The Apprentice: Los Angeles, Episode 1 MVP and LVP – Dude, Where’s My Car Wash?by Jennifer McBride -- 01/10/2007
At first, the world was only darkness. There were moans in the silence, crying for light, for sustenance, for warmth. “Who will shelter us? Who will feed us?” the unwashed masses cried. “Who will tell us who are the most and least valuable players to grace the tents of The Apprentice: Los Angeles?”
And on the sixth day God answered their cries and called forth a new, quirky RNO writer. He saw that she was good. The unwashed masses raised their television remotes in the air and sobbed with unabashed joy. And on the seventh day, God rested, knowing contentedly that His work was complete.
My name is Jennifer McBride and I’m the newest addition to the stable of RNO’s stallion writers. I like carrots, breaking stable doors, and The Apprentice, mostly because the show has many deep levels of irony and is like capitalism on crack. This season, I will be gracing the throne of the self-appointed Apprentice Goddess and watching those who please me, mocking those who don’t. If I had a scepter, I could condemn the unfortunates to die by gladiatorial combat. Lacking that, I can only pray that someone kindly street gang decides to surround the LVPs and thwack them with very smelly herrings.
There are three components to becoming an MVP: assisting the team, excelling individually, and entertaining me. Hopefully my decisions are somewhat less arbitrary than Mr. Trump’s. After all, I don’t have an artfully arranged hairpiece trying to gnaw its way through my brain.
Without further ado:
The name isn’t my idea. NBC’s website has given each of the candidates a title to help us viewers remember the stereotype officially assigned to them by Mark Burnett. Heidi is “the Hottie” so, as long as it remains under her leadership, I dub thee “Team Hottie.”
Most of the contestants blended together, so I’ll only evaluate the ones that had enough camera time to leave me with a lingering first impression.
Heidi: You were the leader first out, a difficult job considering that The Apprentice is full of type-A personalities who are desperate enough to wear three-piece suits under the sun in L.A. However, you pulled it off with style. You managed to establish order in the tent challenge, got said A-personalities to hand-wash cars without much complaint, and pulled off a challenge victory. The free lunch idea was good, though you gave people a bit too much time to enjoy it when you failed to push the cars through.
In the after-challenge phase, you pointed to Martin as the weak link, correctly guessing that someone who does something would be less hurtful to the opposing team in the long run than someone who is, in all likelihood, a bad follower who will constantly second-guess the leader – especially since his entire team pretty much said he should go! Keeping Frank around at the very least keeps the dispute between him and Tim alive, deadening the other team’s morale. I might be giving you too much credit, but when I see the label hottie, I’m thinking of your hot, scintillating brain.
Aimee: We didn’t see much of you this week, but the tilt of your head and the angle of your nose reminds me a little of Heidi from Season 1. Let’s hope you live up to her awesomeness!
Other than that, everyone on this team seemed unusually even-tempered and, well, normal. Except for the excessive attractiveness, that is. On to the losers.
So one night, the producers all got drunk and started arguing about a gimmick to unnecessarily humiliate contestants. “I know!” says Darrell Drunksalot, swaying back and forth from his perch on a three-legged lawn chair. “Let’s make the losing team live in tents in the mansion’s front yard! Ooh, and let’s not turn the sprinkler off! Hee Hee!” Well, that’s how I imagine it happened anyway. Actually, the Tent City idea does encourage slackers not to leave everything for the leader. While previously, only the project manager and his enemies took the fall for poorly run tasks, now everyone sinks or swims together.
Frank: You know how close a call that was. I watched your Boardroom performance and I could taste your desperation. However, passion alone isn’t enough to win an Apprenticeship. You also have to adapt. Trump has the annoying tendency to yell every statement, but he’s hosting the show, and you aren’t. If you don’t lower your voice, your team will soon be wearing ear plugs.
The fact that your team managed to come so close to victory considering you were absent so much of the time probably shows that you have some very effective salespeople on your team, not that you have any stellar leadership skills. When a team nearly succeeds not because of you, but in spite of you, you know that you’re probably going to be on the way out. Personally, I think Trump should consider the a) small signs, b) fact you ran off twice, and c) price point shenanigans over calling your opponent a genius, but whatever tops your tower. I don’t mind you taking over the tent task so much. You might be loud, but at least you seemed to know what you were doing.
Martin: Supervising? From a ROCK? While your talent of moving your eyeballs in the direction of your teammates would undoubtedly be valued in the Trump organization, perhaps lifting a finger or two might be to your benefit.
I can understand your non-pushy sales approach – nobody likes a bully. But this is a competition, and one more sale would have pushed you over. I can forgive the request to go to the bathroom – everyone’s jokes go flat occasionally. Especially the Trump-meister himself. The funniest thing about Trump asking who did the worst at the winner’s benefit was the very forced laughter. The checkered shirt, however, I cannot forgive. That and calling yourself the “best Apprentice ever” for being able to deflect the blame to Frank. Oh yeah, drawing attention to a losing team leader, now there’s a challenge. Not like winning or anything. It’s a big red flag when you trail behind the rest of the group, talking, talking, but nobody hears. I do admire your snakiness, however. But even snakes have to stop supervising and dig lairs every once in a while.
Aaron: You’re cute as a button and look like you’re small enough to fold up and fit in my pocket. I hope your soft-spoken nature continues when you get more camera time. I also like that you referred to Frank’s absences as “good delegating.” That’s a great euphemism.
Tim: I like the fact that you weren’t afraid to take charge, either in setting the price points or in heading the sales force. I think that you’re too honest for your own good, however. What possibly could be gained by attacking Frank to his face in the middle of Tent City? The first rule of strategy is to not reveal your intentions to a soon-to-be-former-friend until your stab in the back will be crippling. All you did was create team discord to absolutely no avail. You made an enemy when you didn’t need to, and gave an opportunity for the entirety of the other team to hear your dirty laundry. Without your screaming match at Frank, perhaps Heidi would have pushed for Martin in the Boardroom, figuring that he might generate less friction. The proper thing to do would be to save all your venom for the Trumpster, and to have released it reluctantly. It probably would have saved you a trip to the elimination three. I worry that your NBC nickname is “the musician.” That doesn’t bode well.
Carey: Bonus points for being upfront with Frank about what wasn’t working and taking the initiative on the cardboard signs. You didn’t just note a problem to complain about later, you actually did something about it! That shows a kind of not-just-cover-my-butt confidence that is sorely needed on this show. I look forward to seeing more of you.
James: You apparently sold well, like Tim, but I have the feeling you’re the kind of person who smiles to someone’s face and trashes him or her to the camera. That’s a talent that’s going to take you right to third place in the Trump organization.
Steffani: Ooh, big negatives for comparing a backed-up sink to living in a third-world country. Here’s hoping you get dysentery! Nice try, telling Trump he should fire both of them. I don’t know if it made you any friends, though, and given Trump’s antedated views on woman, maybe you don’t want to be perceived as a witch just yet.
Nicole: How are you going to manage the chaos of the final task if you can’t face down a lizard? I hide my face in shame at the antics of my gender. But I do admire your ability to deliver a good joke with a scratchy voice, and the fact you were willing to diverge from the rest of the group and choose Martin to go.
Those were the only people who stuck out to me. So who does the Apprentice Goddess declare to be MVP and LVP for this week?
Congratulations, Heidi! I grab your delicate forearm and pull you up to sit beside me on my throne. You managed to get girls in high heels to scrub cars, and they still respected you in the morning. Congratulations on your first challenge win – the first, I suspect, of several to come. A long enough run, and Trump could dump the others and just hire you right around episode five. Beware false pride, however, as Amy from Season 1 found out: the higher you fly, the farther you fall.
And I wave my imaginary scepter at… Martin. I’m so glad you’re gone. If I had to hear one more old saying, I would have thrown my Trump bobble-head straight through the window. You have no self-awareness and no subtlety. Now we will let you be pelted with rotten fish.
Things I’d like to see this season on The Apprentice:
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