Have you been faithfully watching this season since the premiere episode? How does it feel – at week 12 – to finally be rewarded with an hour of The Apprentice that has The Donald at his egomaniacal best, the candidates displaying both outstanding qualities and mind-numbing stupidity, and a task that tests salesmanship, presentation skills, and the ability to impress our favorite billionaire empire-builder? And don’t forget the elimination of the stupidest twist ever, plus a firing that was - for once - unexpected. It was almost (I said almost) enough to make me forgive Trump for the last twelve weeks.
The Donald redeems himself
But first, I need some closure on the Tim and Nicole thing. The mansion is still sounding like a junior-high cafeteria, as Nicole reads aloud a mash note from Tim to Kristine. It’s embarrassing enough to guarantee that Tim will never get a date with another woman, and quite possibly his guy friends will never speak to him again. Thankfully, Heidi walks in and interrupts to dish about the boardroom decision, mentioning that Tim was fired because Nicole was a distraction (causing Nicole to gasp) and relaying Frank’s wet-behind-the-ears comment about Tim (causing Nicole to gasp – and smirk).
Back at Arrow, James disapprovingly remarks that if Nicole doesn’t feel badly about Tim’s firing, she must be heartless. Or, she’s just a high-drama self-involved bitch, says Stefani. OK, Stef didn’t actually say that, but you know she had to be thinking it. Stef seems to be hanging out with the gang more since Nicole decamped to Kinetic. Just saying. The gossip session is cut short, though, by Frank squealing like a little girl at the sight of a mouse. This guy is from New York and he freaks at the sight of a rodent? Frank is yelling something about lighting a fire – is he planning to barbeque it? He gets Stefani wound up as well and she ends up clambering onto a table, and the Arrow camp has suddenly turned into an episode of The Honeymooners. In the nick of time, of course, there’s a phone call from Trump drone Andi, who instructs Arrow to move back into the mansion, as there will be no more tent living. There will also be no more project managers, and the candidates are to split themselves into three teams of two. Heidi takes the call at Kinetic and seems displeased at the news, while Arrow is inexplicably sad to leave camp. They join hands and I almost expect them to break into “Kumbaya”.
Recovery from a broken heart in three…two…one…
Arrow troops merrily into the mansion, and Heidi looks as dismayed as Melania Trump does when the help doesn’t use the back entrance. James gets down to business and stakes a claim on Stefani for his partner. Stef, as usual, is silent and presumably amiable to James’ suggestion. Kristine politely says that she’d be happy to have either Nicole or Heidi, and Frank looks archly over at Nicole. Nicole immediately becomes defensive and demands to know what his problem is. Frank gets in a few digs about Tim, causing Nicole to lose it and shriek that she doesn’t feel like she’s lost a part of herself with Tim’s departure, and asks Frank if he’s retarded. No, Nicole, that’s just the way he talks.
Tim was probably attracted to the way Nicole looked – the more I see of Nicole, the more I’m sure it wasn’t her personality. Kristine, though, seems to actually like her and says they work well together. I’m slightly mystified until she admits via confessional that she just wants to bring down Heidi, whom she calls Trump’s “super-shining star”. Jealous much?
If you ask Frank, he’s stuck with Heidi. Ask Heidi, and she’ll tell you that she’s stuck with Frank. Either way, Frank proclaims that he loves everyone. He’s been living in a tent too long, I guess.
All that glitters is gold-plated
The teams are meeting with Trump in the boardroom, as if to underline the importance of this particular task. Ivanka has the week off, and brother Don Jr. is in her place. Trump seems pleased at the way the candidates have partnered off, and there’s little chit-chat, because this task is all about promoting him. The teams will be flying to Las Vegas in the Trump jet, to tour the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Tower One is completely sold out – and besides, it wasn’t nearly big enough to hold all of Donald’s ego, so Tower Two is currently being constructed, under the supervision of Junior. They’ll be responsible for putting together an advertising promotion and campaign to sell space in Tower Two, and Trump will decide whose presentation he likes least, and the losing duo will be fired.
The candidates board the Trump plane – yes, it’s the one with the name TRUMP on it – and immediately ooh and ahh over the ostentatious bad taste within. We’ve seen enough Trump interior design to know that every possible surface that can be gilded usually is, and the jet is no exception. Really, though, if the guy can’t get himself a decent haircut, how much decorating acumen can you expect?
The teams get busy brainstorming, and James teases Frank that as a developer, he should be able to nail this task. Sneaky James - he knows that Frank is easily distracted by mindless banter and bright shiny objects. Frank flits about the plane, while Heidi pursues her mouth and tells the camera that she and Frank are “polar opposites” and likens Frank to a five-year-old. Which really is less insulting than calling him retarded. I guess.
The good, the bad, and the sleepy
You know what’s been missing during this season? The sound of Trump’s voice during the tasks. Someone must have decided that everything was moving along a bit too fast this week for us poor dumb viewers to follow, so Trump does some voice-over narration, telling us that the teams will be taken to see the sales office and model suites. Well, that clears everything up nicely, thanks Donald.
The teams get busy – Stef and James meet with some Trump execs while Kristine and Nicole visit the building site, hard hats perched jauntily on their heads. Kristine is asking questions at a mile a minute, while Nicole, the commercial real estate tycoon, lurks silently in the background. Kristine is irritated at Nicole’s inaction, obviously not taking into account the poor girl’s heart has just been ripped to shreds. Nicole claimed that she hadn’t lost a part of herself when Tim left, but it looks like she’s definitely lost something (the will to win, a work ethic…)
Frank and Heidi, meanwhile, are busy
stealing James and Stef’s ideasdirecting their videographer and photographer. Turns out James & Stef are shooting some footage for their presentation as well, but Frank thinks he and Heidi, master tent pitchers, will rise to the top and kick everyone’s butt in this challenge.
Back in LA, Kristine is worried about Nicole’s lack of contribution to their campaign. Nicole, in her usual tactful manner, verbally explodes and claims to have the “entire presentation in my head” and complains in confessional that Kristine fails to realize the whole idea behind the promotion is sales and passion. And Nicole certainly excels in showing passion – especially when she’s whining about her teammates’ incompetence.
James and Stef, the match made in heaven, are having a nice little discussion about the look of their DVD with the videographer, and Stefani smugly admits in confessional that she and James get along perfectly and never fight. Wait till the honeymoon’s over and he’s leaving his socks on the floor and picking his nose in front of you, sweetie.
The honeymoon is definitely over between Nicole and Kristine. Kris has taken the part of the martyred wife, and has decided it’s easier to do all the work herself rather than nag lazy-husband Nic, who’s napping on the couch.
A couple of days in Frank’s company has completely ruined Heidi – she’s in baggy, unattractive clothes and her hair is hanging in her face as she crouches on the floor and tries to compose text for their brochure. Frank is perched at a computer with their graphic designer, and manages to point at the screen and discuss the video while simultaneously criticizing Heidi’s efforts. Frank is disappointed, and tells the camera that he expected more from Heidi. Plus, she can’t make meatballs the way his mamma does.
The shine is off the star
The teams troop back into the boardroom to shock and awe the Trumps with their presentations, and the tone is set by the fact everyone is dressed in black. Kristine and Nicole have even donned matching tops and ugly oversized gold beads a lŕ Marge Simpson. Trump asks how the partnerships worked out – James praises Stefani (who as per usual says nothing), Nicole admits that she and Kristine have “different focuses” but it all turned out OK, Kristine commends Nicole’s “amazing energy” (except when she’s napping on the job, I suppose), Heidi grits her teeth and says Frank is a “ball of energy”, and Frank magnanimously declares Heidi “great”. The best kind of partnership, apparently, is a silent one.
Up first are James and Silent Stef, whose farsightedness must have magically corrected itself as her gigantic glasses are nowhere to be seen. Stefani gives the presentation and again displays her excellent public speaking skills – her voice is mellifluous, and there’s no hesitation or awkward silences. Their theme is “Height of Luxury”, and the professionally-shot video is superbly done. James gives the sales pitch with his “360 Trump Marketing Plan”, and Heidi admits in confessional that she is “100% impressed” with their presentation. Trump is pleased, and instantly damns the other teams by saying that he would be surprised if they come up with anything better.
Next is Kristine and Nicole, who hope to capitalize on the Donald’s love of all that glitters with their theme, “Las Vegas is Turning Gold”. The problems start immediately, though, as Nicole can’t seem to get her computer working. She hammers on the keys and claims she’s not frustrated, as Kristine sweats behind her. Trump makes a few smartass comments and then asks James if he can help Nicole out with her technical difficulties. James jumps up and gets Nic’s presentation up and running, and Frank smirks in confessional that Kristine and Nicole were “a disaster”. We don’t see much of Nicole’s Power Point presentation, but the quick glimpse I get confirms that it’s a low-tech, junior-league effort. There’s a brief video – not terrible but nowhere near as good as Stef and James’ – when Trump holds up Kristine’s brochure and growls that the phone number is not the same one that appears on James & Stef’s literature. Kristine blanches as Trump again calls on James to take Nicole out of the boardroom and try both numbers to determine which one is correct. Kristine recovers and takes advantage of Nic’s absence to talk some smack about her partner’s lack of effort on the project, while Nicole blasts Kris in confessional about the phone number error. As it turns out, Kristine did indeed type in the wrong number, and Trump grunts that their presentation sucked. Abashed, the two women sink into their seats, and Trump snaps at Frank to “show me a man from the Bronx can present”. I think the kids say represent, Donald.
Heidi, still looking drawn and pale, starts speaking – sort of. She stammers and stutters, and a horrified Frank tells us what we can clearly see – Heidi totally choked. Trump’s superstar has somehow morphed into Girl, Interrupted. After a few words, Heidi abandons the presentation, catching Frank off-guard. He stumbles through his introduction to the video, delighting Kristine, who sees a “glimmer of hope” for herself and Nicole as Frank & Heidi have neglected to include that all-important component of an ad campaign – a theme. Sure enough, after the video ends, Trump demands to know what the theme is supposed to be. Heidi quickly answers, “world-class luxury”, and Don Jr. points out that phrase hasn’t been mentioned thus far. Senior proclaims Heidi’s brochure too wordy, and spits out that he hates it. He tells Heidi to sit down and proclaims the presentation overall a disaster.
Liar, liar, you’re so fired
Trump verbally pats James & Stefani on the back for coming up with a decent presentation, and comments that he feels like firing both of the other teams. (Yes, please!) Once again, he turns to James and asks his opinion. It’s a pity he just didn’t hire James on the spot, save us two weeks and go out on a high note. Trump tattles to Nicole that Kristine was knocking her when she was out of the room, and Nicole shrugs and the women trade barbs. Donald comments that he prefers Kristine’s video and brochure to Heidi’s, but the phone number error was a fatal mistake. He turns his attention to Heidi, who tries to shift all the blame to Frank, saying he needs direction and focus. Frank complains that he did the bulk of the work, and that Heidi’s only task was to complete the brochure. Heidi, visibly upset, claims that it was Frank’s fault the brochure turned out poorly, but Don Jr. reminds her that she wrote it, calling it a “diatribe”.
Trump, seeming to forget Frank is still in the room, comments to Don Jr. that he likes the fight Frank puts up but is worried that he lacks polish. Frank’s back goes up and he reminds Trump that he’s a hard worker and can do anything he puts his mind to. He goes after Heidi for failing to give the presentation they prepared, and a wild-eyed Heidi claims it’s both their faults, and that too much time was spent on the video. An incensed Frank demands to know how he’s at fault for the non-presentation, and accuses Heidi of changing her story every minute. Don Jr. agrees, telling Heidi she’s contradicted herself several times and that she’s making excuses. Trump doesn’t comment, and simply shakes his finger at Heidi and fires her. He then abruptly turns to Kristine and fires her as well, saying that putting the wrong number on the brochure was unforgivable. Kristine is taken aback and tries to speak, but Donald cuts her off and tells everyone to get out. After they leave, the Trump men speak admiringly of Frank’s ferocity in the boardroom, and Don Jr. thinks he’d like to have Frank work on one of his construction jobs. Are we considering a double hiring in the wake of the double firing?
The former Kinetic women accept their demise with good grace – Heidi admits that she deserved to be fired, but is mystified as to why Kristine was booted instead of Frank. Kristine admits that her strategy was faulty, and that she teamed up with Nicole in the hope of getting Heidi fired – well, it half-worked, at that. She apologizes to Heidi, and they chuckle good-naturedly.
We’re down to two more weeks and only four candidates remain – will Trump go with loud and obnoxious street fighters Frank or Nicole, or slick-talking sales stars James or Stefani? With the downfall of perennial favorite Heidi, it’s anyone’s game. I say give the successful Apprentice a real prize, not just a job - winner gets to shave Donald’s head!
Is there ANYTHING you can’t gold-plate? PM me.