Okay, I’ll get right to the point. I’m off my game today. No, it isn’t that I’m suffering writer’s block. Nor is it that I’m just not back into the swing of things after two weeks off watching “Finding Nemo” over and over again with the kids. I wish that was all it was. You see, I’m sick. No, I don’t mean in the twisted, perverted sense. I mean in the I-can’t-stop-coughing-and-I’m-on-intibiotics-for-a-nasty-sinus-infection sick. And, being a guy, I don’t do well when I’m not feeling well. I want chicken-noodle soup. I want to lay in bed and watch TV. And yes, I want my blanky. Why am I telling you this? For sympathy? Maybe a little. But my primary motivation is to set your expectations. I want you to realize that what you’re about to read was put together through a haze of Nyquil and Amoxicillin, and probably isn’t going to be very funny. I don’t want you expecting this recap to be chock-full of witticisms and snappy repartee. You realize what happens when expectations are set too high, don’t you? That’s right. That’s what I’m trying to avoid here. I don’t want anyone reading this, coming to the end, and saying “You know, for a clownfish, he’s not that funny.”
We open this week as we open every week, with the candidates discussing who they think will return. Or who they think was fired, it’s hard to tell this week, really. Either way, Heidi seems to be the one in their minds. Troy returns triumphantly, and everyone appears happy about it. T-Roy tells them that he told Trump “Ultimately this is a job interview & everybody sucks & I’m the best.” Troy, my country friend, that sounded much less vulgar when you said it than when I wrote it.
The next morning we’re treated to shots of Bill, Nick, and Amy all in towels. The men are shaving and the lovely lass from Texas is getting some coffee. This show is helping me discover that either I’m out of touch, or these people traipse around in towels or boxers far more than your average bear. The phone rings, and Kwame (who thankfully had the decency to put on some pants) answers. It’s Rona from Mr. Trump’s office. “He asked me to call you and have you meet him downstairs in the lobby by the waterfall in an hour.” There are two reasons for Rona’s camera time. The first is to give a reason for New York’s favorite self-promoter to talk about his waterfall. The second is so we can all get a nice look at the framed newspaper article on the wall next to Rona. There’s a picture of Trump which is dwarfed by the enormous headline that proclaims – no screams – “Master of the Universe.” In my cold-medicine-induced fog (and by the way, is it just me or am I really overusing hyphens this week?) my first thought was that Trump looks nothing like He-Man, nor does he resemble Man-At-Arms (okay, I’m pretty sure his name is hyphenated, so you have to cut me some slack.) Sadly, those are the only members of the show I can remember other than Skeletor and Evilyn, and they weren’t Masters of the Universe, they were bad guys.
The group assembles in front of the waterfall in the lobby of Trump Tower. Trump, Carolyn, and this slick, mustachioed guy show up. Donald tells us that George is out on business this week, and introduces us to Mark Brown, who runs Trump’s Atlantic City Hotels. He looks the type, except if he was running a Vegas hotel, he’d have a better tan.
You’d Think It Was Niagra Falls
The first order of business is to even out the teams, as Troy and Kwame are the only remaining members of the once proud Protégé Corporation. They select Bill, and Trump quickly asks why they didn’t choose Amy. Troy says it’s because she’s had enough kudos as it is. Trump then gives us a lengthy story about the six-story waterfall in Trump Tower, and how people come from all over the world to see it and shop in the shops and eat in the restaurants in Trump Tower. Show of hands – how many of you even knew there was a six-story waterfall in the lobby (and apparently the five floors above it) of Trump Tower? And given that this incredible Wonder of the Modern World is now known to you, how many of you are already changing your Summer vacation plans to head to Manhattan so you can gaze at the waterfall and ponder it’s magnificence? Yeah, me neither.
The Donald goes on to tell us that the Trump Taj Mahal is the #1 hotel in Atlantic City, but he always felt it should do better. No surprise, since it’s rumored that the TTM is hemorrhaging cash and is the greatest source of dept in the Trump Financial Empire. This week’s contest will be to come up with a promotion to bring in and register gamblers inside the Trump Taj Mahal. The team whose gamblers spend the most money in the casino will be declared the winner.
Now that Versacorp is down to Amy, Nick, and Katrina, the latter looks a bit uncomfortable. Clearly, she knows that Amy and Nick have been flirting a lot, and that means that no matter what, if Versacorp loses, it is very likely that she’ll be making a trip to the boardroom.
Bill informs us that he was shocked that he was picked to join Protégé. He feels that he and Troy have completely opposite styles, and he doesn’t like the way Troy does business. Apparently Bill is still sulking a little over the apartment rental loss several weeks back.
The two teams pile into a huge bus and settle back for the ride to Atlantic City. Well, Versacorp settles in; they sit in the front of the bus and promptly go to sleep. Kwame has his Protégé folks working; they brainstorm ideas for fifteen minutes, then start making phone calls and setting up appointments.
Entertainment Is Fun?
We’re shown majestic views of the neon lights of Trump Taj Mahal. I’m guessing that the ostentatious trumpet fanfare was meant to make us associate words like “Phenomenal” with the establishment. I’m sorry, but no matter how hard I try, it’s still New Jersey to me.
Tough guy Mark Brown (oh, I forgot to mention, Trump told us he’s tough so it must be true) walks the teams through the casino. “What the customer always wants is to have a great time, ‘cause this is entertainment.” Wow, thanks for the words of wisdom, Mr. Brown. To think I’ve had it wrong all these years; whenever I’ve gone to a casino all I’ve ever wanted was to lose all my money to a straight-flush on the river and wake up with a raging hangover.
Bill tells us that quantity of gamblers isn’t what will win this contest; it’s quality, which is why he’ll be making a major push to get high-rollers to register with Protégé. Between that comment and Mr. Brown’s brilliant observation that customers just want to have fun (and man do I hope that little sound bite doesn’t start a Cyndi Lauper revival), I feel like I’m being beaten about the head with The Obvious.
They Try Harder
Safely tucked into a hotel room, Versacorp finally gets about the task of brainstorming ideas. Katrina thinks big, suggesting they use belly dancers or tigers to attract gamblers. Amy and Nick are not impressed. Finally she offers up an idea that is more along their line of thinking; a car. Amy takes the idea and runs with it – in the wrong direction. As project manager, she decides that they will offer up a $300 car rental to attract gamblers to register with them. Not to sound like a casino junky or anything, but I’ve been in my share of them. They never offer rentals in promotions – the offer you the chance to win the car. For keeps, not for the weekend. I’m thinking that Amy isn’t thinking big enough. And I’m not only saying that because I’ve watched the entire show. I’m also saying it for foreshadowing purposes.
Not possessing the benefit of my foreshadowing commentary, the show’s editor decides to go with a comment from Katrina. She tells us that Amy shot down all her ideas, and if they lose this competition, Amy needs to be held accountable. I can feel the tension mounting. Wait, no I can’t. I’ve got so much Nyquil in me I couldn’t feel tension if someone strapped me to a rack.
It Just Isn’t A Wheel Without Vanna
Things are going much more smoothly over at Protégé. Troy has tracked down an old used prize wheel in the casino. He tells us that getting that wheel saved them time and money, and that it was “the wheel of our dreams.” I don’t know about you, but the only wheel I’ve ever dreamt about was attached to a really cool car. Maybe in Troy’s dreams, Vanna is standing in front of the wheel or something.
Back over at Avis, Katrina and Amy meet with a rental car guy to negotiate for a car. Katrina tells us that she had pre-negotiated the deal over the phone, but when they get there it seems that “Bob” isn’t thrilled about the idea of parting with an Oldsmobile Crossfire. We’re told that the Crossfire is the hottest new sports car on the market, yet I’ve never heard of it. I think it’s because Celine Dion sings on those Oldsmobile commercials. To give you an idea of the level of my loathing for Ms. Dion, let me just tell you that in my version of Hell, I’m strapped to a chair and forced to watch her and Barbara Streisand attempt to out-diva one another for eternity.
Katrina’s flirting with Bob gets them nowhere, so Amy steps in and tells him that they will be like free marketing for Bob’s dealership for twelve hours. The deal is done, and they get to display the Crossfire in the casino. I’m underwhelmed.
While Versacorp was busy negotiating to display a rental car, Protégé was busy thinking big. The Fercor Brothers “Untamed Illusions” act is playing the Taj, and Troy and the gang are meeting with their manager. From the look of things, the Fercor Brothers are the Atlantic City version of Sigfried and Roy, complete with white tigers. If these guys are that good, one wonders why they haven’t made the move to Vegas. Perhaps it might be that their manager’s mommy won’t let him go to Nevada. You see, their manager is all of ten years old. If you missed it, just imagine one of those overly precocious youngsters that crack wise on Leno or Letterman, and you have him pegged.
Troy quickly bonds with the junior executive, who agrees to provide Protégé with showgirls and even a tiger. You’re familiar with showgirls, aren’t you? They often dress in costumes much like belly dancers. In other words, Protégé is going with exactly the same idea that Katrina had for Versacorp. Interesting. The deal done, Troy tells the kid (who makes Agent Cody Banks look like Sean Connery) that the deal will be good for both of them. The young manager responds “Let me give you some advice in life – don’t sell when it’s already sold.” Wow, this kid has a fantastic script writer.
The only condition placed on Protégé was that they see the Fercor Brothers act. At first, I think this is a pretty silly deal for the kid to make. Then it dawns on me, if a member of the show goes to the show, undoubtedly they’ll get some camera time. Camera time helps attract people to come see their show, which in turn attracts people to come to the Trump Taj Mahal. We all know who benefits from more people in the casino. I’ll give you one guess and it isn’t Taj or Mahal. I’m continually amazed at how Trump has managed to turn a reality TV show into a free marketing campaign for the Trump brand. Like him or not, that’s darned impressive. I wonder if he’s ever considered marketing cold medicine? Trumponol has a certain ring to it. But I’m rambling. Troy goes to the show to pick out a tiger, and Kwame goes with him.
Bill isn’t happy about the fact that the two pals are taking a two hour break the night before their twelve-hour marathon gambler registration. He tells us, but he doesn’t let them know it bothered him; he’s thinking strategically. Oh, and momentarily channeling Nick, Troy tells us that the show was “Phenomenal”
It’s Easier To Think Big
This week’s Trump Nugget O’Wisdom (obviously, he’d never call it that, unless he could get the owner of the Nugget casinos to pay for the publicity) is nothing more than an excuse for The Donald to show us a new 500 acre golf course he’s building in New Jersey. You won’t be surprised to hear that when it’s completed, it will be one of the finest golf courses in the country. Thankfully, he arrived in his helicopter just in time to tell a grader driver “Nice and smooth” as Joe Construction was grading a fairway. Oh, he also uses the wind as a chance to show us all that he has his own hair. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll note that this is the first time since the series started that I’ve commented on his hair. Sure, there are probably hundreds of jokes one could make about his hair, but it’s too easy, so I’ve avoided the topic. However, since he brought it up, I have a little advice for the man. Donald, put down the Flowbie and slowly back away.
Hookers, Vultures, And Copycats
The contest is underway. Protégé’s hook is their wheel. People can spin the wheel for a chance to enter a drawing to win $1,000 cash. That sounds fun, and the people in line seem to be having a good time as Troy grabs a mike and does his best carnival barker impression.
Over at the Versacorp rental car booth, there’s some confusion. Sure, they’ve hired attractive models to work the casino and draw people to register, but a number of people need clarification. Amy informs a man that he can win $300 towards a weekend rental of the fabulous Olds Crossfire or another vehicle, or he can take the cash and walk away. “I can walk away with the car?” Uh, no. One patron is so unimpressed that he takes one of their entry forms, wads it up, and throws it away right in front of one of the models. Ah, that refined New Jersey etiquette.
Bill arranged a deal to have the rights to talk to the patrons registering at the VIP desk, which was a great idea. So great, in fact, that Versacorp decided to send one of their models over to do the same thing. I could be wrong, but I don’t think Bill thought very highly of their tactic. Unless when he referred to them as “hookers” and “vultures” he meant it in a good way. He quickly chased off one poor model, who Amy (or Katrina, I don’t remember) then promptly sent to poach people from the Protégé wheel spin line. A smile on his face, Troy told the “little lady” that she was “as pretty as a peach” as he escorted her away from his potential registration pool.
Seeing the success of Versacorp, Amy decided that getting a microphone like Troy would help drum up business. We were then treated to a clever bit of editing. Troy on the mike. Amy on the mike. Back and forth. Faster and faster. All to the tune of “Dueling Bangos.” It was a much better use of music than the annoying fanfare they played for us earlier.
Katrina tells us that what her team is missing is “shock value.” Queue the stupid fanfare, and enter a cage holding a white tiger. The crowd swarmed to the Versacorp wheel area for a chance to see the tiger. Even Nick admitted defeat. He was on the mike trying to attract customers when the moment tiger made it’s entrance. “Ladies and gentlemen please direct your attention to the 2003… well I can’t really beat a tiger.”
Kwame said that the appearance of the tiger demoralized the other team like dunking on them. And at first, he was right. But it quickly became apparent that the tiger was a distraction; people were watching the big cat instead of gambling. And Bill was afraid that the large crowd was scaring off the high-rollers. You know, with high-rollers being such shy and elusive creatures even when in their natural habitat. Nick even became cocky enough to spout off something about how his team’s guerilla marketing was going to carry them to victory. I was going to make some lame joke about betting on a tiger over a gorilla, but some things are just too lame.
Enough With The Fanfares
We’re shown Trump helicopter landing on Trump’s hotel/casino. We’re forced to endure the Fanfare From Hell (yes, I’m revising my version of Hell; Celine and Barbara would be welcomed to the stage with this horrendous sound) as Trump descends into the casino and shakes hands with the commoners. He greats each of the teams as they prepare to announce the winners of their contests. They suck up appropriately.
Nick claims that everyone is awaiting the announcement of the winner of the rental car with baited breath. I’m not sure even he believes that. The announcement is made, the winner is not present, and the only applause comes from Versacorp and their models.
Over at Protégé, Kwame calls the numbers of the ticket that will win the $1,000. You can see people excitedly following along with the numbers as they match up with the numbers on their ticket – and their disappointment when a digit is called that doesn’t match. The winning ticket is announced, the winner is present and very excited, and the crowd applaudes. The difference between the two crowds is amazing. Whether or not Protégé wins this competition, they clearly did a better job entertaining their customers.
The announcements made, the teams meet with The Donald to hear the results. Caroline informs them that Versacorp registered an impressive 1,337 gamblers, and those gamblers spent $105,362 in the casino. Mark says that Protégé only managed to register 776 gamblers. This brings a victorious smile to Nick’s lips. Which is quickly wiped away when Mr. Brown continues, informing the group that because Protégé focused on the VIP customers, their patrons spent $123,159. That’s right folks, for the first time Amy is on the losing team. And from the sour look on her face, either Amy just remembered that she left her curling iron on back at the suite, or she doesn’t take losing very well.
Kwame, Troy, and Bill are rewarded for their victory with a night in the Napoleon Suite in the hotel, along with $3,000 cash. The suite is outfitted with fancy appetizers and plenty of alcohol. Since the boys had virtually nothing to eat all day, the booze was probably to guarantee that their $3,000 would make it back in the hands of the casino via the gaming tables. Still, the boys had a good time, and they only showed them on camera winning. After all, it wouldn’t do for Trump Taj Mahal if the show made it look like its gamblers actually lost, would it?
Double Take And Double Talk
Back in Trump Tower, Amy is concerned. She’s never faced elimination before, and she’s preparing like no candidate before her. She has notes. She has summaries typed up on the computer. She has secret notes about how she really feels about Nick. Okay, I’m only guessing on that last one.
Nick admits to us that the fact that Amy doesn’t know what to expect in the boardroom could prove to be a liability for her.
In the boardroom, Trump quickly points out that Amy is here for the first time. He tells her how much he hates losing, and asks “Don’t you hate to lose?” To the one person that actually thought she’d tell him that she enjoys losing: I want my Nyquil back.
Amy tells Donald that yes, she hates to lose. She believes that her team lost because of Bill’s strategy of aggressively registering VIP gamblers. Nick was sitting next to her looking quite bored – until Amy dropped the bomb. “I think Bill is my toughest competition.” Nick managed to limit his shock to only a minor double-take. But inside I’m sure he was doing some major reassessing of his relationship with Amy.
Caroline wasn’t impressed with the concept of a $300 car rental. Trump agreed, pointing out what you already know; usually the promotion is to give away the car. Mark Brown, determined to make the most of his lone episode of the series, had a lot to say. “I thought your whole concept of the car, the black and white balloons, what is that? You saw the other team; people were having fun. They were laughing, spinning the wheel, having a great time. They’re coming back to the Taj Mahal.” I’m sure that off camera, Donald made sure that Mark was aware that it’s “Trump Taj Mahal.”
The assault on Versacorp’s idea continued. Trump asked “Who chose this stupid concept?” Katrina quickly told him that she cam up with the idea of a car, but not the idea of renting it. Amy couldn’t remember who had come up with the idea for a rental. I don’t believe that she didn’t remember that any more than I believe that she doesn’t really know how she feels about Nick. Amy, the correct answers are “It was my idea” and “I’m playing him.”
The preliminaries out of the way, Amy is asked to choose who will go and who will stay with her to face elimination. She picks Nick to go back to the suite.
The three candidates leave, and the discussion between Trump and his lieutenants is brief. Mark, having nearly used up his fifteen minutes, doesn’t think either of them did a good job, but he felt like Katrina never really knew what she was supposed to be doing. Caroline was more critical of Amy. “Although Amy performed well in all the other tasks, she definitely made some large mistakes here.” Trump has no comment, and simply orders Katrina and Amy to come back into the boardroom.
Trump asks Katrina if she was surprised that Amy picked her to stay. She reveals that she wasn’t surprised at the choice because of Amy’s “personal relationship with Nick. Trump reveals he’s surprised, and at first Amy tries to play things off coyly. However, ask the questioning of the relationship continues, she clearly becomes uncomfortable and tries to distance herself from the idea of she and Nick being a couple, particularly when Donald refers to Nick as “your boyfriend.” I’m sure if Nick had heard Amy’s quick dismissal of that reference, he’d have been doing another double-take on the inside.
Trump asks Katrina how many times she’s been on the losing team. She replies “I’ve only twice.” Trump’s response sounded like he thought he was Yogi Berra for a second. “Well, only is a lot.” He asks the same question of Amy, who lost for the first time this week. She also points out that “Four times I’ve lead teams to success being switched back and forth.” Katrina says that she doesn’t believe that Amy “lead” the teams, and the thinks more luck was involved. I’m with Katrina; Amy was inflating her resume a bit there.
The Donald finishes the evening’s proceedings. “My only problem is I have to go to a certain extent with the past, because I think you were equal in this performance. And in the past, Amy was very exceptional. Both teams picked her to join their team when they had the chance and I can’t ignore that. And therefore, Katrina, I have to save you’re fired.
I didn’t care for Amy’s smug little smirk. For one thing it reminded me way too much of Omarosa. Trump orders her back up to the suite, and rather that tell Katrina to head down to the street, she wishes her good luck. The two women head for the elevators without exchanging words.
There are only two episodes left until the live grand finale. But remember, only is a lot. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get my chicken soup off the stove.
Know any good jokes about gorillas and tigers? Write me at wayner@fansofrealitytv.