The Apprentice 02/18/07 Recap: Mall Rats – Spanish Subtitles Available on DVD
Take a moment to consider that Donald Trump has gained and lost fortunes in the course of his business career. He makes mistakes, but somehow always manages to come back stronger than ever. (Except for the hairstyle, which gets progressively worse year to year.) If nothing else, let it be said that he knows when a ship is sinking – and sinking fast is this season of The Apprentice. We can throw blame around at the various players in this season 6 debacle, but the most likely culprit is the blockhead who thought it would be great fun to have a team camping out in the backyard (and I’m looking at you, Mark Burnett). So there’s a welcome change this week, and that’s the noticeable lack of footage of the unfortunates that have been banished to Camp Trump. Or maybe it’s because the Donald, who (judging from his boardroom banter last week) is now a champion of young love on his show, and he thinks that the two Apprenti playing kissy-face poolside are more interesting. Well, they are, at that.
The underdog overreacts
Arrow, awaiting the return of Nicole and Aaron or Surya, are making contingency plans. They’re wise to Trump’s boardroom whims, and know that the choice between Aaron and Surya is a crapshoot. They decide that should Surya return, he’s stuck being the next Project Manager, regardless of the task. Who knew that finding a scapegoat for a lousy performance could bring a team so close together?
Sure enough, Nicole returns with Surya, who is continuing to buzz angrily about the pack of lies that were being bandied about in the boardroom. As Kinetic eagerly listens in through the garden hedge (again, it’s Derek who is doing most of the eavesdropping – apparently running through a grocery store in a beekeeper suit didn’t tire him out), Tim escapes to confessional and smirking, describes Surya as being a wee bit fired up. Surya’s eyes are bulging, and his hair is standing on end as he denounces Aaron and stakes a claim as PM in the next task. The team nods innocently and agrees that’s a fine idea, indeed – Stefani even gives Surya a hug. Surya tells that camera that he has to prove himself, and that he “loves to be the underdog”. Does anyone really love to be the unpopular kid in class? Methinks Surya doth protest too much. He tells an obviously underwhelmed Arrow team that he’ll do anything to secure a win next task. Either they’re all drunk (again) or the outdoor life is agreeing with them.
Lamest. Task. Ever.
That’s right, a challenge so insipid that even the junior Trumps and former Apprentis couldn’t be bothered to show up for it. In fact, the Donald is barely making the effort this week – he’s all ready to take off in the Trump jet (you know it’s his because it has his name on it. And you guys thought the gold taps in the mansion bathrooms were ostentatious. Phhhft.). Trump introduces a couple of execs from priceline dot com - and no, I’m not linking their website for you, go type it in your search engine if you want to enter their contest. Chris, the executive VP, and Rick, the Chief Marketing Officer (at least that’s who they say they are – I think they’re just a couple of guys in Priceline’s IT department that lost the bet) want the candidates to promote their sweepstakes in local malls. You’d think that at least one of the teams would offer to just skip the task and take the loss so they could spend the day drinking beer around the campfire – I know I would. The candidates don’t even bother to try to look enthusiastic about this deadly dull challenge, and Trump himself only hangs around long enough to remind Aimee that she gets to retain her PM status this week, then hops on his jet. Guess he’s lost his fascination with the City of Angels – even his tan has faded.
Aimee is putting a brave face on and attempts to retain some of her boardroom toughness by using a harsher tone to assign duties to her Kinetic teammates. Angela, she says, will be in charge of marketing (better known as the kiss-of-death assignment) and Muna will be in charge of…tasks. Now, I would have stared down Aimee and asked her what the &%*! she was talking about, but Muna is a lot more tactful than I am, because she looks only slightly taken aback. She would have to be in two places at once, Muna explains. Kinetic looks annoyed and confused, and Kristine complains via confessional that Aimee is not delegating the tasks properly. For her part, Aimee looks even more like she just finished sucking on a lemon – last week, her team didn’t respond to apathy, and this week, they’re not responding to bullying. What’s a girl to do?
Scenes from a mall
Kinetic is the first to arrive at their location, and Derek & Jenn are meeting with their “mall contact”. What is a “mall contact”? Some woman in a suit who wanders the aisles and rides the escalators, and how sweet of a job is that? She tells Derek & Jenn that the clientele of the mall is 50% Hispanic, and for a brief moment, I think, “Wow! What a great tip! This way, you have an idea of what your customer base is like and can tailor your sales approach accordingly!” Like I said, a brief moment.
At Arrow, Tim has a pretty good idea of doing an “incremental” sweepstakes, and announcing a winner every 20 minutes. Frankly, this entire task has me confused – the point is to sign people up to enter the Priceline sweepstakes, but the teams are giving away prizes during the task itself. Either the producers left out some rather important information during the description of the challenge, or they mentioned it while my three-year-old was performing swan dives off the arm of my living room couch. Surya is busy regimenting the brainstorming session – which kind of defeats the entire purpose of “brainstorming”. He’s giving people their own “scope of responsibility”, and making the team members keep their thinking inside their own little individual box. See, I can bandy corporate jargon about too. Surya is behaving like a cranky schoolteacher, and Frank is like the kid in the back row who throws spitballs. Frank doesn’t seem to care for his thinking-box, and is acting up accordingly. Much to the amusement of his teammates, he produces doodles of Surya-as-mad-scientist. Yep, the outdoor life definitely agrees with this bunch of clowns.
The powers that be at Kinetic have decided that the team members must be dressed like caricatures of tourists in the tropics, and are outfitted in predictably ugly Hawaiian shirts and goofy straw hats. Their kiosk is decked out in matching hula skirts and fake flowers. Aimee thinks this is cute and appropriate garb, yet somehow “professional”. Far too professional for the inflatable pink octopus that rests on top of the booth. Aimee makes an important executive-type decision and removes the octopus, which distracts from the overall tacky look of the kiosk. She then spends an inordinate amount of time explaining to Jenn, who is dully pinning up silk hibiscus blooms, why the octopus is wrong and un-professional. Jenn doesn’t even pretend to listen to Aimee, and bitches in confessional about Aimee’s idiotic preoccupation with plastic sea creatures. The BFFs from last week have had a sudden and ugly Paris-Nicole split, it seems.
Arrow is experiencing some newfound enthusiasm for their task, possibly because PM Surya is MIA. James, Tim and Nicole are charging around, handing out flyers, and chatting up people about their sweepstakes draws. They have a screen on their kiosk that continually runs a Priceline free-vacations commercial, and a good time is being had by all. Frank is a self-described “selling machine”, and keeps busy by charming the polyester pants off the mall-walker demographic. The team neither knows nor cares where their PM is – and as it turns out, Surya is wandering the mall, trying to make nice with the customers, who are giving him odd looks and backing rapidly away from him. Not much different from being at home with the team, eh Surya?
Kinetic’s Angela and Heidi are experiencing the same kind of rejection in their sales approach. It slowly dawns on them that there’s a big wall between them and their potential customers – kind of like a big ol’ border wall, because as it turns out, the Spanish-speaking mall clientele can’t understand them and are understandably frightened of two gringa chicas in hideous shirts and stupid hats cornering them between Gap and Banana Republic. The problem is compounded by Kinetic’s idea of having people sign up online for the Priceline sweepstakes, and Derek and Muna, the only Spanish-speaking Kinetic team members, have to walk the customers through the online application. ¡qué pena!
The Priceline execs are chatting with Donald, and they don’t seem all that dazzled by the candidates’ efforts. Go figure. However, they do single out Frank and Muna as making a somewhat favorable impression, though CMO Chris comments that he didn’t much like Kinetic’s booth. I knew Aimee should have let that pink octopus be.
Trump’s managed to find one of his kids, and Don Jr. is dragged in for an appearance. Surya, in spite of not hanging out with his team during the task, is confident they did an amazing job. Trump asks Kinetic how Aimee was as a leader, and the team is ominously silent, but keeps strained-looking grins plastered on during the questioning. Don Jr. earns his keep by announcing the results – Kinetic signed up 326 people for the Priceline sweepstakes, while Arrow managed to find 359 mall patrons who were willing to sign up to be bombarded with spam and endless mail advertisements from Priceline – uh, win a ****free**** vacation, that is. Surya beams and tells the Donald he wanted “to show you what I could do”, and Trump pretends not to see all the eye-rolling from the remainder of the Arrow team as he announces their reward – surfing lessons and a meal at Gladstone’s, which is apparently some well-known Santa Monica eatery. Donald suddenly turns cranky, snaps “life’s a bitch” at the Kinetic team, and he’ll see them in the boardroom.
C’mon, babe, it’s a surfin’ safari
There’s some very brief footage of Kinetic dragging their sorry behinds back to Camp Trump, a short whine from Kristine about the campsite’s filthiness, and even though Arrow is back in da house, Frank is still showing off his BBQ’ing skills and is grilling up some form of processed meat. And faster than the click of the editing guy’s delete key, Team Arrow is whisked off to the beach for their surf lessons with Pat and Lisa, king and queen of the blue crush. Arrow, who are all about a good time at the worst of times, have a blast shooting the curls. City-girl Nicole is excited to learn to surf, and in true type-A fashion, is over-confident in her newfound skill and ventures far enough out on the waves to nearly drown herself. She’s dragged back to shore and hauled off to the doctor with an apparent foot injury. Potential suitor Tim decides to accompany her, because it’s a lot easier to get into a girl’s pants when she’s hopped up on painkillers. It’s worth giving up a free meal. And as it turns out, Nicole’s injury is a plain old jellyfish sting, which any true California surf dude would ignore, rather than give up the chance to further ride the waves.
At Gladstone – which looks just like any run-of-the-mill restaurant – James solemnly proposes a toast to their fallen comrade and her loyal sidekick, while Surya pats himself on the back for leading Arrow to their second win. There’s more eye-rolling, and a pissed James tells the camera that Surya was lucky to be a part of the win, which was only pulled off by the efforts of the rest of the team.
Tim seals the deal
Back at the mansion, Tim & Nicole’s teammates decide to give the pair some alone-time at the pool. Not that it matters, because you know Derek is probably peeping through the hedge at them. Nicole is undeniably attractive in a red bikini, and Tim is overwhelmed by her hotness, and zeroes in for a kiss. Tim is positively goofy in confessional afterwards, admitting that he knows he should be focused on the game, but he’s so carried away by his attraction to Nicole he just couldn’t help himself. Nicole sighs and tells us that she figured that after six weeks, it would be OK to let Tim kiss her. Six weeks??? Wow…I’m not sure who’s the better business person here – Tim, with his dogged persistence in closing the deal? Or Nicole, who shows impeccable business sense by not giving away the milk for free?
Know Your Customer vs. Racial Profiling
Kinetic is deep in boardroom discussions, and Aimee is smacking down Jenn behind her back on camera (yep, just like Paris and Nicole). Aimee claims Jenn is responsible for not telling her about the Spanish-speaking mall demographic – plus, she’s pissed that her team, on the whole, let her down and didn’t provide any suggestions or ideas for the challenge. Obviously she has forgotten ALL about the pink octopus. Jenn, of course, claims she’s not responsible for the loss, and vows to make Aimee regret the decision to bring her into the boardroom.
Melania has finally picked up Donald’s dry-cleaning, it seems, because the pink tie is making its comeback. I have to admit, I’ve kind of missed it. Surya, as winning PM, is on Trump’s right, and Don Jr. takes up space on the left. Trump predictably lays into Aimee over her neglect to take into account the mall’s Spanish-speaking clientele, and Aimee just as predictably blames Jenn & Derek for neglecting to tell her about it. Derek speaks up and calls the “Spanish thing” a “red herring”, and blames the loss on Aimee’s management style. Angela, normally silent, agrees that Aimee was “confusing” as a leader, and that there was a problem in the way she delegated tasks. Kristine chimes in as well, and there’s some chatter about why Aimee didn’t try to hire any Spanish-speaking employees to assist Kinetic, as Derek & Muna were the only ones of any use in the kiosk. Aimee insists she had no knowledge of the ethnic demographic, and an eye-rolling Muna says she just had to walk through the food court to see the overwhelming Hispanic population.
After some hissing and spitting, and as Aimee angrily exlaims that her team is trying to “bury her”, Don Jr. comes riding to her rescue. He demands to know why Derek & Jenn neglected to inform their PM of the Spanish-speaking clientele, and when he doesn’t get a straight answer, Trump asks Aimee to pick who she’s bringing back to the boardroom. Not surprisingly, it’s Derek & Jenn, and the rest of Kinetic are banished back to the tents.
Before the trio re-enter the boardroom, Don Jr. opines that Derek and Jenn are the ones who dropped the ball in the task, but Surya won’t be pinned down and mutters something about the demographic being a big miss. Aimee, Derek & Jenn return and Trump is curious why no one seems to like Aimee. “Because she’s a sniveling sourpuss” probably isn’t a good answer, so Derek says it’s because she’s not assertive. There’s more argument about who’s to blame, and Aimee seals her fate by stating that she wasn’t paying attention to who was walking around the mall (no word on what was distracting her, but I’m guessing it was probably the sale at Kenneth Cole) and that it “wasn’t obvious” that the customers were mainly Hispanic. Plus, she says, it was a “non-issue”. Oh, in your politically correct world it’s not an issue, Aimee, but this is the Donald’s universe. Trump puts up with the bickering for a few more agonizing minutes, and gives a (mercifully) brief lecture on leadership. Finally, he states the obvious – Aimee’s just not a leader – and she’s fired.
Aimee, not surprisingly, is bitter, but she keeps quiet leaving the boardroom. As she climbs into the car, she mouths something – unfortunately out of the earshot of the audio techs – at Derek and Jenn, and Derek notes that “she’s pissed!”. Aimee’s farewell speech is full of self-righteous indignation – her teammates are a pack of liars, she could have won the task on her own, etc., etc. I’m thinking that she won’t be back on the team for the final 2 showdown.
Next week - will Tim and Nicole take their relationship to the next level? (There’s not six MORE weeks of this show, is there?) Will Surya stop congratulating himself? Will Derek finally be outed for the Peeping Tom that he is? And will Frank be barbecuing ribs or steaks for dinner? Mmmm…I’m keeping my fingers crossed for steak.
Banzai, baby! Call me when surf’s up. firstname.lastname@example.org