Greetings, Trump watchers! Salutations, recap-only readers! I’m filling in for AJane for this week’s installment of The Apprentice; I’m not making any promises of the accuracy of this rumor, but last I heard, AJane was busy sharpening Vince McMahon’s hair clippers in advance of the WWE match. We can only hope that the wrestling is exciting, because tonight’s installment of Trump Tie Watch 2007 did not incorporate enough choke-holds and chair bashings as one would desire.
Bitterness and Ennui.
We first catch up with Derek and Jenn, right as Aimee is storming off to the car that awaits to carry her away from the Trump Mansion. She turns to look at Derek and Jenn and shoots them daggers; Derek describes it as the “eyes of death” and like the kid in The Omen, but since I’ve never seen that movie, I’ll have to take his word for it. Derek is pleased as punch that Aimee got sent home, as he thinks she was a part of the riff-raff on Kinetic that was holding them back. The other riff-raffian person on the team, in his opinion, is Jenn. When she volunteers to be the next PM, Derek is more than happy to hear it, knowing that it will be the golden opportunity to get her booted as well. Of course, this presupposes that Kinetic will lose the task, something Derek doesn’t mention. Playing to lose is the best strategy, I’m sure, as it’s worked in every other season.
Arrow is equally discontented. Well, everyone but Surya is not happy. The guys on the team all sit around like a knitting circle, deciding how to stage a coup against Surya. They’re tired of him taking the credit for the wins. Frank is the most vocal about getting Surya removed if the opportunity presents itself, but James voices caution, and worries that the plan may backfire.
The Standard Car Marketing Task.
If you’ve watched this show as long as it’s been on, you can bet, dollars to doughnuts, that there is going to be a task involving marketing of a car. Tonight is that task, and the only refreshing thing about this iteration of the task is that it was not girls-versus-guys, with the guys proclaiming they’d be a shoo-in for victory and then failing miserably. No, that tired saw is not played out tonight. What we have instead is the two teams meeting Trump’s limo on Rodeo Drive, as the locale epitomizes the concept of luxury. In the limo with Trump are Randal, of Season 4 fame, who is sitting in for Ivanka, and two executives from Lexus. Trump, Burnett, et al. are too cheap to run the chyron machine, so I’m guessing on the spelling here, but it sounded like we were introduced to Debra Meyer, the VP of Marketing for Lexus and Anne Bybee, the Corporate Manager for Advertising and Brand Strategy at Lexus. They tell the teams that they are each to put on an event for preferred customers to introduce them to the new LS460. (This is the Lexus that can parallel park itself.) Trump emphasizes that the task is all about luxury and conveying the luxurious nature of the car. Each team has a large chunk of change--$50,000—to put on the event as well as access to the Lexus people to learn all about the car.
I See Dead People.
Kinetic is having a team meeting somewhere in what appears to be a Lexus dealership. They’ve come up with a theme for their car presentation event: The Sixth Sense of Luxury. But that’s about all they’ve come up with, and I’m not sure what kind of message that really sends. Angela is supposed to be coming up with marketing ideas, but she’s stuttering more than a drunk Elmer Fudd. Derek tells us that they’ve been meeting for three hours and have gotten no where, so he starts throwing out ideas. He suggests having a tarot card reader, a magician, and go carts for a driving experience. Jenn loves the go cart idea, but Kristine hates it, pointing out that go carts are not luxurious. Jenn shoots her down, and goes with the go cart idea. Then Heidi and Muna split off from the group to meet with a car engineer to go over the details of the new LS460. They want to be completely thorough, as they are in charge of getting the information on the car, so they painstakingly go through each gizmo in the car, which drives the design engineer a bit batty.
Arrow is also brainstorming its approach to the event, and Nicole comes up with the theme statement of “Brining Luxury to a New Level”. What new level this is cannot be quantitatively analyzed, but Surya is busy scribbling all manner of crap on a white board. James has had it with Surya’s constant writing, and points out it has no purpose. Surya says it is to let everyone know what part they have to do in the task. He’s so busy writing, he doesn’t realize that the other team members have assigned themselves duties and are taking care of business. Stefani says it was just easier to let Surya occupy himself with the white board than to actually have him involved in the task. She and Frank set about organizing the food, the presentations, and the general event planning. Tim and Nicole, being ever-so lovey-dovey, try to learn about the car and get “product knowledge.”
The Red Herrings Come Out to Swim.
Trouble is afoot at both teams. Kinetic is having issues with the signs it is suppose to be having made for the event. More specifically, Derek and Angela are meeting with the graphic designer and he’s given them a 9 pm deadline to get their act together, or he can’t guaranty production on time. Of course, they miss the deadline. Angela wanted a bunch of changes, but, on the other hand, Derek didn’t get his designs to her until 8 pm. Sure enough, the next day only four signs are ready—half the amount they wanted—and Derek is angry with Angela. Blame, no doubt, will soon be spread like butter on warm toast.
Arrow, meanwhile, has its own set of problems. Tim and Nicole are snuggling under a blanket, not doing whatever it is they are supposed to be doing. Stefani and Frank end up leaving the others back at the house on the morning of the event so they can get things set up early. Surya voices concern that he’s the PM and doesn’t know what’s going on with the event planning. Meanwhile, Stefani tells us that she will be more than happy to take the credit for the event planning if they win, but if they lose, she’s going to lay the loss at Surya’s feet, since he has not involved himself in anything. She, in fact, threatens to crush Surya, and I’m pretty sure she’d be able to do it.
Guests start arriving at each of the venues. Surya addresses the crowd, and does a pretty good job of being brief in the introduction. The preferred customers skew toward the retired and affluent, and they explore the cars and new features. Unfortunately, during the course of showing off some of the features, the display car’s battery dies, rendering it useless . There are other cars, however, as Arrow has set up a test course which allows the patrons to give the automated parking a try.
Kinetic has taken a different approach. Jenn was supposed to present a long-ish talk on the car and the features, but stumbles through it. She flatly says in an interview that she wasn’t prepared, but she also tries to put some of the blame on the fact she couldn’t see the flat screen display due to glare. After the painful presentation is over, the preferred customers get a shot at riding in slow, sad go-carts and/or experiencing an illusionist so lame he made Gob Bluth look like a freakin’ genius.
A Foregone Conclusion.
What team has (1) a teammate planning to lose from the start; (2) not done anything right; (3) had a presentation go over like a lead balloon and (4) been less than luxurious? Yeah, like anyone would doubt who won this task. The teams file into the boardroom to hear the verdict read by Randal. He tells Arrow that the customers commented that the presentation was very original and they loved it, giving the team an overall rating of 94. Arrow is ecstatic at this news and let out a big cheer. Trump cautions them that they haven’t won yet. Randal continues that the customer surveys concerning the Kinetic presentation said that the event sent a mixed message and the go carts did not match up with the luxurious nature of the Lexus. (Now, have you all gotten that—Lexuses are Luxurious!!!!! Makes me want to buy an Acura out of spite.) Kinetic scored only a lousy 84 points, so Arrow wins the day. As their reward, Trump sends Arrow to hang out with Snoop Dogg and record a song. Trump says Snoop is a very good friend of his, and a very tough businessman. Fo shizzle. (I kid you not—The Donald said “fo shizzle.”)
Mute Button: My Salvation
Arrow heads off to The Pass to have a day of recording with Snoop. Surya is super-excited, saying he’s been a fan of Snoop Dogg since he was ten years old. Surya makes me feel old, since I was in college when Doggystlye came out. And it makes me wonder if his parents knew what he was listening to. Despite Surya’s claim to love Snoop, it is Frank and James who take to “freestylin’” a.k.a. making even bigger asses out of themselves on national television. I hoped for a cross-over promotion, and have the Rappin’ Granny from America’s Got Talent come in and give a couple of lessons, but no luck. Somehow or another, Snoop makes it through the day without laughing in these folks’ face, and a song gets mixed and produced. Not a good song, but a song nonetheless. Nicole has the ability to say to the camera, with a straight face, that the song embodies the passion that the team has for the task. Methinks Nicole is unaware of the actual definition of “passion” and/or needs her hearing checked.
The Return of the Pink Tie
Prior to the boardroom showdown, Derek tries to marshal the ladies of team Kinetic against Jenn. We’ve known since the start of the hour he’s wanted her gone, so he plots and schemes against her. Jenn, however, wants to shift the blame to Angela, as she was in charge of the creative aspects of the challenge. Meanwhile, the two Lexus executives meet with Trump and single out Muna and Heidi as the best two on the task from Kinetic.
Finally it is time for the real action to begin. The losers all file into the house and are seated in the Boardroom of Doom, and out comes Trump in his bright pink tie. Earlier he had on a blue one and then an orange sherbet colored on, but the pink one is back, so we know he means business. He starts off asking Jenn why they lost, and she is surprised that they did lose, given that they put in so much work on the project. Trump points out that the signs were inadequate and the theme was terrible; Jenn lets it be known that Angela and Derek were in charge of the signs. Derek claims they only had five hours to do the signs, and that simply was not enough time. He says the working conditions were terrible and that there was no clear statement from the “creative team.” The “creative team,” as it turns out, was Angela. Randal jumps in and asks if they thought the go carts conveyed a sense of luxury. Jenn says that the go cart idea was Derek’s, at which he scoffs. Derek says he threw that idea out after no one had any other ideas. Trump again hammers home that the go carts are not luxurious, and Derek responds by saying he is not the Lexus target customer, but is white trash. This was the absolute wrong thing to say, as Trump latches on to the phrase and will not let go. He berates Derek for using such a nasty term, and as Derek tries to back pedal and claim he was joking, Trump does not buy it. He fires Derek, saying that he’d never want anyone who willingly called himself white trash to work for him. On his way out, Derek says he didn’t keep quite like he’d planned to in the boardroom and it got him in trouble. He decided to go down swinging, even though he knew it was a lost cause. Derek seemed less than bitter about leaving; maybe he was ready to get far away from The Hair.
Firing the Real Failure.
Trump is not satisfied at firing just Derek. He wants to get the person responsible for the colossal screw-up of an event. He points out to Heidi that she has fallen a long way from having a winning record, but Randal jumps in and saves both Heidi and Muna, by stating that they were the only two who did their task well, and they really learned about the car. Randal then takes over the questioning and gets both Muna and Heidi to admit that the loss was Jenn’s fault, based on a failure to convey the theme and the messed up presentation. Jenn wants to deflect the loss to the “creative team”, and finds that harder to do with Derek out of the room. Jenn argues that she approved the go cart idea because Angela didn’t come up with another idea and they needed something fun at the event. Randal tries to fire off more questions, but Trump has grown tired of his non-winner protégé making a better argument than he does, so he essentially tells Randal to shut up. At first it looks like he’s going to let Jenn bring back a couple of people to the boardroom, but then decides to short-circuit the process. He tells her that she’s a bad manager and her teammates don’t respect her. Jenn, in a fairly bold move, asks to clarify that last point before he fires her. Her teammates agree; they do respect and like her. Trump amends his firing language and tells her she’s still a bad manager, and fires her. Jenn takes the firing well, and encourages the remaining four women to do well. They all come out to say goodbye to her as she gets in the car to be driven off. They are all still shocked Derek got fired in the way he did. Curiously, Derek is no where to be seen. He’s probably still wandering Tent City looking for a ride.