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Celebrity Apprentice, the Kinda One-Third(ish) of the Way Performance Reviews: The Business of Celebrity Business is Celebrityby Mike DeGeorge -- 02/07/2008
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In case you have been wondering (and bless you if you have), I took a self-imposed exile from all things reality TV, which included RNO. In a classic good news/bad news situation, I got a yuuuuge promotion at work, but that left my already busy schedule and frazzled mind in absolute tatters. But I’m back, if only temporarily.
Regular readers may remember that I was incredibly jazzed about The Apprentice when it first started. I thought it was the perfect show - Survivor for business people. In the beginning, that’s what it was, but it became more about Donald Trump (who let’s just say I’ve never been overly impressed with in the first place and leave it at that, otherwise this column will be twice as long) and his famous friends than it was about business itself.
Then came Celebrity Apprentice. Theoretically, one would imagine that it would be the business version of Dancing with the Stars, where celebrities would be forced out of their element and excel in a field that they normally wouldn’t have anything to do with. After all, most celebrities have agents and managers and assistants to help them with their real business dealings. And failing that, many of the celebrities chosen had a background in business, Tito Ortiz and Gene Simmons being two examples, so at least you’d have celebrities showing their business smarts. But no. Instead, it became exactly what I feared – Donald’s ego imprinted onto 14 contestants competing to see who can wave their, um, black books the hardest.
That’s the failing of the show, the challenges. When you have celebrities with contacts willing to drop $10,000 (for charity or no), you should have ZERO tasks where raising money is the deciding factor. The exception, of course, is the inevitable retread of the “celebrity auction” challenge from seasons past. To find out the most business-savvy executive, you need to find out who can use their celebrity best, not who can get someone to pay $50 or $100 or $10,000 for a hot dog. (And one wonders how much Sam from the first season fumes over such overpaying) Getting a big one-time sale is great, but to make money, one has to have a good product and be able to sell it. That’s not what’s going on here. But then again, since when have the challenges on this show had anything to do with real life business situations?
As in the past, I’ll give advice to members of both teams, what they’re doing right or wrong, and what they need to do to win.
First off, I love the name. Taking your name from a mythological beast is usually a good idea, especially when it’s one that could only be killed by Heracles (and even he needed help). The symbolic concept of “cut off one head and two more grow back” is perfect for an elimination show like The Apprentice, where you’re basically saying “we’re one unit made up of smaller units, none of which is more important than another.” Of course, that’s not true, but hey.
Tito: I’m a huge UFC fan, so let’s start with one of the two main reasons I started watching this season.
Tito, you’re in trouble for a lot of reasons. For someone known as “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” you’ve hardly made a peep, letting yourself get overshadowed by literally everyone else on the team. Even when you were PM, it seemed Stephen did most of the planning.
I mentioned before that a lot of these challenges are based on your famous friends. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. Uh-oh. What will your response be in the boardroom when Donald asks why you didn’t call up your friends with the UFC? “Um, because they all hate me?” You and UFC President Dana White almost had a legitimate fight, which was only called off for contractual reasons, and bad mouth him at every opportunity. Chuck Liddell told the world in his book exactly how he feels about you (hint: it’s not friendly). You claim to have a good relationship with UFC owners and casino moguls the Fertitta brothers, so maybe you’ll use their help. I may be wrong, but I don’t think you have any other friends in the industry, at least none that have deep pockets.
You also take a lot of flack for your public statement that you let your girlfriend, Jenna Jameson, handle your business affairs and contract negotiations, and some say this is to your detriment as, to put it nicely, she’s not known as a shrewd businesswoman. Could this be why you really don’t have a lot to say here, because you’re out of your element? You’re an excellent marketer (and I’m surprised you didn’t push for your team to be Team Punishment – after your clothing line – as you did in The Ultimate Fighter 3), but can you hang in this world? Eventually, when the men start losing (or the teams get shuffled) people are going to start wondering why they should keep you around. Give them a reason.
By the way, I’m curious if Tito will take a lot of crap for missing this past week. I imagine Tito had to make an appearance at UFC 78. I say this because he turned down a main event rematch (of a crappy fight, I thought) to film this show. There’s no way he was actually IN a fight, because these guys train like mad, especially in the last few weeks leading up to the fight. In other words, his contract mandates that he appear at ringside at events he’s not fighting in. So, will he take crap for taking a task off in order to fulfill his contract? People on past seasons have gotten flack for attending religious services!
Piers: Boy, do a lot of people hate you. Personality-wise, I think you’re a huge jerk, but in business I don’t care about that. You get the job done, you’re willing to do what is necessary no matter how ridiculous you look holding a stuffed killer rabbit, and no matter what Stephen and Trace say (whose votes were strictly emotional) you have been the unquestioned leader and high producer on this team.
You need to tone it down. Way down. Omarosa proved once that being the villain only gets you so far. Unless you can pull a Donato and bring your daughter into the mix, you won’t make it past the final four.
The mole joke with Vincent was funny, but you took it way too far. You created enemies where none were necessary by repeatedly rubbing it in the women’s faces in the war rooms. Revealing the information did its job – it completely flustered the women and threw them off their game. But after so much ribbing, you only served to galvanize them and have them resolve to kick your butts. In essence, this is what you’ve been doing for five weeks. In real life, I’d hire you in a second because you get the job done. In this game, it makes people gun for you.
Stephen: I’m going to give this one opinion and then drop it – there is absolutely no difference between picking up a note and reading it and saying “Hey, teammate, look at this note laying here!” Your hypocrisy is astounding and the fact that you have no clue how you look just makes it worse.
Now, you, like Piers, also need to dial it back a few notches. Someone who gets the job done when it’s needed (Piers) is one thing. Someone who takes control where it is not needed or wanted, well, that’s you. You got supremely lucky in the Kodak challenge when your hyperactive act nearly cost your team the win (not to mention an expensive laptop). You keep this up, you’ll be fired eventually, assuming you don’t quit first (and I think this is just a tease for a reshuffle). No one as outspoken and in the forefront as you has ever won, or even made the finals. You have to know when to pull back, and I don’t think you have that ability.1 2 3 Next-->
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