The Apprentice 2, Episode 9: Destruction and Rebuildingby Betsy Wasser -- 11/05/2004
As always, the candidates are hanging out in the suite wondering who will be fired. Wes figures it’ll be Elizabeth. Andy thinks that if Elizabeth stays cool, Raj will be the one to go. Obviously, Andy has yet to witness one of Elizabeth’s infamous crying jags, or he’d know how unlikely that is. Then, much to everyone’s surprise, five out of the six candidates return to the suite, so they quickly learn that Trump didn’t even want a second act in the boardroom – he fired Elizabeth on the spot. Chris tells them what happened, and everyone is shocked. Maria says you just never know what’s going to happen in the boardroom.
Apex gets out the little slips of paper to choose their next project manager, and Raj is the lucky winner. Kevin thinks that Raj is really on the hot seat. Raj must think so too, because he asks Kevin how he can improve on his last performance as PM. It’s very cool that he asked – it shows that he’s willing to take constructive criticism. Kevin says Raj did well last time, and that he should make sure everyone is well coordinated. Raj says, “I better win this one.”
A shirtless Kelly answers the Trump Phone. It’s delightful that none of these boys bother to wear shirts around the suite. The candidates are to meet Trump at the penthouse at Park Avenue. When they arrive, they all immediately don hard hats. This cracks me up – looks like Trump doesn’t want to risk anyone getting hit on the head with a tiny bit of plaster and claiming a concussion like Omarosa did last time around. Trump, who is not wearing a hard hat, undoubtedly protected by his hair, tells them that they’ll be working in real estate. His associate Matthew will be filling in for George, who is away on business. How come Carolyn never goes away on business? (Don’t email me the answer about how she runs one of his golf courses in New York and thus has no cause to go away – it’s just a joke… which I have now ruined by talking about it too much.)
The candidates will go to Long Island, and they’ll each have $20,000 to renovate a house. Trump adds, “Make sure you spend it on the house and not on the women, Raj.” At the end of the task, the houses will be appraised, and the one with the highest increased value will win.
And now for the twist. Trump tells them, “In life you have to work with people you don’t like.” To illustrate that point, Trump is bringing back the first four candidates to be fired: Bradford, Jennifer C., Stacie, and Rob. Rob and Jennifer will join Mosaic; Stacie and Bradford will be on Apex. As the fired candidates come out to join the others, everyone looks very uncomfortable.
Jennifer C. says that the mood was very tense back in the suite. She believes that Ivana should have been fired that week instead of her. She then tells Ivana as much, saying that if she’d brought her to the boardroom, Trump would have fired her. Jennifer adds that she brought the two weakest members of her team, Elizabeth and Lil Stacy. Since Trump has fired both of them now, obviously she was right. Right, Jennifer, but it could be argued that you were even weaker than either of the two of them, but why ruin a perfectly good rant? In an interview, she asks, “Ivana, what have you done besides lose money and make mistakes?” I can name one thing she did: she beat you, Jennifer.
Meanwhile, Stacie and Chris talk in the hallway. Chris says this is her chance to redeem herself. Stacie thinks she needs to set the record straight, starting by asking the other women “why they lied about me.” She approaches Ivana first. Wow, Ivana has not made friends, has she? Stacie asks very directly why Ivana told Donald Trump she was crazy. Ivana claims that she felt unsafe around Stacie. Stacie demands, “How were you in danger?” Ivana tries to wiggle her way out of the conversation, but Stacie keeps repeating, “How were you in danger.” Go, Stacie! Jennifer C. watches the whole confrontation with a big smirk on her face. Considering that she doesn’t like Stacie or Ivana, I’m not sure what she’s so smug about. Ivana claims that Stacie requires a lot of supervision, and Stacie argues that the opposite is true – Ivana is the one that needs supervision.
The argument escalates, and Stacie tells us in an interview that she made herself calm down. That ranting lunatic! Ivana walks out of the room, and Chris tries to calm Stacie down, saying, “It’s business.” Stacie says that it’s personal because the other women made it personal, which is true. Interestingly, Chris has spoken twice in this episode, and not once have I wanted him to shut up. That’s a new record.
The Trump Lesson of the Week is rather specific this time around: Control Your Contractor. Trump says that your contractor might not have an MBA, but he or she knows a lot and should be taken seriously. They’re tough and smart, and it’s important to pay attention to what they’re doing. I think it’s pretty safe to guess that this lesson will factor in pretty heavily into which team wins this week.
Apex checks out their house, and it’s in pretty sorry shape. They want to add siding, put a bathroom on the second floor, and Raj wants to knock down a wall to turn the four bedroom house into a three bedroom house. The rest of the team isn’t so sure that’s a good idea. I wish I knew why Raj wanted to do that. Are the bedrooms really small? Does Raj think the house will sell better with a big master bedroom? It’s never explained what he’s thinking. Jennifer thinks Raj lacks common sense. Chris, on the other hand, thinks that Jennifer is not a team player. There is no chemistry in their team, and Jennifer is too confrontational. Raj concludes the discussion by saying that knocking down the wall will be no big deal.
Sandy is the project manager for Mosaic because she is the only one who hasn’t done it yet. It’s about time. Since she’s seen lots of other project managers before, she’s confident that she will have learned from them. Wes asks various contractors for bids and time constraints. Sandy thinks this task is an especially important one since Trump loves real estate so much.
At Apex, Raj has Bradford make a list of what needs to be done. Kevin has a referral for a contractor named Carlos, and he’s confident Carlos will be great. Raj asks Carlos how many guys will be working with him, because there’s a lot that needs to be done. Carlos assures him that it’s never too much work, and that he’s on it. In an interview, Bradford says that they hired Carlos largely on Kevin’s recommendation. Raj says that he’ll be nervous about Carlos until the task is over. Perhaps channeling that nervous energy, he starts to knock down the wall by throwing his shoulder against it. Ivana thinks it looks like fun, so she tries it and hurts her shoulder in the process. I must admit, I laughed. Raj says that knocking down the wall was great fun.
The next morning, Rob has gotten about two hours of sleep because he’s so eager to work hard and prove his worth. Indeed Rob seems to be everywhere, working his fingers to the bone. It starts to rain, and Sandy is worried about how that will affect the schedule. Kelly says in an interview that the responsibility for meeting all of those deadlines rests on Sandy’s shoulders. The pressure gets to be too much, and Sandy, afraid that the team is losing, stands alone and cries. Wow, nothing that bad has happened yet. Calm down, Sandy.
Andy is worried that the contractor won’t get done on time and finds a second group. Andy says they offered good work at a reasonable price. Some of the new crew get to work in the kitchen, but the rest apparently are helping by standing on the lawn watching. Andy likes them and thinks they’ll do a great job. Sandy just watches for signs of work getting done and hopes for the best.
On the other team, Raj is worried that his bathroom won’t be finished on time. He pushes the contractor on the deadline. In response, Carlos eats a taco and tells Raj not to worry about it. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it? Raj walks away, which is definitely not his best move. Jennifer says in an interview that Carlos doesn’t take Raj seriously. That’s in spite of the fact that Raj isn’t wearing a bow tie or carrying a cane at the moment!
Time is almost up (where’s Paige Davis?), and everyone works frantically to finish. Raj asks if the bathroom is done, and Carlos says it just needs grout. Worried about “the little details,” Raj goes upstairs to check it out. Oh, laws. The bathroom does not look good. Technically, I guess you could pee or take a shower there, but it’s a big mess and far from complete. Raj sums it up for us with, “It looked like nothing.”
Sandy, however, feels confident and proud of the house. She gives the appraisers a tour and recounts what they’ve done. There are new hardwood floors and new paint. The bathroom has a new toilet and sink. They’ve more than doubled the counter space and cabinet space in the kitchen, as well as adding new floors. And upstairs, they have new carpeting and a full bathroom. The transformation is impressive, and Sandy does a great job of presenting it.
Raj gives the appraisers a tour of his house. He shows off the new siding, and says that inside, they tried to keep things neutral to give the buyer a chance to make the house his or her own. The kitchen has new tile, new hardware, and now has a dishwasher. The carpet headed upstairs is new, but so much mud has been tracked on it that it already needs to be replaced. Ouch, that’s bad. Raj shows them the bathroom and says that it’s in place, even though it doesn’t look good yet. Matthew says the bathroom looks terrible. Raj then shows them how he’s made the four bedrooms into three. No one looks impressed. Raj says in an interview that he’s in real estate, so he “must win.” I’d be worried if I were Raj. Not only did he have a lot to apologize for in his house, but he also didn’t give as confident a presentation as Sandy did.
The teams head for the boardroom, and they all look exhausted. Matthew says that Apex’s house originally appraised for $385,000 and is now valued at $412,500, an increase of 7.14%. Carolyn reports that Mosaic’s house was worth $390,000 and is now appraised at $430,000, an increase of 10.26%. Mosaic wins! Rob especially looks thrilled. As their reward, Mosaic will take a helicopter to Trump’s friend Denise Rich’s house in the Hamptons. And Jennifer and Bradford get to go with them to enjoy the reward – but they have to leave afterwards, because Trump fired them. Trump tells Apex he’ll see them in the boardroom, and asks Stacie and Bradford to come too to give their opinions.
The Mosaic team piles into the helicopter for a spectacular flight over New York. Wes says that the trip gave him a taste of Trump’s power and greatness. Next, they arrive at Denise Rich’s house in the Hamptons, which is gigantic. Denise encourages them to take a few minutes to enjoy the grounds, which is something that I’m totally going to start telling people when they visit my townhouse. The team hits the beach, and they’re having a blast. Andy says that just as food tastes especially good when you’re hungry, this reward was especially great after all of the hard work they’ve been doing.
In the suite, Raj tells Jen that he’s upset with himself – he should have gotten rid of that contractor, but he didn’t because Kevin advocated for him so strongly. Jennifer says that it’s easy to blame Raj for the loss, but that at this point, you have to think about who you want on your team. Do you want someone who will step up and take responsibility for their mistakes, or do you want someone who will play under the radar? She tells Raj that she thinks Ivana is weak and doesn’t contribute to the team. She offers to go after Ivana in the boardroom to help out Raj. Ooh, interesting.
Looks like Jennifer herself is unwilling to go under the radar, because the very next thing we see is Jennifer confronting Ivana about not contributing. Ivana disagrees, and the two argue. Jennifer says in an interview that she hopes she intimidates the other people on her team because she wants to be known as someone who expects people to take responsibility for their actions. Ivana says that she worked very hard on the task and says that her hands are sore from it. Jennifer scoffs, “You lost dismally as project manager, and you’re barely contributing. You think you’re going to bring me down?” Man, if Ivana doesn’t get fired, Jennifer has now made it next to impossible for the two of them to work together, which is not smart. Jennifer concludes the segment by saying that she’s going to back Raj. She thinks he’s smart and a good leader.
In the boardroom, Trump is sporting a tuxedo. He explains that he has an event after this, and admits, “I’m dressed a little formally for this firing.” He asks Raj what went wrong. Raj says it’s simple – they were over-promised by a contractor who under-delivered. The contractor did a bad job, and Raj says that ultimately, he hired him and is responsible.
Bradford says that Raj is the best natural developer. Trump doesn’t think so – having four bedrooms in the house was better than the three that Raj left them with. Bradford then says that he admires Raj for taking the blame for hiring Carlos, but that Raj hired him on Kevin’s strong recommendation. Kevin admits that’s true. Then, Bradford tells Kevin to admit it. Um, he just did, Bradford. Looks like you were preparing that next line instead of listening. Bradford says that they needed a better contractor. Well, we can all agree on that.
Jennifer says that Stacie did a great job on the task. Trump, perhaps feeling bad for the whole “Stacie is mentally ill” debacle, makes a point of saying how well Stacie did on the task and that she deserves everyone’s praise. I’m sure that doesn’t make up for the fact that a bunch of people confused “unpopular” with “dangerously unbalanced” on national TV, but at this point, Stacie looks like she’ll take what she can get.
But then, Ivana pipes up that Jennifer asked her to have Stacie quit working on the windows because she wasn’t doing a very good job. Trump asks the question we’re all wondering: “Why are you so nasty?” He says, and I agree, that it was totally uncalled for. Poor Stacie had to deal with the stigma of all of the bad things everyone said about her before, and she desperately wants to redeem herself. Why can’t Ivana just let her have it? Jennifer says Ivana is being begrudging, and Ivana actually tries to argue with her. Trump tells her, “Leave it alone.” Yes, please do. Stacie then says that she thought Carlos the Contractor was good at first and seemed like a go-getter.
Trump asks Bradford, “If you were me,” then goes on a short tangent about how Bradford wouldn’t want to be him, as Bradford is younger and better looking than Trump. Bradford grins and says that Trump has a pretty good looking fiancé, so he actually wouldn’t mind being Trump. Shut up, Bradford. Anyway, who would Bradford fire? Bradford names Ivana. She’s great at working out business plans, but in action she doesn’t contribute much.
Trump dismisses Bradford and Stacie. He asks Raj who he wants to bring back to the boardroom, and Raj names Ivana and Kevin. Before he heads back to the suite, Chris says he wants to make one point. Trump asks him if he’s sure, since he has absolutely nothing to gain from this. Chris insists, and tells Trump, Carolyn, and Matt that the chemistry on the team is horrible, and if things go on as they are, they will lose again. Carolyn immediately accuses him of being disloyal, and she’s totally right. Trump gives Raj a chance to also bring Chris to the boardroom after that remark, but Raj declines. Trump doesn’t like Chris’s statement at all. Carolyn adds, “Don’t tell us about it. Fix it.” Go, Carolyn! Trump wonders why Chris would feel the need to say that at all, and tells Chris that he will be project manager next week to show what he can do.
Remember at the beginning of this article when I said that I didn’t find Chris obnoxious and overbearing? Glad to know that the universe has righted itself again.
Chris and Jennifer leave, and Trump asks Carolyn and Matt what they think. Carolyn likes that Raj took responsibility for his actions, thinks Ivana worked hard, and that Kevin picked a lousy contractor. Matt agrees with her about Kevin and Ivana, but thinks Raj didn’t execute his plans well.
Raj, Kevin, and Ivana return to the boardroom, and Trump asks Raj why he picked Ivana. Ivana immediately chimes in, saying she’d certainly like to know why she and Kevin were picked. Trump again says what we’re all thinking – that Kevin was an obvious choice because he recommended the contractor. Also, shut up, Ivana. Trump asked Raj why he picked you, and if you’d let him, he’ll tell you why. Then you can argue with his reasoning. Kevin denies choosing the contractor, and Raj and Trump tell him that we all know better than that. Kevin then admits again that he did recommend Carlos, to which Trump says, “And that was a big mistake.” Matt says that if he were to recommend a bad hire to Trump, it would be his fault.
Ivana says that she “plugged holes” in Raj’s vision. Raj says that was his job, and that he didn’t need Ivana to do it too. Ivana then says that Raj “requires adult supervision.” This is now about the 100th time Ivana has used that line. She actually used it earlier in this very episode about Stacie. It must be the only criticism she can think of to use, because I have no idea how that might apply to Raj, ever. Regardless, Trump thinks Ivava shouldn’t be there.
Trump goes on to say that Raj made a lot of mistakes – backing a bad contractor, taking out the fourth bedroom, and not bringing Chris to the boardroom. Raj is fired. Trump says, “Too many mistakes. Go.”
Well, I liked Raj, and I think he’s definitely a better candidate than Ivana, for example, so it’s a shame he’s not still in the running. But he definitely made some key mistakes that lead to the team’s loss. He could have fired Carlos, hired more people like Andy did on the other team, or badgered Carlos more insistently to get the job done. And while it’s admirable to take responsibility, Raj didn’t go about it quite right this time. He should have said that he hired Carlos on Kevin’s recommendation and taken responsibility for not getting rid of Carlos, not for hiring him in the first place. I also think that knocking down that wall was a big mistake. Not only did losing a bedroom affect the value of the house, but it was also a time-consuming project that may have taken resources away from finishing that bathroom. The bathroom should have been the focus. Sadly, it made sense this week for Raj to go.
Luckily, Raj isn’t exactly crying into his scotch. Before he gets in the elevator, he asks Robin for her phone number. She tries to ignore him, and he asks if she has a boyfriend. Finally, he says, “All right, I’ll be back,” and heads downstairs. Our boy Raj has a sense of humor. He’ll be just fine. Raj, if you’re reading this, I like your style. Raj heads to the street and loads a cab with his suitcase full of bow ties, two-tone shoes, and canes.
In his confessional, Raj says he learned to be consistently on the attack. He wishes he’d gone after Kevin and Ivana more strongly, but that he’s a gentleman. He ignored his own good sense. Then, he says that he thinks Robin was intimidated by him. “But, I’ll get it at some point.” Way to leave us smiling, Raj.
Next week, my least favorite candidate Chris is in charge… of a bridal salon. Oooh, awesome! I hope that my other least favorite candidate, bridal shop owner Sandy, takes his jerk down. And does one team get into some kind of accident? Plus, we’re promised a “boardroom beating.” I am so there.
Betsy is the Associate Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached with any comments at email@example.com.