Donald Trump and Gene Simmons are a lot alike. They both have grandiose egos, gorgeous wives, kids that are a lot nicer, better-looking, and possibly even smarter than themselves, and hair stylists that are either blind or have a penchant for Chia Pets. Another thing that they share is a common genius for making money and the ability to sell themselves. A couple of pretty ruthless characters, Donald and Gene are. Kind of hard to like at times, but we often have at least a grudging admiration for their ability to get things done. We already know Trump considers himself a pretty good judge of character, so how come he’s letting a celebrentice who’s bent on upstaging him and manages to insult both the Trump princess and his teammates in a single task, stick around? Isn’t this The Hair’s show, after all? Who’s zoomin’ who here, Donald?
Currently available for adoption:
This week opens with Omarosa and former supermodel Carol Alt renewing their “pact” to leave their differences in the boardroom. It’s obvious that these two barracudas aren’t about to become BFFs – this pact of theirs is pure strategy. The devil does wear Prada, after all. As they enter the “war room” and greet the other teams, the women mention that they’ve agreed to leave their differences in the boardroom. Piers Morgan, who’s looking like’s had a few too many gin & tonics, sneers derisively, and Omarosa immediately goes on the attack about how Piers reeks of booze and his poor grooming habits. Piers – who’s built his career on sleazy tabloid journalism (“News Of The World”, anyone?) – has an oddly inflated perception of his business acumen and celebrity (or maybe it’s just the gin & tonics). He sniffs in confessional that O has no idea that she’s “mixing it with the big boys now”, and refers to her as a “gobby, self-confident creature”. Now, I don’t like Piers, but I’m always on the lookout for new adjectives. I have the feeling that “gobby” could pretty much describe at least ¾ of this group of celebrentices.
There’s a brief clip of Stephen Baldwin presenting his mom & sister with the $69K cheque raised during last week’s hot dog task – Stephen’s mom is touchingly grateful for the donation to her charity (The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund), and we’re all pretty grateful that this season’s proceeds are going towards worthy causes instead of The Donald’s pocket.
The teams assemble for their second audience with Trump, whose entourage this week includes daughter Ivanka, some guy named Terry who’s the head of (department store) Macy’s, and Rob, an exec from Pedigree Pet Food. Trump jovially asks the group who likes animals. There’s little response except from ultimate fighter Tito Ortiz, who admits to liking cats, and champion boxer Lennox Lewis, who prefers canines. February is Pet Adoption Month, and Pedigree sponsors the Pedigree Adoption Drive, which apparently is meant to encourage people to adopt a dog. The teams’ task is to direct and film a 30-second TV ad for the adoption drive, which should be a no-brainer for people who are so involved in the entertainment industry, right? Yeah, you’d think so. Trump throws a little monkey wrench into the challenge this week, demanding that the teams choose Project Managers on the spot. After some brief discussion, women’s team Empresario nominates TV producer Nelly Galan, while Hydra goes with rock star Gene Simmons. Trump gets some digs in at Hydra’s new PM, telling the execs that “this one is a real character” (takes one to know one, Don) and asks Gene if he’s been hitting on his teammates. Presumably he means the female members of Empresario, and not Vinny Pastore. In confessional, Gene, hidden as always behind dark glasses, says he’s ruthless – no big surprise there – and that he’d “fire anyone – I’ll even fire Trump”. And for that, Gene, we viewers of the past five Apprentice seasons would thank you.
Ivanka feels the teeth of the Hydra upon her
At Empresario, Nelly engages the team into a little New Age work challenge, asking them to hold hands and imagine white lights, then imagine themselves being animals. Omarosa declines to participate and in confessional calls Nelly’s actions “existential bull****”. Suddenly, I’m starting to see what Trump sees in Omarosa. Besides ratings. Empresario troops out to visit with Pedigree exec Rob, who is adorably earnest in his wish for the campaign’s success. He tells the women that what’s needed are “dog stories”. I figured he meant stories about dogs, not stories told by dogs, didn’t you?
Meanwhile, Gene is taking a somewhat more dictatorial approach with Hydra. Any BS, existential or otherwise, is non-existent at the Hydra camp. He tells the team that they’re to head directly to the production studio, as he feels that meeting the Pedigree executives is a waste of time. Piers, seemingly not quite ready to mix it up with the big boys himself, feebly notes that deciding the concept is the most important thing. Rather creepily, his concept is one that includes Lennox in the nude. Although Lennox is a guy who makes his living dressed only in shorts and boxing gloves, he looks completely skeeved out at the notion. Some other ideas are shouted out, but Stephen’s vision of Lennox (fully dressed) holding a cute puppy is the winner. Gene agrees to let Stephen direct, and as more detailed discussions get under way, Ivanka arrives. Never one to let an opportunity slip, Gene leers at and flirts with the Trump heiress. (Who is looking pretty, um, “buxom” this season. Just saying.) Gene – forgetting that if you say something that makes you sound like a tool, no matter how charmingly you say it, it still makes you a tool - smiles sweetly and asks Ivanka if she’s going to dish to her “sisters” on the other team about what Hydra’s up to, and asks her to leave. Now, Ivanka has a nice figure and lots of shiny blonde hair like Gene’s own significant other, but Ivanka lacks the sense of humor necessary to deal with a self-absorbed womanizing rock star. She’s rendered speechless by Gene’s impertinence, and takes her leave, but fumes in confessional about how rude he is. Don’t fret, Ivanka, I have a feeling that once he gets home, Shannon and her sister are going to kick his ass on your behalf.
The Demon plays God
Hydra has begun filming, and their ad does indeed feature Lennox – a very good-looking man for someone who must have sustained an awful lot of blows to the head – cuddling an utterly adorable white bulldog. Gene, Lennox and Stephen all coo over the pup, who’s so darn appealing that I’m ready to call up Pedigree and adopt him myself. Stephen decides to take the filming outdoors so as to get some shots of Lennox walking the dog, but the attempt turns into a street melee as traffic stops to gawk at the film crews, while Hydra desperately tries to hold the crowds back. Gene tells Stephen to get everyone back inside, and the dog-walking shot is abandoned.
At Empresario, Omarosa has decided that for this particular task, her strategy for not being fired is to do as little as possible. Oh, right, now I remember why I don’t like her that much. Plus, she’s wearing a ridiculous-looking hat. PM Nelly, obviously not a woman who likes to relinquish control, takes over directing the actors and complains about how former Olympian Nadia Comaneci is ineffective. Nadia, at least, orders some food for the cast while Omarosa hides behind her hat. No one else besides Marilu Henner appears to be doing much – Marilu has volunteered to coach the ad’s actors, and isn’t happy with the actress on set. Although it’s been so long since Marilu was a working actress, maybe she’s forgotten how it’s done.
Meanwhile, Hydra has progressed to the editing room, where silken-voiced country singer Trace Adkins is doing the ad’s voice-over. Trace’s speaking voice is simply gorgeous, and an impressed Gene comments that Trace “sounded like the voice of God.” Gene wastes no time in reminding everyone who God is in the editing room, however, and summarily throws the entire team out of the editing room save for Stephen and himself. Gene feels that having everyone in the room will waste time they don’t have, and while he’s probably right – without everyone weighing in, the editing will get done much faster – but his czar-like command rubs his teammates the wrong way.
Tito and Omarosa foam at the mouth
Empresario has made it to editing, and some of the women are aesthetically displeased with one of the canine stars of their ad. Not because he couldn’t take direction from Marilu, but because the dog in question is a large, drooly St. Bernard. Omarosa turns her nose up and asks disdainfully if they couldn’t use an “alternate” dog – “without foam”. Several members pipe up, reminding the dissenters about Beethoven (a semi-successful dog movie franchise that featured a St. Bernard), but apparently it’s too late to do anything about the dog’s foam-flecked muzzle. Maybe they could have photoshopped in a bib? It’s also decided that although Marilu appears in person in the original film, she’s to be demoted to voiceover status in the edited version. Ivanka, possibly still smarting from Gene’s impudence, forgoes a visit to her “sisters” in favor of her dad and Macy’s guy Terry. The boss’s visit seems somewhat pointless, as Nelly simply explains her ad’s concept as Donald and Terry nod wisely.
In the Hydra editing room, Gene and Stephen are enormously pleased with both Trace’s voiceover performance and themselves. In the war room, however, Tito is frothing. He’s furious at being banished from the editing process, and angrily lists his business accomplishments as proof that the team would be better served if he was opinionating on the finished ad. An angry Tito is a scary Tito, and the other Hydra members obediently follow him as he defiantly marches back to the editing room. Tito is no match for
SatanGene, though – Stephen sputters huffily when he sees the group return, but Gene looms into view and casts a black magic spellconvinces everyone to leave once again. Once out of the room, however, Tito continues to complain to the team that he doesn’t trust Gene.
Bad dog, Gene!
It’s presentation time, and Empresario leads things off with the women donning yellow and black outfits (which presumably are Pedigree colors) and Nelly attempting to sell the dog food execs an additional internet ad and radio spot. Trump and the execs look taken aback, and Donald grouses at Nelly to please get on with the commercial. At this point, we only see bits of the ad, which oddly enough is told from the point of view of the dog. We really don’t see enough to judge, and Trump gruffly congratulates them on doing a really good job.
Next up is Hydra, and Gene is satanically majestic in his now-familiar black-tinted glasses and black pinstripes with a red rose fastened to his lapel. He gives an odd little speech about how he used “The Art of War” (borrowed from last season’s Survivor, perhaps) to formulate his strategy, and after Trump jeers at him, grins evilly and asks to be judged by “what’s on the screen”. Again, we see very little, but do get to hear Trace’s wonderful voice, and see a clip of Lennox with his new friend. After Hydra exits, Pedigree exec Rob excitedly tells Trump that though he thought both ads were good, he loved one of them. The teams are shown chatting amongst themselves, some with having regrets – Nadia worries that they should have used one of their celebrities in the ad – while Gene stands by his decision not to meet with the Pedigree execs prior to shooting the ad. Someone’s going to get bitten, but who?
Time for the initial boardroom, and Trump immediately goes on the offensive with Gene as his target. Donald complains that the earnest young Rob from Pedigree felt “slighted” when Hydra declined to consult him, and Ivanka chimes in that she wasn’t pleased with Gene’s attitude either. Trump, feigning outrage, asks Gene if he insulted his daughter. Likely expecting to face the music for ousting Ivanka from the production studio, Gene removes his glasses and apologizes to Ivanka. Ivanka, apparently mollified, drops the matter and Trump decides to play both ads in full. He starts with Empresario’s, which is worse than the brief clip we saw earlier indicated. The ad features three dogs (including the offending St. Bernard) and voiceover actors who speak in the “dog’s voice”, with each vignette ending with the tag line, “I’m a good dog!”. And this was the brainchild of someone who’s an actual TV producer. Gene and Stephen slyly swipe each other’s palm during the airing, and Trump asks them if they think their ad is better. Gene smirks and says he’s convinced of it, and sure enough, it is. The Hydra ad is played, and although it’s not incredibly original, it does have a cuter dog, a cuter guy, and Trace’s marvelous and compelling voiceover performance. Omarosa breaks out in giggles, and I’m expecting a snarky remark, but none is forthcoming – rather, O is smitten with the handsome boxer and liked the contrast of the “big tough guy with the dog”.
Macy’s guy Terry weighs in with some critique about how Empresario should have used Marilu’s face as well as voice in their ad, and also tell Hydra that they should have added a caption with Lennox’s name for recognition. Piers squawks that Lennox is easily recognizable, but Terry disagrees. For the record and as a member of the general public – though I know Lennox’s name and who he is, I wouldn’t have recognized his face either.
Finally, Hydra is declared the winner of the task. There’s no mention of any cash prize to donate to Gene’s charity – Trump only says that he agrees with Pedigree’s decision, and adds that he loved Trace’s voiceover effort.
It’s all about dogs, but there’s not a bitch in the room
The men again are off to their war room to view Empresario’s boardroom smackdown. Trump starts off by criticizing the voiceovers in Empresario’s ad, and Marilu speaks up to admit that she was in charge of the actors. Trump reiterates that he preferred Hydra’s ad and praises Lennox’s performance, causing the men to cheer. Nelly admits that she got a little carried away at the presentation, and was guilty of perhaps being too ambitious by offering up internet and radio ads as well as the television spot. Softball player Jennie Finch is given some airtime, and Trump asks her who she would fire. There’s a long silence, and Jennie finally says that she would choose Nadia or Carol. It’s not clear what possible reason there would be to fire Carol, and she’s given the next opportunity to speak, stating she would fire Nadia. Nelly ultimately chooses Nadia and Carol to accompany her to the final boardroom, and after the women depart, Ivanka and Terry both agree that Nadia or Nelly should be the next celebrentice to be fired.
At the final boardroom, Trump asks Nelly if she’s “embarrassed” by her loss, considering that she’s a TV executive. Ivanka complains that Nelly isn’t giving them any reason to NOT fire her, and Donald counters by saying there’s no reason to fire Carol. Thus saved, Carol smiles and wisely keeps her mouth shut for the remainder of the session. Nadia claims that the team “went in the wrong direction” and says Nelly is to blame, and though she adds that she thought the women should have used a recognizable celebrity, she didn’t bring it up until after the presentation. Trump then asks Nadia if she would have wanted to lead on this task – she hesitates and admits she would have preferred an “athletic task”. Possibly it’s the language barrier, but Nadia continues to stumble as she tries to defend herself, and it’s enough for Trump – he doesn’t see her as a leader, and though he amply praises her ability and competitiveness, Nadia is fired.
The women all hug, and Nelly even wipes away tears as she exits. Nadia is philosophical about her ouster, saying that she thought she could have been a good asset, but it’s good that so many good causes will benefit from the competition.
Next week – well, my NBC affiliate doesn’t give me the previews, so we’re all in for a surprise! You’re also in for a treat, as the wonderful and witty SueEllenMishke takes over recapping duties. I’m off to adopt a puppy. And maybe name him Lennox.
Who’s the most gobby celebrentice? PM me.