The Apprentice: Los Angeles Finale – Stepping Upby Betsy Wasser -- 04/24/2007
A horrendously long list of technical problems precluded me from not only recapping last night’s recap, but also watching it. I am now watching it online. It probably says a lot about the lack of popularity of this season of The Apprentice that not one person emailed me wondering about the recap. I’m not that excited about this season either, but of course I’ll have more to say about that as time goes on.
We’re live at the Hollywood Bowl, and a bunch of people, including Sean and Omarosa, are chanting Trump’s name. He arrives, flanked by Ivanka and Don, and there are fireworks as Trump pumps his fists. Someone in the audience is holding a poster that says, “TEAM WHITE TRASH.” Those people are so fired later. Trump says that it’s great to be broadcasting from the place where Sinatra once performed.
Trump reminds us that this season was different from any other, in that it took place in Los Angeles. He gives us a quick recap of the season, including the twist that the losing team lived outside in tents each week. He tells us it was “a classic battle of the haves and the have-nots.” Winning Project Managers joined Trump in the Boardroom to help him make his decisions. Frank was the first losing PM, but Trump admired his tenacity. We go over all of the people who were fired, including Carey in his tiny bathing suit. We see James bringing the Laker cheerleaders in for the sightseeing task. His team lost, and Michelle quit. Tim and Nicole hooked up, and the audience hoots and hollers appropriately.
We see Nicole improving the webisode challenge by having them switch up the camera angles. We see a bunch of quick firings, including the surprise firing of Heidi. James and Stefani face Frank and Nicole in the final four, working in teams on an air freshener commercial. Trump says that both teams felt pressure. Frank questions the hospital setting of their commercial. James micromanages the actress in his shoot while Stefani works to reign him in. Trump didn’t fire anyone yet – the final four will face him in the Boardroom for his final decision.
Trump brings out the final four – Stefani (even more gorgeous than usual), James (looking pumped), Nicole (cool necklace), and Frank (excited as ever). Trump tells them that he will fire three of them shortly.
Trump brings out the other candidates. Surya changed his hair, and it looks good. Kristine is posing for Playboy, so if you want to see more of her, you’ll have the opportunity. Angela tells Trump that he should hire Stefani or James – they’re both great. Stefani tells Trump to hire her. Trump says that one of their videos was better than the other. We watch Frank and Nicole’s video first, followed by James and Stefani’s. Trump asks Stefani if James was a good partner. She says he was. Should Trump just choose him? Stefani says no—behind every great director is a great producer, and that was her role. Trump tells James that “something sometimes seems to be missing.” James disagrees -- he’s creative, but can also handle practical matters. In this case, he was a leader, and as such, delegated scheduling tasks to Stefani, as that’s a strength of hers.
Trump asks Frank who came up with the concept for their commercial. Frank says it was a team effort, with him directing and Nicole editing. She came up with the concept. Nicole says Frank was a strong director and can get things done. She loved working with him.
Trump asks Tim who he’d fire. “Stupid question,” Trump answers himself. Tim says he’d pick Nicole, which makes everyone laugh. He agrees that he has no credibility on the subject, but adds that Nicole volunteered early to be a PM. Surya says that his opinion of Frank has not especially changed. He says that Frank is a good guy and has worked hard. Aaron says that James’s technology background makes him the best choice.
Trump tells us that this will be “a nasty evening,” and that two people will be fired shortly. It actually hasn’t been remotely nasty so far. All of the candidates have been professional and respectful. It’s good to see.
I’m sure Trump will screw that up soon, though. Heaven forbid they don’t all hate each other and try to rip each other’s faces off.
Trump tells us what the two prospective jobs are. The first is overseeing the construction of a “luxury resort complex” in the Dominican Republic. It looks beautiful, of course. The second project is working on Trump Towers Atlanta. Construction begins this summer, and Trump says that the units are “scheduled to be sold out very, very quickly.”
Trump asks the candidates which they’d choose. Stefani would choose the Caribbean because she’s worked in law and construction, so she’d understand it from the ground up. James says that Atlanta excites him, because he’d have the opportunity to be closer to Trump and learn from him. Nicole says she likes to think big, so she’d choose the Caribbean. As for Frank, he’d love to work in Atlanta and thinks he’d do a great job as part of the team. He says his dream is to build skyscrapers.
Ivanka says that she was a bit disappointed in Nicole and Frank’s contribution. She asks if they’re still proud of it. Nicole says that their commercial showed the many product uses, but thinks it came across a bit choppy. Don thinks that “spraying down a bum” was offensive. They also question the choices of Tim and Surya as team members. Frank says that he chose Surya because of his experience. They picked Tim for his loyalty. Frank says that Surya cares too much about his integrity to do a poor job.
Trump asks the final four which two people he should fire. Stefani names Frank and Nicole without hesitating. Trump is not surprised. She says that she is loyal to James and thinks he’s performed better. Trump says that, listening to Stefani, maybe he should hire James right then and there.
Stefani then completely cranks up the awesome. She tells Trump that actually, her advice would be for Trump to hire her, thus giving her the opportunity to hire James to work for her.
Honestly, he should have hired her right then and there, because that was so smooth. The crowd goes nuts.
James would also fire Frank and Nicole. He’s loyal to Stefani, but happy to battle it out with her in the end. Nicole would fire James and Stefani. She doesn’t think either has done anything “singally well.” She thinks Frank could work for Trump, though perhaps not as the Apprentice. Frank would fire Stefani and James, saying that the two rely on each other too much, with neither one emerging as a leader. He says, when asked, that he is better than Nicole. Trump thinks his answer was weak; I think it was polite.
Trump says that Frank made a mistake by hiring Surya – not because of Surya, but because they didn’t get along. He also wasn’t impressed with their commercial. Frank is fired. As for Nicole, he believes in romance, but not inter-office romance. Trump says he wants her to love him more. Frank and Nicole, class acts, congratulate James and Stefani, shake hands, and join the other fired candidates.
Trump shows Stefani’s video. She is gorgeous, driving along in a convertible, talking on her cell phone. She defends California employers and developers, explaining that you have to be tough. She says she gets pushed every day, so she pushes back. She is a pro at dealing with difficult personality types. Then, she goes to karate class and literally kicks ass. She says she’s a fighter and can take care of whatever Trump gives her, and with class.
James is up next. He tells us that he used to be a sales and marketing executive, but now he has his own company. He says it’s a risky thing to do, but “you only live once.” He tells us that he came to the country as an immigrant and wants to live the American dream. He has two little girls who are absolutely adorable. He has been married for four and a half years, and seeing his wife and daughters every day makes him feel complete. He says that his story isn’t just about him, but about teaching other people to dream big.
Trump brings out special guest George. It’s nice to see him again, after being George-less all season. George says that both of them are very talented. He’s concerned that James loses focus along the way and needs to see the big picture. He thinks Stefani didn’t show quite enough leadership. Trump thanks him and sends him on his merry way.
Ivanka asks about the criticism that they’re co-dependent. Stefani says that she works on a business and legal perspective all the time on a huge scale. Trump says she never stepped up as a leader. Stefani says she was the glue that held the team together. James says that he is a leader that gets in front of everyone, where she is more behind the scenes. Don asks if James can see the big picture. He thinks James got lucky in the final task. James says he’s the current CEO of his own company, which he has started from the ground up. He can see details and the bigger picture.
Trump accuses Stefani of flying under the radar. Stefani says that she was respected by everyone, never took credit for other people’s ideas, contributed, and made her team look good all the team. She filled in the spaces where she needed to, and “that’s what a leader does.”
Trump asks Heidi who he should hire. Heidi says that although she likes James, Stefani is “the epitome of a strong woman.” Kristine agrees, adding that you don’t have to “scream the loudest to be the strongest.” He thinks she kept “the frat boys under control.” Frank says that they’re both great and won’t pick a side. Surya recommends Sanjaya, which Trump doesn’t appreciate.
Ivanka says she’s proud of both of them. She is concerned about Stefani never volunteering to be project manager. Stefani starts to answer, but Trump interrupts her to go to commercial.
Stefani says that she wasn’t afraid to step up. She volunteered to lead when Surya was fired. She adds that she was never brought back into the Boardroom and that no one ever said anything bad about her. Don says that whoever wins must give it his or her all. Trump thinks they’re both outstanding and congratulates them.
Stefani has gone under the radar, but has gotten along. She’s “obviously brilliant.” James is “terrific in every respect.” He loves his creativity, but “there are certain things and certain dialogue… that bothered me very much.”
James is fired. Stefani is hired.
More fireworks go off, and Stefani gets a bunch of congratulatory hugs. Trump, flanked by his children, looks smug and pleased with himself. Trump concludes with “we’ll see you soon,” which you’ll note makes no assumption that there will be a seventh season of this show.
Well, that’s it. I think that Stefani and James both would have been excellent choices for Trump. The fact that Stefani was never project manager probably has more to do with Trump’s “PM For Life” twist than with her own desire to lead, and I really wish she’d said so. As for James, I think he was an excellent candidate. Why did he get fired? Well, apparently he said something that offended Trump. What was it? Frustratingly, Trump didn’t tell us. Just saying to James “you know what you said” is just not adequate. If we’re supposed to be invested in the results of this show, you need to make us, the audience, a part of it.
As a result, we had a lackluster end to a lackluster season. Ratings have been seriously down, and the buzz that this show once enjoyed has almost completely died down. My hope is that there won’t be a seventh season. The concept has run its course.
Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed writing about this season, and especially hearing from my readers. Thanks for reading!
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org