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Dateline: Behind The Apprentice – Beyond the Boardroomby Betsy Wasser -- 04/15/04
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The Apprentice has been a smash hit for NBC, and they’re celebrating the finale with a special edition of Dateline that takes us “Behind The Apprentice.” Host Stone Phillips promises us interviews, previously unaired audition tapes, and a chance to get to know some of our favorite candidates a little better.
We start with Ereka. In her audition, Ereka shows off her kickboxing (along with a sports bra and some tight pants – the girl has some nice abs). We’re reminded that in the early challenges, the women used sex to sell, but Ereka thinks that was fine. She says that it was a back to basics approach, and a way for them to use all of their resources. We get a good look at Ereka’s… resources in the photo shoot for FHM magazine. Ereka and some of the other women for the show are sporting black lace lingerie that doesn’t exactly make me think, “I want to hire her!”
Ereka’s audition tape also included a trip to her parents’ pizzeria. Ereka says that her parents are Italian immigrants and that she’s very proud of them. She attempts to toss some pizza dough, but it’s definitely not her strong suit!
The most upsetting time for her during the show was Omarosa’s accusing her of calling her the n-word. Ereka says, “If you’re going to make accusations like you did… I’m going to put up a fight.” The narrator of the segment reports that the producers have scoured all of the tapes from the show, and found no evidence of Ereka or anyone else using that word. I hope that settles that issue, but unfortunately I suspect it won’t.
In the end, Trump found Ereka frazzled and out of control, so he fired her. She says she’s gotten lots of job offers since the show aired, and is happy in her life.
Next up is Katrina. Katrina wants us to know that she has a goofy, silly side. In her audition tape, she rides a mechanical bull. She is in the top three percent of realtors nationwide and had a 4.0 grade point average in college. Katrina says that one thing viewers might not realize is that candidates had no access to TV, to the computer (other than for work-related tasks), newspapers, and so forth. As a result, they had nothing to do but talk to each other, so conflicts – like the one between her and Omarosa – had a tendency to blow up. She says that the intensity was very real. She is engaged to her high school sweetheart.
Amy and Nick are profiled together. Nick says that they’re just friends, but that Amy broke his heart. Their “showmance,” as Nick called it, only lasted a month, but the two of them are still flirting in the segment. For example, Nick says that he wants to be in politics, and Amy cracks up laughing at him. In Amy’s audition tape, she showed her sense of humor and athleticism, but Nick was all business. In fact, his tape consisted entirely of him closing a deal to sell copiers!
Hey, it’s Troy! Troy’s wife Crystal says that when Troy was a kid, he had Donald Trump posters in his room. From a young age, Troy supported his mother and his sister Doralynn, but Crystal says he never considered it a burden. Troy explains that his sister is profoundly deaf and developmentally delayed. The two of them have a conversation and Doralynn signs her name. It could not be more obvious that Troy absolutely adores her. Troy became fast friends with Kwame, and Kwame even loaned him suits because Troy didn’t have very many of his own. I totally love Kwame for that – what a great guy! But the one item of clothing that was 100% Troy was his famous black cowboy hat. In a cute interview, Troy and Doralynn explain that she got him the hat to remember her by. Troy has gotten a lot of offers to work as a motivational speaker (a job he’d be incredible at). He says that he never quit or lost hope that he’d make his dreams come true.
The next segment focuses on the man behind The Apprentice. No, not Donald Trump; executive producer Mark Burnett. Mark Burnett is 44 years old and has hit shows on three networks. He is the creative force behind Survivor, The Restaurant, Eco-Challenge, and, of course, The Apprentice. Burnett came to the United States after serving as a paratrooper for the U.K. in the Falkland Islands war. He grew up watching American TV and was eager to work in the field. He doesn’t like the term “reality TV,” preferring the term “unscripted drama.” I looked into it, and if we change the name of the site to “Unscripted Drama News Online,” everybody is going to need to buy a bigger computer monitor so it’ll fit.
Burnett is involved in all aspects of production, but one of the most important is casting. Over a quarter of a million people auditioned for the second season of The Apprentice. He says instinct is the key to finding the right people. Burnett says that if you get a bunch of type-A personalities together, you’re bound to have an interesting show, but that you can never predict which people will clash. He says that all of his shows are based in ritual – from the boardrooms to tribal councils – and that audiences find that appealing. He’s also proud that his shows are hits without gratuitous nudity (except for Richard Hatch, I guess), sex, or gross-outs. He’s also not a fan of relying on surprise twists, by which I think he means more along the lines of “He’s not really a millionaire!” more than “The Outcasts are back!”1 2 3 Next-->
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