The Apprentice 4, Episode 1: We Can Work it Outby Betsy Wasser -- 09/23/2005
Donald Trump welcomes us to the fourth season of The Apprentice and promises us lots of “hungry go-getters” from all different walks of life. We quickly meet a woman who had a child at 16, a self-proclaimed “good ole boy,” and a man who is ready to stop being a big fish in a small pond. Sadly, none of them have captions with their names, so they’ll have to be anonymous for now. Trump says that his show, The Apprentice has helped him find some incredible talent. He’s looking for someone who is a tough negotiator and a dynamic leader. He’s also apparently looking for someone gorgeous, because from the shots we’re seeing of the candidates, they are all smokin’ hot. Eighteen candidates will compete over 13 weeks, Trump tells us. Those candidates are headed to the Trump National golf course in New Jersey, and as we know, only one will be The Apprentice.
Money, money, money. Money!
And we’re back. The candidates start to arrive. We meet Jennifer M., who says her great resume gives her confidence. Marshawn tells us that as a former criminal prosecutor, she has worked with all kinds of people. Clay thinks that his being gay gives him an advantage – the guys won’t find him threatening and the girls will want to be his best friend. Every season, there has to be someone who thinks that Donald Trump is their kindred spirit, and this time, it’s Markus.
The candidates hike to the golf course and meet Trump, George, and Carolyn. Trump tells them to divide into two teams – men and women. As I start to doze off because that concept is so tired, Trump explains that it makes it easier to tell the teams apart. Well, that’s fair. And in a new development, the project manager of the winning team will only be exempt from firing in the next task if his or her team agrees to it.
Trump tells us, “I like to stay fit.” He does? The point is that fitness is a big business, and this week, the candidates will work with Bally Total Fitness to create a new fitness class at one of two gyms. The team that makes the most money at the end wins.
Speaking of fitness, which team has the best runners? That’s about to become important, because Trump tells the candidates that his helicopter is somewhere on the golf course. Whichever team gets to it first will be able to send two people to the city on a helicopter, giving them first pick of the gyms. With that, the candidates are off, one of them nearly knocking Trump over in the process. Trump notes that some of the women grabbed a golf cart, which he thinks is smart. Meanwhile, the guys are looking for high ground so they can spot the helicopter. One of the women (I swear, they need to wear nametags) kicks off her heels to run faster. There’s a race to the finish – which I suspect isn’t as close as it seems – and Mark gets there first. In an interview, Felisha says she’s disappointed that the men have that advantage, but the women won’t let it get to them.
And now it’s time for the Trump Lesson of the Week: “Can’t We All Just Get Along.” In business, Trump tells us, it’s important to get along with everyone. Faithful readers of my recaps (who are all fabulous, by the way) know that at this time, I like to offer a Betsy Lesson of the Week. This week’s TLOTW is so obvious that I’ll make mine just as simple. That is that it is generally easier if you put on socks before shoes.
A bunch of the guys are in a car together, and Markus suggests that they divide up the tasks. He’s taking charge, and one of the guys makes it official by nominating him as the first project manager. Markus demurs, earning him the contempt of Chris. In an interview, Chris says that it was annoying that Markus acted like he didn’t want to lead. Then we see an interview with Markus in which he says that he doesn’t want anyone to think that he shied away from leadership. It sounds really tough, but not so much when you see him in reality telling the guys, “Fine, I’ll do it.” Not exactly inspiring, is it?
Josh and Brian are the lucky guys who get to ride in the helicopter. Also, they’re both really cute. I especially like Josh’s glasses. They were picked to go in the helicopter because they are cute. No wait, that’s not what happened. Um, because they are both from New York and would be able to pick the best gym. They quickly select the one in Chelsea over the one in Spanish Harlem, then enjoy the ride. When they get to the gym, they’re confident that they made the right choice.
Kristi volunteers to lead the women, saying that she was an athlete in college and would do the task well. That’s as good a reason as any. Marshawn says in an interview that the guys might think they have the better location, but she thinks theirs is good too – the place is packed. Felisha walks around the gym interviewing members who probably don’t appreciate some woman in a suit interrupting their workouts. The women then gather to discuss what they’ve learned, in particular how much extra members would be willing to spend on a class. The amounts vary wildly – from $10 to $50. Fifty bucks? Really? If I’m paying $50 for a class at the gym on top of my membership fees, they better throw in some liposuction.
Melissa says that most of the members of the gym are Hispanic, as is she. Speaking for all Hispanic people everywhere, Melissa says that no way will her people spend more than $10-12 for a class. She’s loud, abrasive, and won’t hear what anyone else has to say, adding that since she’s Hispanic, she knows what’s what. In an interview, Toral says that Melissa may very well be right, but that she was so obnoxious about making her point that no one wanted to listen to her. Kristi tells her to calm down, adding “end of discussion.”
Meanwhile, the guys debate how long the class should be. If it’s 45 minutes long, it’ll seem like a good value for the money, but if it’s 30 minutes, they can have one class more. Markus asks for suggestions, and in an interview, Josh, who is in contention to be my new TV boyfriend, says that Markus seemed really frazzled. Markus then interrupts the discussion to ask everyone for feedback on how he’s doing as a leader. Is there anything he could be doing better? Well, he could start by not asking that question right then and there, for one. He is met with deafening silence, and adorable Josh says in an interview that he can’t imagine Trump asking for validation like that in the middle of a deal. He adds, “Get some balls.”
Back at the suite, Randal is on the phone. When he hangs up, we learn that his grandmother just passed away. He says he has mixed emotions – he wants to be with his family, but he doesn’t want to pass up this opportunity. The men offer their sympathies.
The next day, the women hit the streets to pass out flyers. It blows my mind that the candidates on this show, supposedly the smartest and most creative people in business, can’t seem to think of any way to market themselves other than to pass out badly Xeroxed flyers. Kristi explains that they are trying to get people who aren’t already members to come to the classes. Alla feels good and thinks that their enthusiasm will draw people in.
The name of their class is Triple Threat, and the headline on the flyers is Triple XXX Threat. Since we know that Alla used to be a stripper, insert joke here. Marshawn hates the flyers and says it looks like a strip club. Again, there’s an Alla joke there. Kristi says she is happy with the flyers. Melissa thinks the whole idea is a bad one and that they should have focused on the people inside the club. “But that,” she snipes, “would have required planning.” Um, would it? More planning than heading to Kinko’s to get flyers printed? And if it’s such a good idea, why haven’t you suggested it to the team? Melissa is not impressing me.
The men call their class Rush Half Hour and have crammed into that time kickboxing, ab work, and yoga. They decided to focus their efforts on members, figuring that they were already used to working out there and that it would be easy to get them to come to the class. That makes sense.
Markus gets a call on his cell from Donald Trump. He stammers to Trump that the men are “beyond impressive.” Trump asks what their team name is. Markus tells him that they are Excel, then trips all over himself trying to explain why. It’s really not that complicated, Markus. You all want to excel. We get it. Trump asks who the project manager is, and Markus can barely get out the words that it’s him. Trump and George make faces at Markus’s awkwardness, which is pretty funny. Trump tells him, “You don’t have to talk anymore,” and hangs up. As Trump points at the phone and smirks, a deluded Markus says, “Feel good about that!”
Over in Spanish Harlem, Trump calls Kristi. She tells him that her team is named Capital Edge and succinctly tells him why. Then she says that she is the project manager. It’s a much more direct, much less awkward conversation. Meanwhile, Carolyn asks some of the women how they feel about their project manager. Melissa smirks and says that she’s terrible – she has no organization and people aren’t being used properly. Alla says in an interview that Carolyn is someone they all admire and want to impress, so she thinks it’s a real mistake to put down the team and their effort in front of her. She is so right. Melissa goes on to tell Carolyn that she’s doing everything, but when Carolyn asks if that’s true, she admits that it’s not, not exactly. Carolyn does not look impressed by this conversation at all. Kristi sees what’s going on and pulls Melissa aside. She tells her that she needs to be more positive. In an interview, Melissa says that women always hate her because she is threatening. If by threatening, she means “threatening to get on my last nerve,” then she’s right.
At Excel, Randal admits that he’s having trouble focusing because he’s thinking about his grandmother. He hopes he’ll be able to attend her funeral. On a less serious note, Markus admits that he is nervous “about everything.” He hopes they’ll do well, but thinks it will be close.
Meanwhile, Kristi says that she choreographed their class, so she knows it’s tough, but will be $20 well spent. Marshawn is confident that they’ll win.
Is she right? We’ll soon find out, as the candidates file into the boardroom. George reports that Capital Edge focused on street marketing and brought in $516. Carolyn tells Trump that Excel targeted Bally customers and made $527. The men win the first challenge. Trump congratulates them, and says that for their reward, they’ll join him for lunch at the Friar’s Club.
On to the next order of business – should Markus be exempt next week? Chris says no – no member of the team should be above the others. Adam disagrees, saying Markus did well. They put it to a vote, and only Randal and Adam think Markus should get an exemption. If the men lose next week, Markus could be fired.
Trump asks Randal to stay behind. He tells him that if he wants to leave, everyone would understand. Randal says that he spoke to his grandfather, and he encouraged him to stay. Randal intends to do just that and to honor his grandmother’s memory. Trump gives him a helicopter to take to the services in Philadelphia, a very kind gesture.
Remember Elizabeth, who cried in Season 2? She’s in a Bally’s commercial. That’s all I have to say about that.
Excel goes on their reward, and as usual, it’s the most boring part of the episode. Markus hopes to use this as an opportunity to build a rapport with Trump. As Markus stammers at him, Trump turns to Josh and notes that Markus talks a lot. Josh offers him the Cliffs Notes, and I start to love him a little more. Here’s hoping Josh won’t let me down the way my boyfriend in Apprentice 3, John, did. Josh says the he doesn’t think they should ever give any project manager the exemption, unless perhaps he was a huge part of why they won. Trump again says that Markus talks too much, and he doesn’t think it’ll change. Can anyone predict why Markus will eventually be fired?
In the loft, Melissa rants and raves to one of the other girls (Rebecca, I think) about how she does not respect Kristi. Rebecca (or is it a Jennifer? They should really label them at this stage) says she finds Melissa negative. In big dramatic gestures, Melissa emphasizes that she does not respect Kristi. We get it, Melissa.
On the other side of the room, Kristi wonders aloud to Alla if she should be scheming, too. Alla says she doesn’t have to – Melissa is the one on the defensive, and Kristi should not worry. Alla seems really smart. In an interview, Kristi says, “This isn’t Kristi versus Melissa. This is Melissa sucks, and she needs to be fired.” Nice!
The women file in to the boardroom. Kristi laments that they only lost by $11. Marshawn blames the marketing. Melissa, to the surprise of no one, pins the blame for the flyers on Kristi. Kristi says that she didn’t intend for them to look like porn. Melissa continues to attack Kristi, and Kristi starts defending the things she did for the team. Melissa tells her that she is loud, obnoxious, annoying, and weak. Can you say “projection”?
Alla speaks up and says that it takes the efforts of the entire team to win. Melissa was negative and brought everyone down. If they had had just one more sale, they would have won. Perhaps Melissa’s negativity kept them from getting that one sale. It’s a very strong argument and well put.
One of the other women says that she doesn’t think the team can be successful with Melissa on it. She adds that Melissa’s actions show that she is not listening. Melissa disagrees and says she’s just trying to defend herself. One of the other women (seriously, they need to be captioned) says that Melissa’s feelings about Kristi are personal. She adds that all of the women find her to be negative, and to say that she’s only being negative because she doesn’t respect Kristi is a lousy excuse. Another woman agrees that Melissa should be fired. Melissa tells Trump that she let Kristi get under her skin, but in the future, she’ll keep her feelings in check.
Trump has heard enough and asks Kristi which two people she’d like to bring back. She asks if she can bring just one person, and Trump agrees. She chooses Jennifer. Just kidding – obviously, she picks Melissa. It was a gutsy move on Kristi’s part not to take a second person, since her chances of getting fired were higher, but I think it was good. Really, it’s between her as project manager and Melissa to be fired. Why throw in another person as padding and risk alienating her on future tasks?
After the women leave, Carolyn says that she found Melissa disruptive, but she didn’t like Kristi’s marketing, either. George notes that the entire team hates Melissa. Trump sends the women back in. Melissa tells him that she is a good person and a hard worker. She is usually a positive person, but she let Kristi get to her. It won’t happen again, and she adds that her mistakes were not the reason they lost. Kristi disagrees, and says that if they’d convinced just one more person to take the class, they would have won, and that Melissa’s negativity might have kept it from happening.
Melissa then attempts some revisionist history. She mentions that all of the women said Kristi wasn’t a good leader. Like me, Trump didn’t remember that happening, and says he only heard that they all don’t like Melissa.
Melissa isn’t surprised- all women hate her. Carolyn raises her eyebrows at that one. Melissa begins to dig her grave a little deeper as she explains that women are intimidated by her because she is so beautiful and smart. Trump points out that the other women on her team are also beautiful and smart. Carolyn looks disgusted by the entire notion Melissa is spouting. She then points out that Melissa is on a team full of women. “Do you think you have a shot of getting out of this if you can’t work with women,” she asks. Also, is Melissa under the impression that she’d be heading a Trump company made up entirely of men? Carolyn asks how Melissa can possibly win without working with women. George adds that she is creating a hostile environment. Hey, and George is a man! Why is he intimidated by Melissa? How odd!
Melissa tries again to say that she isn’t the reason she lost the task. She starts to say that everyone said she did a good job, but Trump interrupts her to say that isn’t true. He says he was not impressed by Kristi, but that Melissa can’t get along with anyone. Melissa is fired. Trump adds that Kristi should not feel proud of herself, because she wasn’t great either. With that, the two women leave the room.
Trump and Carolyn agree that he had no choice. Carolyn says that if Melissa can’t work with women, she can’t be successful. Of course, I’m sure the reason Carolyn – and I- don’t like Melissa is that we are women and are thus intimidated by her. It’s a shame.
In her final cab ride, Melissa says she’s not shocked that the other women didn’t like her. She says that if she’s going to be fired, she might a well be the first to go.
Finally, we get some quick shots of what we can expect this season. Cute Josh! Carolyn in charge! Stormtroopers! I’m so there.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She’s confident that if you didn’t like this article, it must be because you are intimidated by how beautiful she is. Those not intimidated can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org