The Apprentice: Los Angeles, Episode 9 – Soap Gets in Your Eyesby Betsy Wasser -- 03/19/2007
Previously on The Apprentice, Surya finally got fired from Arrow. We all knew it was only a matter of time, right?
Nicole begs everyone to “please think about winning.” They’re all very happy to see James and Tim again. No one on that team thought much of Surya, especially not as a project manager. James and Tim report that Surya fought really hard. Tim says they didn’t spend much time attacking each other. He and James agree that there’s no tension between them. Frank says that if you’ve been called back from the Boardroom, it’s your turn to step up and be project manager. James says he’ll do it. This is his chance. Cool – James intrigues me, and I’d like to see more of him. One of the (many) things I don’t like about the winning PM repeats angle is that we haven’t gotten to see much out of a lot of candidates. Does Trump like Angela for any reason other than her athleticism? And Stefani seems really smart, but is she?
The Trump Phone rings, and the candidates are directed to meet Trump on the set of Passions. Nicole has a miserable time getting in the outdoor shower on a very blustery day. She yells that the water is going everywhere. There’s a lot of screaming. Of course in the meantime, the people in the mansion enjoy a placid morning. In the van on the way to the task, Nicole is still screeching about her horrible shower. I think I foresee a “Nicole is a shrieking harpy” plotline, don’t you? She is totally geared up about going to see Passions and says she’s a huge fan.
Trump chats up one of the stars of the show, and it’s pretty creepy. Watch your back, Melania. Trump tells us that Passions is a highly rated show, rather ironic, given that the show was cancelled recently. Anyway, the teams will be creating 45 second soap opera webisodes to promote Soft Scrub Deep Clean Foaming Cleanser. The executives from the sponsor will judge the soaps and choose the best. Trump says that someone will be fired “like a dog.” Because dogs get fired? I think Trump’s hair is on a little too tight, because he’s not making a lot of sense these days.
Kinetic talks about their skit. I’m going to call them skits, by the way, because I don’t really like typing out “webisode.” They want to talk about “washing away dirty secrets.” The team seems to be working well together, but Muna asks a lot of very detailed questions about the plot. Muna, you’ve only got 45 seconds; there’s only so much backstory you can get.. She is also bugging the hell out of Kristine, who says that Muna completely disrupts the flow of thinking on the team. She needs to shut up, Kristine says.
Kristine and Heidi plan to take on the acting roles, and they want Muna to handle the timelines because she is so detail oriented. It makes complete sense, as that is definitely her strength. However, Muna says she’s much more comfortable in front of the camera. That strikes me as absurd, because it’s not like she’s an actress. Kristine says she wants her to be in the place she’s most comfortable, so she makes Muna the housewife and Heidi the slutty neighbor. She thinks Muna is difficult to manage, so she’s giving in I think to shut her up.
They continue to work out the plot, and Muna says she refuses to say the lord’s name in vain. I do believe there’s also a bit in the Bible about adultery, which is the subject of the skit, but Muna seems unconcerned about that.
Arrow works out their shoot. James says he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing, but he’s going with his gut. Nicole and Tim will be acting opposite each other, but Tim keeps forgetting his lines. Nicole says in an interview that she came up with the story, which is about a guy who is cleaning his bathroom because he’s getting ready to propose. Because guys often propose in the bathroom? Whatever, I’ll let that one go. She thinks that playing opposite Tim is just adorable. Amusingly, we then cut to an interview with Thim. Tim says that it’s “completely hideous” because they’re so newly together. Pretending to propose is “massively awkward.” In the story, Tim starts to propose and Nicole interrupts to say she got a job in New York. James seems pleased with how it looks, but Nicole has more ideas for how to shoot the scene. James is all for it. They add some close-ups at Nicole’s suggestion. James thinks that her being a soap opera fan will really come in handy..
Kinetic shows Muna rushing to Heidi’s house for more Soft Scrub. Muna thinks that Kristine should be around, but she and Angela have gone to get props. In the car with Angela, Kristine says Muna is too sensitive, so she thought it would be easier to let her act. Angela nods in agreement. But back at the set, Heidi says it was really hard to both act and direct. Somewhere, Warren Beatty nods in agreement, right? They’re having trouble getting the shots right. Kristine returns with the lipstick, which clearly they needed two people to go buy. After all, they bought two colors! Angela says she’s surprised that the two actresses haven’t gotten farther. Kristine jumps in and starts directing. Muna questions her directions. Kristine thinks Muna would drive Trump crazy if they worked together.
Arrow is happy with how things are coming together. Frank and James can’t wait to see it. “Show me the money!” crows Frank, taking us in the wayback machine. Tim says in an interview that he and Nicole have a better idea of how to put things like that together than James does. James meanwhile admits that he realizes they know better than he does, so he’s willing to let them run with it. Frank continues to yell “Show me the money,” because he is apparently a relic from many years ago. Frank’s happy, but Tim has more tweaks. Frank thinks he is doing too much and might spoil it. He compares it to putting too much stuff in your tomato sauce. Stefani looks completely pained by the slow process.
Kinetic reviews their footage. Muna talks very fast, and it’s hard to understand her with her accent. Kristine is very worried. Heidi thinks it was a mistake for Kristine to leave during the first part of the task. Angela says that Muna says the product name too fast. She was flustered, and that made her talk too fast. Angela makes several good suggestions for the editing to improve things. Heidi says that it was hard to make sure the story still made sense and the product was highlighted.
Kristine made a huge mistake by letting Muna have her way. She may well have been concerned that Muna’s accent would make her difficult to understand, and I believe that her suggestion that Muna handle the detail work was more than mere flattery – Muna really does excel at things like that. Instead of letting Muna do what she wanted to appease her, Kristine should have been strong and told her know. The team would have been stronger for it, and surely she could work around any sulking Muna might do. Kristine really proved herself to be a weak leader.
The next morning, Arrow goes out for a team breakfast. Frank says they were all prepared, so there was nothing else to do. Well, that’s impressive. Everyone feels really confident. James says that in the unlikely event that he loses, he doesn’t want to bring anyone else into the Boardroom. He says it’s been a delight working with all of them. The rest of the team isn’t so pleased with what sounds like a goodbye speech.
Arrow arrives to present their webisode. Stefani does the presentation, which is a great idea, because she’s so smooth. The skit begins with Frank and Tim talking about Soft Scrub, then frantically cleaning the bathroom. You know, like men do. All of them are horrendous actors. It ends on a cliffhanger – will she move, or will she accept his proposal?
Kinetic is next. Muna talks a mile a minute, so I cannot understand a word she’s saying. The “cheating neighbor” storyline doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the final image, of Heidi frantically cleaning off a lipsticked message on a mirror, is excellent. The executives seem to agree, saying that one had a stronger cliffhanger, but the other had better branding. It’s kind of sad when “branding” boils down to “saying the product name in a clear manner,” but there you have it.
Trump arrives. James says he thinks they hit the message. Kristine says that Heidi was a great cliffhanger. Both true. The executives like Arrow’s easy to follow message and brand integration. But, the ending wasn’t very dramatic. Kinetic had a great cliffhanger, but they couldn’t follow the story or the dialogue. Sounds like a slam dunk for Arrow. Trump is surprised. Trump tells us that Ivanka will be back (finally!) and will sit in the Boardroom with James. For the reward, Arrow will fly to Sacramento to meet Governor Schwartzenegger. Trump says that the governor knows a lot about leadership. Frank is absolutely giddy with excitement.
Kinetic sorrowfully moves out of the mansion. Heidi says that moving back and forth is a pain, and she hates to lose. Kinetic complains about the gross state of the camp, including dirty pans. Heidi shrugs that it’ll give them something to do.
Meanwhile, Arrow gets on a private jet to Sacramento. James says that, as a fellow immigrant, he can relate to Schwartzenegger and admires his success. They meet in the governor’s office, where they’re served tea. James asks Schwartzenegger how, as an immigrant, he got past his hardships. The governator says that people gave him a hard time about his name and accent, but he never listened to “it can’t be done.” He talks about the many opportunities in America, so long as you’re hungry and willing to go through pain to get there. He relates it to a scene in Conan that was difficult to film. He says pain is temporary, but that scene will be on film forever. This inspires Nicole to keep working hard to meet her goal.
Muna says she doesn’t know what else she could have done. Heidi tells her it’s between her and Kristine. She thinks it was a mistake for Kristine to go to the store, but Muna made mistakes as well. She says she’s neutral, but will be honest and fair, and try to keep her mouth shut. There’s a great shot of Muna reading the Bible and Kristine reading a Trump book. Muna vows to fight as hard as she can. She says that reading the book would give her the guidance she needs. Fine, but Kristine then goes on to say that Muna’s choice to read the Bible was a mistake because “God is not the one in there making decisions. Mr. Trump is the one in there making decisions.” Wow. Way to completely not understand someone else’s faith.
Trump asks if the executives saw “any stars.” They don’t really know, but think that the person behind the camera should have made better decisions. That’s a big mark against Kristine. The candidates arrive, and it’s nice to see Ivanka again.
Trump says it’s going to be a tough Boardroom for him, because he likes all of them. Kristine says they had a good idea, but that the result was hard to understand. Kristine tells Ivanka that she’d wanted to act, but she let Muna do it. Ivanka says Muna was not articulate. Muna says it didn’t come through well. Kristine says that she asked Muna to handle the details, but that she was not comfortable. Ivanka asks Muna why. Muna says she “simply stated a preference” because she likes making presentations. Kristine counters that Muna made it clear that what she really wanted to do was act. Kristine says she had to deal with a difficult employee, and that she wanted to keep her happy. Ivanka clarifies – Kristine thought Muna was so potentially disruptive that Kristine was willing to take a backseat. She put herself in a position she couldn’t control. Kristine says that they had a limited amount of time, so she thought it was in the best interests of the team. Trump can’t imagine how that could be the case.
Ivanka points out that the executives didn’t meet Kristine and that the lack of product integration must have been her fault. Kristine says that the scene that best showed the product had to be cut. Heidi concurs, saying it was hard to understand the dialogue in that part. Ivanka thinks that someone should have told Muna that it was an issue. James asked if they rewound along the way to see how it was going. Muna says Kristine could have done that. She can’t believe she was disruptive and calls herself “a lamb.” At first, I thought she was calling herself a lamp, so that at least makes more sense. Trump says she’s not a lamb, but a strong woman. Muna agrees that she is very focused and driven.
Muna would fire Kristine, of course. Angela hesitates to answer. She finally says that they are equally responsible. Muna is amazed. Ivanka asks who is generally stronger. Angela hesitates again, but says she’d prefer Kristine. Muna can’t believe it. Heidi says that both are “great workers.” Trump calls Heidi his “former superstar.” He asks her, based on past tasks, who did the best. Did Angela do okay? Heidi says that Angela was behind the scenes and did very well. Muna asks who Heidi would want on her team. Heidi doesn’t want to answer. Trump points out that it’s either very smart or stupid of Muna to ask the question. He explains this fairly simple concept to us about a zillion times. Shut up, already, Trump, so that Heidi can answer the question. Muna says she respects Heidi’s opinion, then puts her on the spot again. Heidi says that she respects all of them, but “based on life experience,” she’d choose Kristine.
Trump says that Muna is a risk-taker for asking that question. He repeats again that the risk could have – and did – backfire on her. Muna says that Heidi had repeatedly told her that she’d choose her. Heidi defends herself, saying that Kristine is not a weaker player. Now all of a sudden, Heidi is on the spot. Will Trump capriciously fire Heidi? I guess not, because he fires Muna.
Trump says that although he liked Muna, her question backfired on her. Muna says goodbye. Heidi says she hated the pressure of having to choose between them. She says it was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do in her life. If that’s true, Heidi has had one easy life.
Muna says she appreciated the opportunity she got. She was surprised that everyone ganged up on her. “What goes around comes around, she says.”
This is a week in which a double firing would have been completely justified. Muna did a terrible job of presenting herself. She truly is a distraction at times, with her sometimes overly detailed focus. It is okay to have an accent, but it is not okay to rush and mutter your way through a commercial. But Kristine should have known that Muna wouldn’t have been a good choice as an actress. She should have insisted on using all of her resources to their fullest. She also should have let Angela handle the all-important lipstick task on her own so she could be there to direct the shoot.
In general, I didn’t like this task. Trump isn’t hiring soap opera writers, directors, or actors. He isn’t hiring advertising executives. But those are the skills that were tested in this task. The end result was not especially useful.
Next week, the teams will be reorganized. Can Nicole and Tim handle being apart?
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org