoherent. He actually came off as rather endearing and kooky, and his gambit as the Pepperoni Prophet (or Profit, depending on context) was actually somewhat brilliant. When he tossed a handful of pepperoni on the sidewalk and announced that “wherever the pepperoni lands is where the miracle will happen,” I couldn’t help but firmly place myself on Team Busey.
Truth be told, many of the contestants this season have been eminently likable. I can’t believe how much I like Lil Jon and John Rich (hello future Wheel of Fortune Before & After puzzle). Lil Jon I thought would be just a caricature making funny noises, but he’s actually way more engaging than I had expected. As for John Rich, I didn’t really know anything about him, but I loved his cocky (but not obnoxious) attitude. I can see him being a dark horse in this competition.
Also endearing was the strange buddy situation that seemed to arise between Jose Canseco and David Cassidy. A total mismatch (much like Jose’s awful Ed Hardy-esque blazer), these two somehow worked as a twosome. Kind of reminded me of that old children’s book, Frog and Toad. Too bad for Jose that David got fired. Yes, even though Richard was the Project Manager / tyrant, he was smooth and vicious in the boardroom, capably rooting out the weakness inherent in David. I gotta admit that while Hatch was a bully and obnoxious as a leader, I did agree with Trump on his final decision. David Cassidy just wasn’t the alpha male that this competition requires of its stars. For crying out loud, he had to call in his daughter to get his one donation for the team. And she did NOT look happy to be there.
This week’s task, by the way, was the usual stars-take-over-a-restaurant-and-try-to-raise-money challenge. It didn’t earn high marks for creativity, but it did win me over, if only because it provided us with the visual of Dionne Warwick manning a cash register. Whitney Houston: this could be your future.
Yes, Project Manager Star Jones (four words that scare me to my core) put Dionne on the cash register — one of several managerial misfires on her end. She also printed up terrible flyers, botched up a delivery schedule, and closed shop two hours early. Her only saving grace was that she managed to land some big donors, which allowed her team to triumph over the men (who seemed largely organized and well-focused). In the end, Star’s charity took home a big chunk of change, but because the team wasn’t able to deliver eight pizzas to a firehouse, she lost out on $35,000. That cash went to team star Niki Taylor’s charity (the Red Cross, and surprisingly not anything to do with asthma, from which her sister died).
Speaking of Niki Taylor, I had no idea that a) she was mother to sixteen year old twins, or that b) she had that nasty wrist tattoo. Color me surprised.
Anyway, this season of Celebrity Apprentice has started magnificently, and I can only imagine how dirty it will get. Still bracing for the Nene-Star Jones showdown…
“I will win this competition, even if I have to marry every gay man in Manhattan.”
“I like the name Magnitude. Or better yet, ENDOCRINE!”
“Also, please tell the two rainbow colored bunnies in the corner that I do NOT appreciate their judgmental stares! I WILL KILL YOU, BUNNIES!”
“Mr. Trump, our team name is ASAP: Artists, Singers, Artists, and Performers.”
“I’m sorry. ASAP: Authors, Singers, Performers.”
“No, Artists, Professionals.”
“ASAP: “Artists, Professionals, Authors, Performers.”
“APAP: Artists, Pilots, Anteaters, Pirates.”
“You’re leaving out the S.”
“SAPAP: Soldiers, Aliens, Pears, Afghanistan, Police.”
“Yes, I’ll say it right away.”
“No, our team is ASAP.”
“Oh yes. We are ASAP, which stands for Aruba, Jamaica, Oooh I want to Take Ya!”
“First of all, that’s wrong. Second, that would be AJOIWTTY.”
“AJOIWTTY: Actresses Joining Our Interests With Turtles Tomorrow, Yes.”
“This raising money business is delicate stuff. I mean, I’m not delicate, but this process is. Ouch, I think a moth just landed on me.”
Guy: “So you just type in the total amount and press Enter.”
Dionne: “Oh I see. Thank you so much.”
“Hey, that’s what friends are for, right?”
“Oh you think you’re REEEEEAL cute, don’t you?”
“Sorry, I thought it would be funny.”
“Don’t you EVER say those words again. EVER!!!”
“Okay, is everyone clear on what they’re doing? You all are okay? David, you need a baby bottle or anything?”
“I’m sorry. I know that is a finger gun and not a real gun, but I really object to the notion that you’re shooting me with imaginary bullets. It’s not that I’m offended by the violence. It’s just that the gunfire really hurts. Ow!”
“I am so mad, I could just stand here and look like Jon from Garfield.”
David: “I don’t like that you pushed me, Richard.”
“I don’t remember doing that, but I apologize.”
“Well, you did push me.”
“I think I touched your back, but that’s okay, I accept that I may not have remembered the push on account of it being so small.”
“Thank you for that apology.”
“Anytime. Now do you want a juice box?”
“These flyers look amazing: ’90s fonts, generic design, and pictures so small that no one can see the celebrities!”
“Are you all telling me that you see Lil John standing on a car, and you don’t want to buy pizza from him?”
“The Pepperoni Prophet is here, and I am telling you that wherever I throw the sausage is where the miracle will happen. Amen to the Lord above for making pizza His vessel for change and the future! YEEEEHAAAW!!!”
“Wow, you really got into that character, Gary.”
“Okay, young man, tell me again what you want?”
“I just want to know if you can show me the way to San JosÃ©.”
“I WILL CUT YOU!”
“Alrighty, he wanted a pizza. P-I-Z-Z-A. Dot over the ‘I’ and let’s double check for two z’s. Great, got them both. So to review: pizza. Let me just underline that real quick so I don’t forget what he wants. Wonderful. Doesn’t that look pretty?”
“OY! These sheilas know how to make one heckuva pizza! Didgeridoo!”
“Hello, I’m television’s Katie Cassidy, and I shan’t be removing my sunglasses.”
“If Barbara Walters doesn’t pick up the phone, bitch is dead to me.”
Lisa: “Mr. Trump, I think it’s important for you to know that Nene Leakes killed Cyndi Lauper and sewed her scalp onto her dress.”
“Mr. Trump, I have absolutely no idea where I am.”
“Wow. And I thought Dennis Rodman was crazy.”
“WE’RE TRYING TO HELP PEOPLE. THAT’S WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT. AND I WANT A YOGURT RIGHT NOW. WITH FRUIT ON THE BOTTOM. THAT’S WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT!!”
“I am not delicate and little; although, I admittedly do have an ice cream headache.”
Trump: “Were you just eating ice cream?”
“Nah, but I thought about it. Ouch!”
“I resent being called sensitive. See? I can pinch my own earlobe without even complaining.”
What did you think about the premiere? Did Trump fire the right person?