It’s been two weeks since the last show, and that’s given me some time to ponder the spectacle that is this season’s Apprentice. Well…I suppose that’s not strictly true, because this thought actually just occurred to me – this season, the candidates are almost like a new crop of army privates, aren’t they? They live in a camp, like a training camp, right? And when they’re not in camp, they live in a barracks – a pretty fancy one, admittedly, but all the beds are in the same room. And Trump is sort of like a general, with all his little drill sergeants (Ivanka, Sean, Don Jr.), who shout at and mock the trainees. Let’s see, what else? There’s, um, a fence, sort of (the hedge). There’s a variety of pointless exercises that are supposed to make better business people out of the candidates, but are actually designed to break their spirit and become slavishly loyal to The Donald. Hey, maybe it’s kind of a weak analogy, but I had to justify the bad pun in the title of this recap somehow, didn’t I?
For those of you who were caught up in Super Bowl fever last week and may have forgotten the, er, excitement of the previous week – Arrow pulled off their first win and have squatting rights in the mansion, while Kinetic has been banished to Camp Trump, less Marisa. Kinetic are good losers, and instead of lurking around and eavesdropping through the hedge, they are now chatting with Arrow in a neighborly fashion over the top of the shrubbery. If I were Arrow, I’d be taking advantage of the indoor plumbing and the microwave instead of gossiping, but to each his own. Aaron recounts his experience as Trump’s right hand in the boardroom to his team, and admits that Donald thought Aaron was too quiet. We get a clip of Trump admonishing Aaron to “say something!”. Now there’s a switch – usually the Apprenti can’t stop talking, given half a chance. You’d think Trump would appreciate someone actually thinking before they open their mouth, but this clip is presented in kind of an ominous way. Almost like foreshadowing. Or maybe a lot like foreshadowing.
Donald’s new honey
Where oh where has the lovely Trump Junior Miss, Ivanka gone? Banished to rehab with Lindsay Lohan? Clubbing with Paris? Purging with Nicole? Oh, come on, you know it’s only a matter of time before reality show fame ruins her. For the second week in a row, last season’s winner Sean is Trump’s second in command – in fact, Donald is heading out of town and plans to leave Sean in charge. Well, we know who Daddy’s current favorite is, don’t we? Before he departs, Trump takes another shot at Aaron for being “not vocal” in the boardroom (wow, that’s almost like foreshadowing, again).
The task this week involves one of the largest honey-making operations in the world, Sue Bee Honey. You know, the honey with the cute but rather politically incorrect logo of the little girl with the feather? On second thought, I’d rather not go there. Sorry ‘bout that. Anyway, the teams will be harvesting, bottling, and selling honey. There’s the usual forced smiles from the teams – a little more forced than usual. Is it just barely possible that Trump is so bored by the thought of this task, he’s bailing out on purpose? Naahhhh…
Bees - they’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun
The teams, seriously, have to go to a bee farm or whatever they’re called, and handle the bees. Arrow is up first, and Stefani is not happy at the prospect of being around insects that sting. Oh, it’s hard to be brave, when you’re only a very small girl. The team dons beekeepers’ white suits and mesh headgear. Apparently bees pick up on fear, so the team is warned to not look the bees directly in the eyes, as it could make the bees feel they’re being challenged. What, you don’t believe me? Fine, go stare down a bee, and see what happens. Don’t blame me if you’re attacked. Stefani obviously overcomes her initial doubts, as Frank tells the camera that she managed to get right in there and obtain sssseveral ssssmall smackerels of the sweet stuff.
That annoying buzzing sound isn’t bees
Meanwhile, back at the Hundred-Acre Wood, Aaron, who retains his project manager status from his win last task, and James are working on the marketing plan. Surya is there too, but he’s busy being an overbearing pain in the ass. Surya is the kind of guy that can turn a meeting into a test of endurance, and you can almost hear Aaron and James clenching their jaws while Surya talks (and talks…and talks). Sean is in attendance, and he’s not impressed by Surya’s verbosity – we see him write “over-brainstorming” in his notes. James complains in confessional that Surya over-analyzes everything, and uses too many corporate buzzwords.
The Kinetic marketing team is Aimee and Jenn. Although Aimee was on the chopping block last week, she’s somehow contrived to be project manager this time around. She and Jenn are having a desultory conversation about the labels for the bottles, and as watching these two converse is akin to watching paint dry, we’re quickly whisked off to Kinetic’s beekeeping adventures. Derek notes with surprise that the bees can sting through the suits. So the point of the suits really is to make people look as ridiculous as possible? Who knew? As Derek and the others head back after a hard day of beekeeping and getting stung through the apparently useless protective gear, they find that Aimee and Jenn have done nothing in the four hours they’ve had to devise a marketing plan. We never do see Kinetic accomplish anything, as they launch into a bicker session over what to name the honey.
Up where we belong
If Arrow has nothing else going for them (and trust me, they don’t) at least they know how to have fun and give us somewhat entertaining TV. The team is supposed to be working on the honey production line, and everyone has a very specific function. They’re around big, scary-looking machinery, so safety should be the utmost concern (hey, I saw The Mangler) – yet there’s frequent usage of the emergency stop, because Tim, in spite of being a Harvard graduate, can’t seem to make sure that the honey gets in the bottles properly. He makes a sticky mess of a bunch of bottles, and he and Frank engage in a Lucy-and-Ethel verbal spat that has nearly everyone on the team laughing, even Surya. Stefani, who knows how to work a lever, gazes wistfully into the distance, no doubt daydreaming about Richard Gere in uniform, suddenly appearing to whisk her off into the sunset.
Pillsbury Dough Boy? Or Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man?
It’s time to peddle their wares, but Kinetic isn’t ready when the store opens. Instead, PM Aimee is wandering the aisles, looking for marshmallow fluff. The team is annoyed that Aimee is shopping when she should be delegating, at least, so Muna and Derek take charge and start hauling boxes of honey and are generally looking busy, while Aimee’s BFF Jenn stands slack-jawed in front of a grocery cart, presumably waiting for Aimee to appear with the marshmallow fluff.
At Arrow, Stefani – who has donned her pretentious oversized eyeglasses again – is manning the sample table. Surya is again making a nuisance of himself, hanging around and interrupting Stefani’s sales spiel. Tim and Nicole are driving around to local bakeries attempting to make bulk sales. They may be luckless in winning tasks but looks like they’re lucky in love – Tim admits that there’s an attraction between them, as he makes cow eyes at Nicole, who is pointedly trying to ignore him and, perhaps, concentrate on the job at hand. Tim says he hopes the store team is racking up the sales – I suppose they could have, had they not had a PM who admits he “hates sales”. Aaron is uninterested in hocking honey, and leaves James to explain to Sean that Aaron’s management style is “laid-back”. Which is sort of a corporate buzzword-type way of saying “apathetic”, I guess. And a little more of that almost-foreshadowing.
Kinetic doesn’t appear to be faring any better at selling. They need a gimmick, and Derek decides to don the beekeeper suit to try to push the honey sales up. He thinks he looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, or perhaps the Michelin Man. He does have a Dough Boy-like giggle, but I’m thinking more Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Of course it could be that I have marshmallows on the brain – what is marshmallow fluff, anyway?
Shinny star Angela joins in the fun – she’s going to work that Olympic pedigree and like many, many before her, use her sports fame to sell crap. Except that she’s not getting those big endorsement fees. Great, another Harvard graduate who doesn’t seem all that bright. I could probably write a few thoughtful lines about all the debates we at the FORT have had regarding the Apprentice women using the “sex sells” approach, and now we have a woman who’s flashing her gold medals like Season 2 runner-up Jenn Massey worked a mini-skirt. This recap’s getting rather long-ish already, though, so perhaps next week.
Sean assembles the teams in the boardroom, and – get this – phones Trump on his cell, while he’s giving a speech to a crowd in Minnesota. You know how you hate when someone expects the world to stop because they’re taking a call? Well, this bunch of Minnesotans have actually paid to hear Trump stop the proceedings to discuss the honey caper and hear the sales figures. The action we saw at the stores was so dismal I didn’t think either team had sold anything, but Sean announces that Arrow sold 217 bottles for $775.48, while Kinetic sold 345 bottles for $836.58, thereby assuring themselves a swim in the pool and a warm bed for the next few days in the mansion. They’re also getting a reward – not as sweet as the Arrow beach concert, but they are going to the Los Angeles Lakers training center and will get some hang time with the players.
In the paint and over the hedge
Arrow’s headed back to camp, and Nicole is freaking out at the prospect. I guess the light of the campfire isn’t romantic enough for her & Tim, because she is clearly unhappy about having to rough it once again. Hey, next time keep your mind more on sales and less on playing footsie in the limo, toots.
Kinetic arrives at the Lakers training center in shiny new track suits, and are greeted by Zen master Phil Jackson, Lakers head coach. Phil’s going to have Kinetic do some drills with forward Brian Cook and legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. No, I’m sorry, Kobe didn’t show, not that any of the Kinetic team members would have noticed – the sole comment we hear is from Muna, saying that Phil Jackson is taller than she expected. I mean, what??? Inexplicably, the Harlem Globetrotters theme music plays during this segment, which seems fairly demeaning when we’re watching Hall of Famer Kareem at the same time. If I were to explain it to Angela, I’d say it was like mentioning Wayne Gretzky and the Hanson Brothers in the same sentence.
Team Arrow are turning out to be darn good campers. Frank handles the outdoor grill like a pro and has got a mess of sunny-side up eggs cooking. Meanwhile, James coaches Aaron on boardroom tactics – somehow, the loud, outspoken James has managed to fly under Trump’s radar in the boardroom, so Aaron would do well to heed his comments. Aaron discusses who he should bring in with James, Tim and Frank, and the general consensus is that Surya will be one, but no one knows who the second should be. Surya knows his butt is on the line, and has an urgent, whispered conference with Derek over the hedge. He talks trash about Arrow and begs Derek for help. Surya obviously scored a lot of points with his former team before his departure, because Derek immediately approaches Aimee and asks her to use her boardroom influence to save Surya. She assures him she won’t let Surya go down.
This tough cookie could use a little honey
Donald is taking a break in his motivational seminar schedule to attend the boardroom, possibly just to show off his new golden-hued (like honey, natch) necktie. He’s flanked by Sean and a nervous-looking Aimee, and takes first aim at Surya. Surya blames the loss on the lack of a solid plan and says Aaron should take the fall. Trump shifts focus to Aaron, again lambasting him for being too quiet. Aaron politely responds that he values his words and wanted to observe before he spoke. He and James blame Surya for the poor marketing, but Aimee interrupts with some harsh questions about who was responsible for the marketing in the first place. Surya defends himself, but it’s clearly unnecessary as Aimee is like a pit bull guarding its food dish. In fact, Aimee is a lot bossier in the boardroom than when she was PM. Trump seems impressed, but comments that although Aimee is a tough cookie, she may be “too” tough. Donald starts to ask who should be fired, but he’s distracted by the hot Arrow gossip – namely, whether or not Tim and Nicole are an item. He amuses himself by teasing the pair for awhile, and takes a little shot at Sean, who had a short-lived showmance with Tammy Trenta, the fourth runner-up last season. Trump finally gets back to business and asks Aaron who he’s bringing back. Aaron names Surya and – Nicole. Donald’s obviously surprised, but no matter, because it gives him some more time to needle her about Tim. Even though he’s more interested in the possibility of some inter-Apprenti nooky (think of the ratings!), he still has to listen to Surya’s tiresome whining – and constant use of the word “absurd” - about Aaron and the general suckiness of the Arrow bunch. When Trump asks Surya who the more talented team is, though, Surya hedges and won’t give a direct answer.
There’s the expected bickering between Surya & Aaron, and then Nicole surprises everyone by selling Aaron out and blaming him for the loss. Though she’s much nicer about it than Surya. Aimee is not nice at all, and continues to hammer on Aaron’s weaknesses, and Aaron defends himself but it looks like his heart is no longer in it. Trump finally has enough and decides that Aaron’s lame boardroom performance last week and his lack of leadership this week has done him in, and Aaron is fired.
Surya asks to be heard, but Donald’s out of patience and snarls at him to get out. Surya proves to be a graceless winner – he continues to whine and bitch to Nicole while Aaron departs, and squeaks out a couple more exclamations of “Absurd!” with some deep sighs for good measure. Aaron, well-mannered to the end, only comments that it’s not his style to come down on the opposing team, but allows himself a small snark at Aimee, who he says will be sitting on the other side of the boardroom table next week.
Looks like the Donald is going to get his wish – there’s a sneak peek of Tim and Nicole doing some tongue-wrasslin’ poolside (oh, and thanks ever so much, Mark Burnett, for not just foreshadowing but being blatantly obvious about the outcome next week, seeing as THERE’S ONLY ONE POOL). Just in time for Valentine’s Day – well, four days afterwards, actually, but close enough! Hugs and kisses and cinnamon hearts until next time!
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