We all have the My Buddy Friend. You know – the guy who has the buddy that has done something to one-up whatever you’ve done. You graduated from Harvard? His buddy graduated with honors and found a cure for cancer. You drank a 24-pack of Bud Lite last night and lived to tell the tale? Well, his buddy drank a 24, did 12 Jager/Red Bull shots, and went to work the next morning. And then had a 4-martini lunch with important clients. This season on The Apprentice, we have Stephanie – a female force so powerful that she doesn’t require the help of a My Buddy Friend, ‘cause she does it all herself. Oh, you don’t think she has special powers? Wait till you hear what she’s doing now.
Let the creativity Flo
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Last week, we enjoyed the early skewering of cheater-cheater-poop-eater Anand, and the less surprising and much less enjoyable ouster of Blonde #2, Poppy. Brandy, by virtue of surviving another week, gets to be Blonde #1. Stephanie, though blonde, has eclipsed that kind of trivial viewer recognition. Plus, she doesn’t have a weird stripper/porn star first name.
So not surprisingly, Steph gets busy plotting how to get Liza voted off Trump Island. Because she really, really doesn’t like her. And Steph isn’t someone you want angry at you. Meanwhile, Clint reaps his reward as last week’s winning PM. It’s yet another sit-down chat with some faceless CEO of some boring corporation, but he does score a $5K gift card from Pier 1 for getting through it. That’ll buy a lotta scented candles and rattan furniture. Careful sitting in those flimsy chairs, big guy.
This week, Trump and a couple execs from AT&T and something called “Flo TV” – which is apparently some kinda new-fangled mobile TV network – are tasking the Apprenti to create a 30-second TV commercial for AT&T Mobile TV, which owns Flo TV’s ass. They’ll be judged on creativity, brand recognition, and delivery of a clear, concise message. Project managers will be Stephanie for Fortitude (which is now consists of Steph and Liza) and Steuart for Octane (Stu, Clint, and Brandy).
Fortitude – It’s all about location, location, location
Hey, did you know that Stephanie has experience in TV advertising? Did you doubt it for even 5 minutes? What else did you expect her to do in her downtime when she wasn’t studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music, earning a degree from McGill, working as a banker, and forming non-profit organizations? I bet she could drink y’all under the table, too. Steph’s brilliant concept for the ad is to show people watching TV to escape reality. Because, you know, nobody actually does that. Liza meekly puts forward a different idea, and is duly ignored by Steph, who only requires Liza’s secretarial services during this task.
Like most secretaries, though, Liza is saddled with responsibilities that stretch way beyond “menial”. First up is to find locations for the shoot, which is apparently impossible. While Steph meets with their photographer/director (who, by the way, is sneering, supercilious, and the biggest freakin’ douchebag I’ve seen this season who could give Trump himself a run for his ego) Liza anxiously calls around looking for an office space. There’s none available in New York, alas. Idea #2, a scene in a sports stadium, also proves beyond Liza’s powers of persuasion. Steph runs around the room a bit, drags a table to the center and deems it a passable alternative to an actual office set. Their director watches the activity with the corner of his lip lifted and the look of someone who is smelling something really bad. He sniffs that the shoot is like “a high school version of film school”. Interesting words from someone who’s reached the stunning heights of directing a fake commercial for a fast-dying reality franchise. I guess Scorcese can relax knowing who his competition isn’t.
Steph decides to use a cheap-looking backdrop instead of a real stadium for her sports-arena shoot. Don Jr. arrives to check in just as Liza breathlessly enters, hauling a couple garbage bags with the scene’s props. Steph, along with Jr., is horrified to see said props, consisting of a couple baseball jerseys and caps. Liza must have spent at least 20 minutes rifling through the Goodwill bin to score those. Steph, who’s even better at self-denial as she is good at everything else, keeps her chin up and teeth gritted even though the whole thing has dissolved into the finest kind of train-wreckery. The sports scene looks so bad it’s discarded, and they go with a rather weird office scene where some tool is watching a sports event on his mobile phone during a meeting.
At presentation time, Steph is good enough to make Trump and the execs actually believe for a minute the spot isn’t as crappy as it really is. Steph is confident as ever that her
brilliant concept and executionBS abilities were good enough to pull off a win.
Octane – Not ready for prime-time
Stu quickly starts delegating tasks – Brandy will be in charge of the presentation (even though she sucked a the last one she did), Clint will handle creativity, and Stu will take care of editing. Clint wants the ad to be clean, because Flo TV is family-orientated. Dude, just because the show is called “Family Guy” and animated, doesn’t make it “family-orientated”. You might have wanted to take a gander at the company’s website, which features that particular animated program on their front page. Clint’s second great idea is to feature a guy who is the only one around who doesn’t have the advantage of mobile TV on their phone. A depressed Stu, realizing the task is beyond his handsomeness, capitulates although even he can see how lame the concept is.
Clint’s not finished yet – he casts himself as the main character in the ad. I guess he’s convinced himself that he makes good TV. He does have the good sense to include an AT&T store as one of the shoot’s locations, though. Ivanka happens to wander by as they’re shooting the storefront scene, and is concerned that Stu is leaning too heavily on Clint. Well, Clint is sturdy enough to take Stu’s weight, at that. She doesn’t speak with Brandy, who continues to be marginalized and therefore safe from boardroom reprisals.
In the editing room, Stu isn’t confident with the finished product, Clint is impatient with Stu’s mamby-pamby attitude, and Brandy assumes the role of amused bystander. Their eventual presentation falls short – the ad is cheesy as hell, Clint is possibly the worst actor ever, and Brandy once again stutters through her spiel, annoying Trump enough for him to interrupt and demand why she didn’t memorize her lines. Good point, seeing as she certainly had enough time to do so. But snickering at the boys must have been too distracting.
The biggest loser
At boardroom, both PMs fake confidence and love for their teammates. Stu has the temerity to claim that Brandy did a great job on presentation – Trump isn’t on board with that assessment but goes easy on his pet blonde. Jr. says the execs liked Fortitude’s “energy” and production (wow, Steph IS good) but didn’t like the concept, nor the late introduction of the product and company name. Dad chimes in that the office setting was sucktacular as well. Ivanka – looking very lovely this week in loose curls and a low-cut black dress offset by an elaborate many-stranded necklace – says Octane earned props for branding, creativity, and location, but lost points for the campy ad and inconsistent brand messaging. Whatever that means. It wasn’t as bad at what Fortitude did wrong, anyway, and Octane walks away with another win.
As expected, Steph swings into full defense mode, laying fault with Liza’s pitiful attempts at securing a location and failure to produce decent props and backdrops. Ivanka seemingly backs Steph, complaining that Liza is too under-the-radar during tasks and is the only non-winning PM. Jr. takes Sis’s side and adds that Liza isn’t a big contributor as a teammate. Liza gets her back up and claims the loss was due to Steph’s weak concept. Steph counters that she couldn’t go with her other idea because Liza couldn’t get her act together on the props. Trump keeps interrupting to ask Steph why she didn’t use the table in the room as a kitchen table and put food on it, creating a tableau of a family having dinner and watching mobile TV. Um, because it’s just as dumb as the office setting? Steph – who is Canadian, after all – has the manners not to say so, though.
Steph looks already resigned to the inevitable by the time Trump pronounces her fired, though he takes some parting shots at Liza as she scurries out behind Steph. However, Steph gets the last laugh – her chutzpah impressed Trump more than he let on, because girlfriend has since scored a job as the spokesperson for the “Trump Brand”. And secures a place as the first losing Apprentice in history who got a friggin’ job with Trump anyway. The moral of the story, future corporate raiders? You don’t have to be good at anything. Just make ‘em believe that you are. Or just marry into money and spend the rest of your life in secluded wealth. Now there’s a worthy prize for a winning PM – a meet ‘n’ greet with Ivana Trump. Or Marla Maples. Or Melania Knauss.