Celebrity Apprentice, Episode 3: A Rooster in the Henhouseby Brian Towers -- 01/18/2008
Last week, the two gender-based teams made a commercial to support pet adoption. Gene Simmons and Nely Galán stepped up to be Project Managers (PMs). Few task details were shown, but we were led to believe the no outside help from wealthy friends was enlisted last week. We saw Gene decide not to waste time speaking with either the client representative or Ivanka Trump. She was initially taken aback, but by the time she got outside, Ivanka decided that was rude of Gene and brought the issue up in the Boardroom for daddy’s benefit. Gene apologized, albeit somewhat unconvincingly.
Largely due to the efforts of Stephen Baldwin, the men’s team (Hydra) won again, sending Team Empresario back to the Boardroom. Although Nely didn’t show us much skill as a leader, Nadia Comaneci was fired instead.
Here are the team rosters as this episode begins:
Action begins back in the suite with the contestants discussing possible outcomes of the final Boardroom that sent Nadia home. Correctly assuming how it will turn out, Piers reminds an embarrassed Jennie that when it came down to it, she nominated Nadia to go home. His point is correct – to win, you need to be willing to vote out all the other competitors.
As the revelry continues, Carol and Nely are about to return to the suite. However, Nely is crying uncontrollably. She later confesses to us that the Boardroom process was “brutal, brutal, brutal… and traumatic.” Carol helps Nely regain control, and as the duo re-enter the suite, Team Empresario immediately retreats to chat. Omarosa says that when they win, the men’s house of cards will come tumbling down.
Trump meets with the remaining contestants, accompanied by his eyes and ears… what we at RNO call “his viceroys.” This week, they are his daughter Ivanka and Jim Cramer, from one of CNBC’s business shows. Two others who also pile out of the limo turn out to be Kodak executives.
Trump gives the PM of the last winning team (Gene Simmons) a $20,000 check for his charity, The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Trump then suggests to Gene that to even up the numbers, Gene could switch teams and lead Empresario! I don’t think this is really fair. It’s not fair to Gene, because he was just the PM, and it’s not fair to the women, who are trying to win money for their charities.
After a few seconds of consideration, Gene accepts the change in assignment and tells Trump, “You’re the Devil.” In a later sound bite, Gene tells us he’s happy to be “King of all women.”
The two Kodak executives assign the next project in tandem. The celebrities are given use of a trailer, a camera, a printer, and (as we learn later) graphic designers, to create and operate a mobile printing station for Kodak. Subjectively, the winner will be chosen based on “originality, brand messaging, and profit.”
Gene tells his new teammates that his leadership style will be a “benevolent dictatorship.” Omarosa doesn’t care for that, but no one reacts. Gene then suggests that only two of the team needs to meet with the product sponsor. He later confesses that he doesn’t want to “hear the party line,” and, confident in his abilities, assures us, “I am Mr. Outside-the-box.”
Gene then tries to develop the perfect slogan. He initially suggests, “It’s a Kodak world, and we all just live in it,” and Nely loves it. Gene thinks that’s almost perfect, because it implies a link between “Planet Earth” and “Planet Kodak.” Um, okay, but I think that one comes from “Planet Gene.” As it morphs into, “It’s a Kodak world, welcome,” Gene assures us, “The task is over. Checkmate in one move.”
On Hydra, Tito is chosen as PM. The whole team meets with the sponsor to learn what they want the focus of the event to be. What they learn is, Kodak is really selling a new ink and printer combination that is (allegedly) ultimately less expensive to the consumer.
A little later, Nely and Carol represent Empresario in their meeting with the Kodak duo. Nely blurts out that she didn’t know Kodak even made a printer. Smooth! She asks many more questions, even interrupting at times, and the process get bogged down in meaningless diversion. By the time it’s over, even the Kodak folks no longer seem enthused by efficient photo printing!
On their return to the rest of the team, Nely proudly announces that the important points are that they’re selling printers (true, partially), and, “they are bringing printing home again.” To her credit, she did pick up on the word “affordable,” but it’s all moot. Gene cuts Nely off (probably her with six more pages of priceless notes to impart) to say, “They’re wrong.” As he hasn’t heard anything that negates his beautiful slogan, I think he is secretly satisfied how clever he was to dodge that useless meeting.
Gene later tells us that he fears that Kodak may not understand what they need. He ends by saying, “I am pretty damn good. If I was sitting on the sidelines, I would say, ‘Gene Simmons, you are a powerful and attractive man.’” If he really is as good as he thinks he is, he would discern that Kodak knows what they want and Nely messed up the message. And let’s not even TOUCH “attractive!”
Ivanka walks into the meeting room where the men are trying to brainstorm a theme. Although not the PM, Stephen Baldwin is taking control. In reality, he’s running amok – up on the table at times, and babbling endless, meaningless slogans. It is bugging Piers. PM Tito is never shown uttering or writing a word.
Miraculously, out of the blue, Baldwin comes up with the hot slogan, “Kodak presents the ink revolution that’s going to knock you out!” Wow, from the bottom of a muddy pond, up comes a diamond!
The scene shifts back to Empresario, where Gene is directing the mounting of graphics on their trailer. Nely asks Gene what sign he is (because that matters?), and he replies, “Dollar signs, baby!” A smitten Nely sees herself as the CEO to Gene’s Chairman, a situation that probably arose because she fawns over him the best. Meanwhile, the other women are doing all the physical labor.
At Hydra, Baldwin announces that he needs Tito and Lennox to pose for a picture ASAP. All three are atop the tables. The concept is that the mighty Kodak printer has knocked out Tito and Lennox.
Piers correctly points out that their shirts need to be off, because they don’t fight professionally wearing a shirt. Baldwin complains about the time that will take and warns Piers that if they miss the deadline, he will blame Piers. By the time his whining is finished, I think the shirts are already gone.
Both Trace (to Piers) and Vincent (to us) express some concern that a picture of a topless male makes them nervous. As neither gent in the picture sports man-boobs, I don’t understand that. Calling Dr. Freud!
In the next scene, as the fighters and Baldwin dismount the table, it tips, throwing everything else that was on it into disarray. Coffee spills over one of their computers and eight hours of graphic design is lost. They try to wipe it up and the less computer-savvy among them hope it will be okay in a few minutes, but Piers can’t even get the doorstop to reboot. Piers tells us, “Stephen Baldwin managed to pluck total disaster from the jaws of obvious victory.” Say what you will about Piers, he gives good sound bites.
I’ve been in the computer business for a long time, and as soon as I saw how much coffee had flowed through that laptop, I knew this machine was now Jersey landfill. But I also know that anyone who has fluids sitting on or right beside their hardware is courting disaster. Heck, I’ve done it… but I also know it was a preventable occurrence and the blame is mine!
On review, I think the cup belonged to the lady graphic artist. However, Piers plays the game well. He lets Baldwin know that Trump will hear that Baldwin spilled the coffee. He’s not completely wrong, as there is no reason for Baldwin to be mounting the furniture.
The team is understandably upset by this turn of events. A Plan “B” is quickly developed, which turns out to involve finding an all-night printer to generate comparatively substandard products.
Over at Empresario, it becomes apparent that Gene doesn’t even remember the name of the product they are promoting, and has to write it on his hand. Omarosa wisely explains, “It’s hard to sell something you don’t know!”
Gene has decided to use the women’s beauty as a resource. He tells us, “God has given them beauty, (and) it would be an insult to God’s creation to hide the beauty that God wants everybody to see. Think of it as… doing God’s work!” Sure enough, the ladies are the ones acquiring customers and doing the demos. It’s more probable that it might be an excuse for Gene to avoid performing actual work, though.
Viceroy Jim arrives for a look-see, and Gene leads him by the wrist like a petulant child, pointing out the highlights of his vision. Gene is sure Jim is awed and ends with his standard, “You’re a powerful and attractive man!” Alas, Jim, only one of those is true.
Meanwhile, the Hydra trailer is being decorated with banners. The banners look better than I expected, but one banner is falling off and most of it looks like it has been decorated by a bunch of husbands. When viceroy Jim comes by for an update, he says he loves the prominent messages about the ink, but pans the sloppy presentation. One side of the trailer is completely undecorated! Jim thinks their trailer looks like a dumpster.
The next ones to go visiting are the two executives from Kodak. They check out Empresario first. Gene the flim-flam man schmoozes them with one of his patented smooth and calm presentations, and it seems well received.
Back at Hydra, the men are at least promoting the link of Kodak and ink. Tito tells us they are selling some printers, but he’s happy they are spreading the good word about Kodak’s new product line. Dude… have you forgotten how you are being judged? At this point of the day, two of the criteria are pretty much locked down, and now, only pushing sales matters.
Suddenly, Alec Baldwin rolls up. Unsuspicious dude that I am, I know he’s just here to meet the guys and it’s just an amazing coincidence that (gasp) marketing is going on. Stephen explains the product to Alec, who tries to break his chops. In a cameo, Alec confides, “There’s no one more full of crap than Stephen, so he sounds like a good salesman.”
Later, Alec admits that he came intending to buy, but appreciates that Stephen put an honest effort into his pitch. Alec buys a couple of cartridges for $1,000 each. Piers tells us he is glad Alec came, adding, “It showed everyone what a real Baldwin is.”
Oh Piers, so wrong! Today, in preparation for this episode (okay, not really) I watched the movie Earthstorm, starring S. Baldwin. He’s not bad in it, especially considering how similar it is to Armageddon… minus creditable science, plot nuances, or, most importantly, an iconic rock anthem for a theme. Oh, one feels a necessity to make fun of Stephen, but do you know he has well over a hundred entries on IMDb? I mean, who can ever forget his work as “Gutter Pup” in The Prodigious Hickey, I ask you? Seriously… if you were able to forget it, please tell me how!
But let’s get back to Hydra. The Kodak executives arrive to inspect operations. Piers does the presentation. He admits he lays it on a bit thick, but the message is right.
Task over, Trump meets with the Kodak folks. The report is pronoun-laced and obviously edited to mislead us, so I’m not positive exactly what they are saying about which team. My take is that Trump learns that Hydra’s presentation is sloppy, while Empresario has a great slogan. Overall, they are pleased. I believe that means that they figure they don’t have to stay up all night writing a press release full of apologies!
That night, teams are assembled in the Boardroom to hear the results. When asked how it felt to lead the women, Gene replies, “exhilarated.” A creepy smile follows. Omarosa doesn’t agree so readily.
Trump probes Gene about again ditching the meeting with the sponsor. Gene chooses to explain his “Kodak world” vision instead.
Trump turns his attention to Hydra, and Tito is forced to relate that they lost their presentation to a coffee spill. We don’t see any repercussions though, which might be an indication of where this is going.
Viceroy Jim is asked for his comments. He comments on Hydra’s sloppy look and says Empresario had a superior presentation, but adds that Hydra hit the message.
Trump clarifies the earlier discussion by informing everyone that the Kodak executives preferred Hydra’s effort. Hydra wins again, for the third time!
It is also mentioned that Hydra won sales-wise as well. But I still have to wonder if Alec Baldwin wasted money that could have been spent the next time Stephen leads a task? Or were the two subjective items a wash, with the money as the deciding factor? We’ll probably never know.
At any rate, Trump tells Tito that $20,000 will go to his charity, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that St. Jude’s is well known for their work in cancer research. The men are sent back to their war room, where they can watch proceedings on TV.
Trump begins to dig to find out what went wrong. Gene insists, “We could not have done a single thing better.” He says he respects Kodak, but if they don’t agree with his vision, Kodak is wrong.
Even Trump has no reply for that, so he turns to Omarosa. She says they had no plan, and because they never met with Kodak, didn’t understand what they were supposed to deliver. Her tone is way more subdued than when she was attacking Tiffany or Nadia.
Ivanka relates that the biggest complaint she heard from the Kodak executives is that they felt Empresario never heard the message that this is all about the ink. Gene’s response is to call his presentation “seductive” and to say, “Kodak can be wrong.” Carol and Omarosa smile… little smiles, but the camera caught them.
Ivanka (dressed in something that would get you booted in Week 3 of Project Runway, by the way) opines that Gene stuck to an idea he believed in, even if it isn’t the right concept. Gene interjects, “We succeeded, and the client didn’t recognize it.” Ivanka responds, that won’t fly in this environment. In the war room, the lads gleefully sense Gene is in trouble.
Trump turns his inquiries to Nely. He reports that the clients said she talked too much at their meeting and didn’t listen. Carol Alt is called on for details, and I’m sure Tiffany at home notes how she is surprisingly slow to comment this time. Trump forces a response, and Carol admits “we” talked a lot. Trump tries to get her to say that Nely is the big talker, but Carol seems committed to shielding Nely. Eventually, Gene interrupts/wants the spotlight back. He takes ultimate responsibility for the final product.
Gene starts to reiterate his thought that Kodak is wrong, but for a change Trump interrupts him to call him a loser. I swear, he’s never said those words more gently in his life. The Donald is clearly biased heavily to keeping Gene and his fat-wallet friends in the game.
Omarosa jumps in to report that Gene didn’t know the name of the printer. Even reading the information still written on his wrist, he still gets it wrong! “I don’t care,” Gene says, “I sell emotion!”
Trump now has his traditional trip around the table asking, “Who would you fire?” This question comes every week (even if we don’t see it) and I remain dumbfounded how many times it catches people off guard.
Carol is first. She takes a long time to say that it should be either herself or Nely. Gene interjects, “You couldn’t be more wrong on both counts. She’s wrong. I would hire both of them.” A version of Mr. Trump I’m more familiar with fires back, “Good, congratulations, because you might get the chance!”
Jennie is asked next. She also stalls, and the men in the war room encourage her to, as Piers says, “Fire the bullet!” Finally, she nominates Gene. Omarosa agrees, as does Marilu.
Nely names Jennie, which catches Trump (and most everyone else) right out of the blue. Apparently her fault is following direction well.
Or (gasp) dare I say it, could it be, her real fault is that she nominated Gene? Shocking!
Trump asks Gene to pull two people back into the final Boardroom. Gene asks if it can be one person, and he names Omarosa. Trump says Omarosa is not the reason they lost, and after further discussion Trump makes him pick another name, and even goes as far as to suggest the sponsors don’t like Nely. Gene reluctantly names “Miss Finch.” Viceroy Jim has an instant migraine.
In the middle of all that, the fact that Trump is quite willing to sacrifice Nely has not gone unnoticed in the war room.
Trump sends the candidates out of the room so he can discuss things with his viceroys. Trump shakes his head; he is clearly uncomfortable over what is certainly one of the clearest, most obvious decisions in the history of the show, right up there with Vera and Bradford. The guys in the war room are as astounded as we are, or more, at how this is transpiring.
With just the three of them there, Ivanka has no help for daddy this week either. Viceroy Jim suggests that Gene’s choices are “insolence” to Trump.
Trump clearly doesn’t want to fire Gene, because he knows how ratings work. Jennie offers slight hope, because she doesn’t defend herself well. Lord, two of her PMs were Omarosa and Gene Simmons, how does she show leadership in those environments?
Trump says Gene is trying to assert his independence by being contrary, and it degenerates into mutual admiration/butt kissing over the next two or three minutes. This removes all doubt about the levelness of the playing field (or lack thereof).
Finally, Trump says he cannot fire either of the ladies, so it’s, “Gene, you’re fired.”
It’s time to go. Gene (who has zero luggage) gets into the elevator and says, “Down, Jeeves,” to the operator, and it makes me want to reground myself by rereading my P.G. Wodehouse, or possibly watching early Hugh Lawrie in my Jeeves and Wooster DVD set.
On the walk back to the suite, Omarosa whispers quietly to Jennie, “Trump wants to fire Nely!”
In her cab ride to the airport, Gene reiterates his feelings that he stands by his decisions and blah-blah-blah, I’m not typing that out again. Suffice to say, Gene will not be a spokesperson for Kodak anytime soon!
My Opinion: Clearly, Gene was bored and wanted to go home. Many of us saw this implosion coming, but we just weren’t sure exactly when it would happen.
Nely has had two horrible weeks. She’s in over her head.
And that’s all I have to say about this episode. It was an interesting one, and sure to generate some buzz.
This week, the obvious question is to solicit your opinions on Gene’s behavior – idiot or genius? Let me leave you with two quotes that seem on point this week.
Let me know what you think about it all at the eAddress below! And next week, join me here for a recap of all the action, sprinkled with my own reactions and opinions.
Brian lives in Toronto. He spent a couple of decades working in middle management at The Prudential, primarily hiding behind the coffee machines in generally unsuccessful attempts to avoid his pointy-haired bosses. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent articles on this show at our The Apprentice page and take a look at our sections on Project Runway and The Biggest Loser. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
For more news about The Apprentice, be sure to check out SirLinksALot: The Apprentice!