Celebrity Apprentice, Episode 6: The Hydra Juggernautby Brian Towers -- 02/08/2008
Last week, Team Empresario finally scored a win. But really, this episode was all about Vinny Pastore. Vinny got trapped reliving his Soprano days in a performance that will soon be rewarded in The Reality TV Hall Of Shame, ending with his decision to quit in the Boardroom. At least the closing homage to The Sopranos was kind of nifty!
This week’s action begins back in the suite with Empresario greeting Hydra on their return from the Boardroom. Specifically, Omarosa goads Piers and Lennox. Omarosa and Piers end up arguing, and in a clip that’s been run constantly in previews, she dumps the remains of some perfectly good champagne on his head. Classy (not)! Well, it could have been worse… it could have been falling plaster dust!
Next, Baldwin meets Piers in a hallway and says he can’t work with him. He calls Trump’s secretary and arranges an immediate meeting with Trump. The Trump kids are still there, too. Baldwin says he wants to quit because he can’t work with Piers. Trump offers him the alternative of changing teams instead, and that’s what happens.
Baldwin returns to the suite to inform everyone what has transpired. No one on Empresario goes into a dance of victory or even offers to high-five him. He tells Empresario, “If you tell me to make you coffee and shut up, I’m more than happy to do that.”
Piers and Lennox think he’s pathetic and, shaking their heads, leave the room. Trace soon follows. As he leaves, Piers says, “No one is going to fall for that, Mr. Baldwin!”
It gets better. After Hydra leaves, Baldwin informs Empresario, “I have a previous engagement. I actually will not be involved in the next task. I have to speak at a church…” He wants to explain further, but Omarosa cuts him off to be sure she understands that he’s bringing his drama to their team and then taking the first day off. “Correct,” confirms Baldwin. Eyes roll.
It’s the next day, and time to assign the task. With Trump are his son, Don Junior, and our old friend, George Ross, plus designer Vera Wang and a guy who turns out to be an executive from Serta.
Trump welcomes Tito back and brings everyone up to speed on the Baldwin saga, ending by asking the competitors, “What do you think of that?” Not recognizing an obviously rhetorical question, Omarosa pipes up immediately to “respectfully decline” the offer.
Trump responds, “I’m the boss. Steven is going to be on Empresario.” Well, that settles that!
For your reference, here are the team rosters at this time:
Vera explains that the task is to design a living window display to promote a new Serta mattress that she has designed. Judging will be based on “creativity, brand imaging, and entertainment value.” In other words, judging will be completely subjective. Trace is sure that Hydra is screwed.
Trump adds that $20,000 will be donated to the winning charity and sends them on their way to start planning.
The first item to decide is who will be the PM. Omarosa steps up for Empresario, and she immediately allocates tasks. Carol is named creative director and will also manage the talent. Nely is assigned marketing and accounting, and Marilu gets to work with the construction crews. Omarosa expresses a theme she’s come up with: “The perfect marriage, Serta and Vera Wang.” It ties into Vera’s connection with wedding dress design and the team likes this idea. They are going to use Carol in a wedding dress, and Stephen as the groom. It seems like they are off to a good start!
Meanwhile, Lennox is the PM of Hydra. He instructs the team that there should be no creative ideas voiced until they find out about Vera Wang. Piers uses the internet to discover the Vera Wang – wedding dress connection, but that she is now branching out. He says they need to learn the importance of the bridal theme to Vera in this project.
Piers notes that none of them are much in touch with their “romantic, sensitive, feminine sides,” so it’s lucky for them that the next step is to meet with the sponsors to learn more. Vera confirms for them that it’s valid to incorporate the wedding theme, but she adds that they are growing beyond “only bridal.” The Serta guy informs them that this project is a merger of comfort with style and romance. When questioned, Vera reveals that she spends a lot of her free time reading and watching TV while on her bed.
Back at the suite, the men arrive ready to begin planning. Trace says that he looked at his notes and got the idea, “The world’s greatest romance deserves the world’s best mattress – Vera Wang by Serta.” He continues, saying they should look to one of the strongest women in history, Cleopatra, and her romance with Mark Anthony. The team loves it. Another excellent concept from Trace!
Empresario meet with the sponsors next. Omarosa asks Vera to rate the three judging criteria, and she says creativity is most important to her. I’m sure there was more, but that’s all we see.
It’s now time for the teams to meet with their graphic designers, and we see Hydra do so first. Lennox insists that people ask for permission before speaking. Piers thinks it’s stupid. Trace waves his hand wildly like a second-grader with a bladder issue, and is ignored. Lennox also insists on voting on every little thing.
At one point, Lennox wants a vote on whether there should be a TV in the display or not. After asking for permission to speak, Piers says he wants Lennox to show more leadership. He says Lennox has already heard what they think, and he should make the decision on his own. Lennox’s response is to say that his decision is… that he wants to have a vote on it!
Soon, even after requesting permission to speak, Lennox won’t let Piers talk. In fact, Lennox won’t even hold a vote to decide if Piers can speak! Hoo-boy! Funny stuff, but unproductive.
Over at Empresario, the team meets with their graphic designer right in their window space. Omarosa notes that Marilu is not communicating well with him. Ideas seem to be pouring out of Marilu so fast that even at the rapid pace she’s talking, she can’t keep up with them, and she’s jumping between topics too quickly.
After the next commercials, the teams are assembling their displays. Empresario has a little script ready for Carol and the absent Stephen that sounds maybe a tad Harlequin Romance Novel-ish. Omarosa is concerned that this may be too edgy for her and too complex to execute well. Meanwhile, Nely is becoming enamored with Omarosa and says that she trusts her and is inspired by Omarosa’s passion and vision. However, Marilu feels Omarosa is covering her butt, and that she will stab you in the front, never mind the back.
At Hydra, all four of the men are laughing over Lennox’s lack of direction. It doesn’t look good for Hydra right now, who seem to be foundering badly.
Later that evening, Baldwin has returned and rejoined Empresario. After hearing of their plans, Baldwin tosses out a bunch of suggestions that he says will put his own stamp on things. Nely does not welcome this help, as his ideas will “change the whole vibe,” plus, it’s too late to do most of these things anyway.
Baldwin says, “I’m just trying to take in everything you’ve done, and then pepper it with a little Stevie B!” I say, “Yuck!” Nely’s face has that “sour milk” look and she now has zero interest in his ideas. So much for Baldwin’s plan of just sitting back and making coffee!
With only half an hour to go, Tito and Lennox are running about the streets hunting up props like champagne, food, and fabric. Their actors (it seems both teams were allowed to hire actors) are getting dressed, but time is tight.
Viceroy George drops by to observe Hydra. He doesn’t think anything is missing, but he isn’t sure they will have time for a lot of the finishing touches, either. Lennox comments that as guys, they aren’t good at “the finicky stuff.”
On Empresario, it’s also a last-minute time and Don Junior is on hand to observe. They are sweating the small stuff, like making sure candles line up and pillows are placed correctly. It looks like they are good to go!
Vera sees the Empresario window first. I don’t see a lot of signage, and thanks to some beautiful bed linens, I don’t see the Serta mattress either! I do like the trademark Serta sheep (#58), but it’s off to the side. Vera gushes over the spectacle, and Omarosa is positive they have won.
Next, the sponsors travel to Hydra’s window and are greeted by Piers. As he explains the concept, I see signage with Trace’s great slogan right over the bed and prominently naming both sponsors. When the camera pulls back, the Serta tag on the mattress is front and center, and no linens encumber the product. No sheep, though!
Vera again responds most positively, mentioning the slogan and how they combined the age-old romantic theme with using the bed in a non-traditional way. After hearing Vera’s reactions, Lennox is sure it is he who has won.
The teams assemble in the Boardroom to hear the results. After Baldwin says it was better working with the women than Piers, Piers reiterates that things went smoothly “after the New York quitters had left us.”
Omarosa tries to attack Piers’ tolerance and intelligence, but he responds, “For four ugly blokes to take on some glamorous women and Omerosa in a challenge is not easy.” George liked that one! It seems like every time Omarosa engages Piers in a verbal battle, she gets killed.
Trump wants to find out about Lennox as a PM, and turns to Trace for an opinion. He starts choosing his words carefully, but the tale of Lennox making them raise their hand to speak comes out.
A bit later, Piers relates how they learned from Vera Wang how “they are moving away from bridal stuff into a much wider range to appeal to all women based on romance.” The subtle yet scared look on Omarosa’s face – priceless!
Trump asks Nely her impression of Omarosa as a leader. Nely the toady says Omarosa is a rock star, they jelled well, and, “We finally have our Mojo.”
The next opinions come from the viceroys. Don Junior calls the Empresario approach “more conservative” but adds that they worked well together. George thought Hydra was “extremely creative” and entertaining. He adds that it may not have been beautiful, but it was “eye-catching.”
It’s time for Trump to announce the winner. He says Vera liked both windows a lot and felt she understood them. But when he weighs in the Serta executive’s opinion… Hydra wins!
Lennox tells us that his $20,000 will go to The Muhammad Ali Center.
Piers offers Empresario his commiserations and wishes Omarosa “bad luck” as Hydra heads back to the suite. His precise enunciation and phrasing makes that so funny that I laugh right out loud.
Trump now turns to Empresario to find out what went wrong. Carol says that they asked the same question about the future direction of Vera Wang and got a different answer. Why we saw this comment without seeing the corresponding part of the sponsor interview, I cannot say. But one thing we did see was Vera Wang emphasizing creativity, which the men had.
George says that Vera’s obvious connection with weddings makes the Empresario solution seem unimaginative. He adds that it wasn’t terribly entertaining either, but does give them credit for branding. I actually think that the low-visibility branding of Serta is how they lost this task, but maybe I missed something. Trump wants to know whose idea the wedding theme was, and after a reminder from Don Junior, Omarosa fesses up.
Trump asks Baldwin whom he would fire. He says he’d base it on a task-by-task basis. Trump counters that he past always enters into it; you can’t forget past tasks. Heh. It seems like Trump always asks Baldwin a “theory” question, and then disagrees with the answer. In retrospect, that was a clue how things were going to proceed.
Baldwin adds the team worked great together, but from what he saw, Marilu had the most questionable performance. Umm… you missed most of the task, dude! Omarosa picks up on that and says it’s hard to communicate with Marilu when she gets into full-speed mode.
Trump starts to probe for whom Omarosa might bring back to the final Boardroom with her. She says it will have to include Steven “by default,” because he didn’t contribute a full day’s work and she cannot measure his performance. Don Junior points out that he wasn’t a factor in the decision that made them lose.
Trump compares that response to Gene Simmons in Episode 3, and says, “Nely was the beneficiary of that, in all fairness.” He adds that he thinks bringing Steven back is a mistake, but it’s her decision.
Trying not to make even more enemies than she has already, Omarosa asks if they can all face the final decision together because they have been such a team together. Nice try… but for reasons that are unclear to me, Carol and Marilu nod their agreement! Nely is immobile, perhaps stunned because she can’t believe how well Omarosa picked up the “Kumbaya” spirit from her. However, George is shaking his head and Trump isn’t having any of that either. No sale… Trump wants two names.
Forced to choose, it’s Marilu and… Nely. What, her worshipful, loyal, toady Nely? What in the name of Donald Trump put that name into her head? In the suite, the men are sure Omarosa is going home.
Trump tosses them out and solicits input from his aides. Don Junior has no real help, but George comments that TV producer Nely ought to have seen they were astray and taken corrective action.
Asked why she chose these two, Omarosa says she didn’t get sufficient creative feedback from Nely, and Marilu didn’t communicate well because she doesn’t listen. Trump finds the source of that comment amusing and Trump Junior calls it “the definition of irony.”
Omarosa blames both of the other women for a lack of creative guidance. Nely and Marilu are just sitting there, taking it.
Trump comments that Nely has been lucky not to be fired twice. Finally, Nely fights back. She points out that Gene Simmons didn’t bring her back to the Boardroom because “he thought I was excellent,” and that wasn’t her being lucky. She points out that Trump keeps bringing it up and doesn’t see why he can’t see past it. Trump responds that Gene made “a critical mistake” in not bringing her back to the Boardroom.
Nely adds that in fact, no one has ever brought her back into a final Boardroom. She again wonders why that topic keeps coming up, and Trump says, “Because I always revert to the past.” That’s true – he told Baldwin that earlier!
But we’re done. Nely is fired.
As they leave the room, Trump tells Omarosa that she needs to step up, because Piers is killing her. Even she admits that is true.
In the cab ride, Nely talks about her charity, Count Me In, which helps female entrepreneurs.
Next week: team switch-ups. Omarosa and Piers together on the same team... who didn’t see that coming? Lennox and Carol have front-row seats, meaning it’s Marilu, Baldwin, Trace, and Tito on the other team.
My Comments: Nely’s time ran out. I credit Omarosa for dodging another entry in the Reality TV Hall Of Shame by picking up on Trump’s hints and calling Nely back to the final Boardroom.
For those who are unaware, Gene Simmons has now been officially accorded a Reality TV Hall Of Shame Moment for his disrespectful exit from the game in Episode 3. Click here to read relive all the gory details.
My thanks to reader “Kate,” who last week sent me her thoughts about the Empresario shoe campaign while I was still working on the recap. She said it better than I was going to, so I incorporated her thoughts with mine to produce the opinions you read here.
Here’s some thoughts for next week. One, I can’t see anyone breaking into a final four of Baldwin, Piers, Omarosa, and Marilu, but I could be wrong. Do you?
Two, how about those new teams? Who will win the next battle of the Rolodexes? Who is the more creative group?
Readers are invited to share their opinions at the eAddress below. And next week, join me here for a recap of all the new 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 email@example.com. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email.
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