Celebrity Apprentice, Episode 9: No Use Crying Over Spilled Yogurtby Brian Towers -- 03/01/2008
Last week, the teams sold convertible ladders and carpet sweepers on QVC. Trace was understated, Marilu was hyper, and Team Empresario won for only the second time. Marilu Henner was sent home for her rambling presentation.
For your reference, here are the current team rosters:
This week’s show starts off with the Boardroom survivors returning to the suite. “Sleepy Boy is back!” says Omarosa, and Lennox agrees. He still doesn’t get it that he wasn’t contributing in the morning. Piers refuses to apologize for the nickname despite goading, primarily by Baldwin.
The next scene shows Steven Baldwin calling his mom to tell her he won another $20,000 for her charity. We learn that her nickname for him is “The Flea.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fleas as “small wingless bloodsucking insects,” and I’m going to leave it right there.
Next, Trump (wearing a trademark pink tie) meets with the teams to assign the next task. Two executives accompany him from Dial Soap, plus one (an editor) from Redbook magazine. Ivanka and George Ross are on hand as well. The task is to create a four-page photo ad for the soap that will be published in the magazine.
The product is actually named “Dial Nourishing Yogurt Body Wash,” which is about as unappealing as it gets for me. I mean, washing yourself in yogurt? That’s so wrong!
One of the Dial execs tells them the judging will be subjective, based on the areas of “creativity, integration of the brand, and overall message and content.” The teams have access to a photographer and a studio. Trump adds that the winner’s charity gets $20,000.
While Trump is still talking, Omarosa tells her team she’d like to be PM. However, as The Donald is requesting the teams to name their PM immediately, he includes the phrase, “…project managers have a pretty good chance of being fired,” and that changes her tune. Seeing the potential onrushing bus, she shoves Tito in front of it and he becomes Empresario’s PM. Hydra nominates Carol, who tells us she has graced the Redbook cover five times.
Hydra meets first with the three executives. Carol knows that getting the right answers to the right questions is all-important. She learns that the average reader is 37 years old, and Piers finds out that taste and good judgment are important to Dial. The team adjourns to a war room, where Carol thinks a simple, sexy story is called for, and they settle on four key moments in the life of a successful woman. Mr. Sleepy Boy thinks Piers is doing a better job of letting others talk this week.
When Empresario takes their turn, the team learns that Dial sees themselves as straightforward and honest. Redbook feels they have a deep connection with the middle of the country, and adds that their readers love Trace Adkins. Trace jokingly gives them a hard time for putting “ugly Tim McGraw” on the cover several times, but never himself. When they meet, Baldwin suggests Trace needs to be in the ad, suggesting he be in the bathtub with his boots and guitar. Trace blushes.
Team Hydra meets with their photographer. Hearing how young the available models are, Piers suggests Carol should be the model instead. Carol is concerned about wearing too many hats (as Marilu did last week).
Empresario also meets with their photographer. Omarosa tells us she feels Tito needs lots of help and guidance being the PM. She adds that really, Baldwin is the one guiding the team’s efforts. He’s willing to, because he has “innate” skills and, “People have told me I could run a studio in Hollywood, just because of the way I think.” From what we see, Baldwin is running this photo shoot while Tito is content to sit on his brains.
Back at Hydra, Piers has convinced Carol that it needs to be her face in the shot. With that, a S.W.A.T. team of support people file into the room. A couple of them are set painters and lighting guys, and about five do her makeup and hair.
Empresario is at a similar point. Omarosa feels their ad needs to be hotter for Redbook readers, and convinces Trace that he needs to lose his shirt and get into the picture. He’s a little taken aback and tells us he has “the tan of a vampire,” but he agrees to take part. The female assistants are grinning widely and Omarosa is positively giddy.
I note that in one shot that didn’t make it to the final product, Trace has his head down, and in another, his hat covers his face. Who directed those? How does a hidden face trade on his celebrity?
Baldwin is sure they have a great shot of shirtless Trace (fortunately, one where he’s looking at the camera). Ivanka comes into the shoot in time to hear Baldwin call Trace “a stud muffin.” She likes the country theme and the visuals, but wonders if it’s too racy for Dial. Really?
At Hydra, Lennox is reveling in his role as art director. Piers notes that since Lennox has had enough sleep, he’s doing okay. He thinks that’s because Lennox suddenly realizes how close he is to winning. I say he mathematically has a chance, but not much of one.
At one point, Lennox tries to get a second male into a shot with Carol in the bed, but she’s having none of that. Good for you, Carol. And while we’re at it, hiss-boo for Lennox!
George Ross is on hand watching, and he seems a little shy of being comfortable with the proceedings. However, from what I can see, some of the shots look pretty darn good.
At Empresario, the team is putting a final touch on their presentation. Baldwin thinks one photo is “Wow!” but Omarosa says it doesn’t do jack for her, and she’s the demographic of the reader. I’m sure that concept sends a shiver down the spines of the Redbook executives watching the show at home. Thing is, she’s right… the picture in question wasn’t good enough.
Tito tells us it’s hard to lead a team with both Baldwin and Omarosa on it, because they like to take control and they defend their ideas strongly. He feels he still has final say, though.
After earlier supporting the Trace shots, Baldwin suddenly does a 180. He says he thinks the Trace picture is too racy and he wants to play it safe instead. Baldwin is nothing if not inconsistent! He reads off four words he wrote down when they met with the executives: “Clean, healthy, trusted, family.” He tells Tito that if the other team goes “wholesome and family” and wins… and Tito’s head sags into his hands. I think he has a headache.
The first team to present to the three executives is Hydra. Piers does the presentation, and as usual, he’s smooth and interesting. They cleverly use two pages for one big picture of Carol in the tub. However, in the last one, it looks like the guy is biting Carol on the back of her shoulder. There were so many better, classier pictures that I have no idea why they went with this one.
It’s Empresario’s turn to pitch. Omarosa starts talking, with Tito distractingly shifting from side to side behind her. Omarosa passes off to Tito, who fumbles his part of the presentation rather badly. Baldwin feels the need to chip in an unrelated thought while Tito is pausing, plus Trace and Omarosa both correct Tito once. Let’s just be polite and say this presentation was not very smooth or professional.
Empresario’s spread is presented as though they have two two-page pictures. However, the second pair is unrelated, so it’s confusing. Plus, the hot ones with Trace have been excluded and he’s just in one picture.
Trump solicits opinions from the executives. The Redbook editor likes Hydra’s message. One of the Dial guys finds the message “sensual, but not over-the-top sensual,” but the other is not as comfortable with the fourth image and its biting. For Empresario, the Redbook editor finds their photos very professional, but doesn’t care for their text and doesn’t feel there is a consistent thread in the layout. The two guys disagree on the effectiveness of the metaphor of the outdoors for dryness.
In the next scene, the teams have been assembled in the Boardroom. Everyone gets a seat these days. It must be the same day, as the pink tie is back. Or he just likes it a lot. As usual, the process begins with both teams telling The Donald they are confident of victory.
Trump asks Tito why he was so nervous at the presentation, and he says he wanted to be perfect. He adds that Trump made him nervous. Not a clever move, that, but it slips by.
Trump speaks to Carol about him warning her about being the PM. She replies, “I’d rather be fired by standing up to a challenge than running away from one.” An unimpressed Trump says, “That’s a good line of crap,” which amuses Ivanka much more than Carol. Carol responds, “If it was crap, I wouldn’t have stood up. But I did.” That may not be as quotable, but the fact that she made any comeback to Trump’s stupid comment earns her points in my book.
Trump next belabors the “biting” picture, which Carol downplays as “a playful bite.” She adds that they included it “to push the envelope.”
Trump now has Ivanka show each team the other group’s proposal. Predictably, they take potshots at each other’s efforts. Trump points out the biting shot to Tito, who reports they had a similar concept with Trace, but chose not to use it. I wouldn’t call the two quite the same thing, but let’s get past that one.
Trump asks Tito if Trace looks good without his tee-shirt and Trace replies, “Yes, for his age,” which gets protestations from Trace and laughs from the rest.
Piers calls the Hydra ad “boring” while Omarosa calls the biting “a bit edgy for me.” Piers comments he can’t read the small print in the Empresario ad, and Baldwin responds in a cloying mock-British accent, “Put on your specs, mate!” to Piers so many times that I want to bitch-slap him upside the head. Baldwin laughs at his own witty brilliance, but no one else seems as impressed.
Trump announces the result.
Alt-F12! I mean… Hydra wins! (I type that phrase so often that I programmed my Alt-F12 key to do it for me.)
Carol wins $20,000 for her charity, the Tony Alt Memorial Foundation, created in 2006 to raise monies for a scholarship fund at Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills and to provide financial resources to select children’s charities.
Trump has to fire someone from Empresario. He sends Hydra back to the suite and begins probing for the reasons Empresario lost. Trump asks Tito if a woman should have been the leader and he agrees completely. He says Omarosa pushed the job off onto him. She disagrees and Tito tells her not to lie on TV. (Because we know she would never do that.)
George Ross says this was as much a marketing task as anything else and as Omarosa professes expertise in that area, he wonders why Omarosa didn’t take on the PM role for herself. Omarosa responds that the PM shouldn’t get bogged down in the details of other roles. Trump asks Omarosa what her record is as PM, and she’s forced to reply that it’s 0-2. Back in the suite, Piers thinks this will be the time Omarosa is fired.
Omarosa tells how she spent time at the top of the task to explain Redbook’s audience to Tito, and George Ross asks if she was neglecting the other sponsor. I’m starting to thing George doesn’t like Omarosa. Omarosa shifts the discussion to say there was no concept, and he places the blame for that on Tito and Baldwin. Trump feels that is a serious charge. Me too – I think Baldwin explained their country concept to Ivanka well enough.
Trump next goes around the table to ask who should be fired. Trace supports Omarosa and names Tito. He adds that Baldwin gets so focused on the task that he’s a poor communicator. Tito comments that Baldwin is overbearing.
Trump asks Omarosa what she contributed, and she mentions the topless shots with Trace. Trump wonders why they didn’t use those shots, and Tito says that Baldwin shot it down. Trump prompts her for a firing recommendation, and she names Tito.
Tito and Omarosa agree that both wanted to include the Trace picture, but Baldwin was “adamant” against it. Baldwin tries to play down the value of that picture, but Trump tells him that Hydra had “edge, and beauty,” and with this picture, Empresario would have at least had some edge.
Trump asks Tito who he would send back to the suite, safe from being fired. He quickly adds that he’s not going to send anyone out, though, because there’s no point. Funny, he did last week, and that was a team of four as well. At any rate, Tito names Omarosa, because she worked the hardest.
As if he’s thinking out loud, Trump tells Omarosa and Trace that they are safe. He then turns to Tito and says that because he warned them the PM’s neck was on the line, it’s, “Tito, you’re fired.” Then surprisingly, from his personal account he gives Tito $50,000 for his charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital!
After the players file out, Trump tells the others, “That Tito is a special person.” He must be special, as (a) Tito has already won a nice $20,000 back in Episode 3, so he’s not empty-handed; and, (b) Carol gets less than half of this windfall for her charity – and that’s for winning the task! I don’t get it.
In the cab, Tito is happy that he was able to get some money for St. Jude’s. He wishes he had worked a little harder, but he had fun and met some great people.
Next week: another recycled challenge, from Episode 9 of Season 1, namely, selling artwork. This time they toil in a shared gallery. The situation between Omarosa and Piers gets uglier (if that’s possible).
My Comments: Tito hadn’t been PM since Episode 3 and ought to have stepped up on his own. However, when he lost control of a project he didn’t want to run in the first place, that sealed his fate. Although Baldwin took over and essentially directed a losing effort, I think Tito was the right one to be fired.
I was rather displeased with the NBC ads leading up to this episode. They put a titillating, smarmy tone on innocent activity. All the pictures were mighty tame. I mean, is a man without a shirt considered racy? Grow up! Tito and Lennox are topless at work. And hey, with Dial body wash, we’re talking a product we use when we’re naked! I swear – this is all Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s fault!
Join me here next week for more of the same… not that any two weeks have been the same!
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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.
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