The goodwill between the contestants on The Celebrity Apprentice wears out at a much quicker rate than on other reality shows. It’s an interesting and excruciating process to watch the camaraderie break into bitter sniping. Unlike the plebes on other reality shows, the irritation rarely seems staged or of the “I didn’t come here to make friends” variety. Making friends is exactly why celebrities come on this show. Well, making friends, reminding the public that they exist, and throwing some moderately big bucks to a worthy cause. Part of the fascination of the show is watching D-listers go from the sheen of mutual respect to snapping at each others throats.
Last week’s Lisa v. Victoria smack-down left seven membersand a couple of clear alliances along team Forte. There’s Dayana and Patricia, who are in lockstep from the first sandwich challenge, and Lisa and Aubrey, who seam to have a sort of partnership based on loudness and love of dangly jewelry. Debbie, Theresa, and Tia have all been background players at this point, though as things get more serious, they’ll certainly step up. It’s a sort of uneasy peace that developed between Team Lisa and Team Dayana, and this challenge has the potential to crush it quickly. Unanimous hasn't had to deal with that kind of rift yet. They came into this episode riding high, except for Dee’s shattered finger and Lou’s injured ego.
The challenge this week is less exciting than a romp around Medieval Times, but it’s also one that makes both teams more uncomfortable, oddly. Ivanka has a clothing line out, and both teams had to show off her wares by dressing two living window displays, thus the fetching title of this installment, “How Much Is That Celebrity In The Window?” Thank God Adam Carolla is back, not the least for his faux-confusion about window dressing as “somewhere between Ranch and Thousand Island.”
It’s only the third episode, but one interesting twist of this season of The Celebrity Apprentice is how oddly well the project managers’ personalities seem to correspond across the teams. The first challenge had the steely but quiet Patricia against the equally quiet and resourceful Paul Teutul, Sr., and last week was a brash Lisa Lampanelli against the loud and flashy Penn Jillette. This week, it was the sweet by fluttery Dayana against George Takei, who is more of a laissez fair manager than his team would like. While Dayan had to wrest leadership from the eager Theresa, basically no one on the men’s team wanted to volunteer for project manager of this one. The election process was like an Abbott and Costello sketch, of sorts. First a motion towards Clay taking over, which prompted an incredulous, semi-offended “Because I’m gay?” and then George stepping in with a shrug, reasoning that he should take it over “Because I’m gay?” Who among you can deny the glory of George Takei?
I assumed that Aubrey taking charge during the last challenge wasn’t a long-standing pattern, but it turns out that this former Dannity Kane member is a lot feistier than I gave her credit for. Team Forte this week was pretty much piloted by Aubrey, who came up with the idea of presenting Ivanka’s looks in different seasons and coordinated the whole thing as Dayana fretted prettily. Dayana seems like a nice person—did you see that hug she offered Lisa after Lisa ripped at her in the boardroom last episode? It seemed genuine, and Dayana comes off as someone who’s generally decent, and who can step up when she needs to, as in the sandwich challenge. But her leadership was weak this challenge. When the team had to divide in order to allow one faction in the showroom and one in the set-building shop, Dayana hemmed and hawed about remaking their vision when the window was smaller than the team had envisioned. Part of that came from Lisa and Aubrey’s emphatic encouragements to trust them after last challenge went so awry, but she also seemed to need more time to react to the situation than her compatriots had. When the photos didn’t arrive from the printer to complete the window displays, it was Aubrey who managed the rejiggering of their whole concept. Dayana has many skills, but this week, I think she got lucky.
Team Unanimous begins in a state of confusion and only gets more scattered. George is the kind of manager who delegates and trusts his team to do what they say they will, as Penn and Paul both were in some respects, but no one exactly knows what they’re doing this challenge, so George’s management approach looks more like meandering and dropping wise, resonantly-voiced advice on people. It’s hard to say what his first mistake was, but certainly one of the most glaring ones was putting Arsenio in charge of styling the models in the window. The man was browsing through Ivanka’s showroom looking like an extra from Newsies. Who could honestly be surprised that he has no idea that office clothes and beachwear have subtle distinctions? Dee Snider, who is apparently far more metal than I ever gave him credit for, had to have immediate surgery to fix his broken finger of the past episode, but returned as soon as the anesthetic wore off. Clay Aiken took to just looking pained at everything, while Adam Carolla displayed a shocking amount of earnestness in his passion for carpentry. Penn’s entire contribution seemed to be his mastery of identical twins throughout the United States. “There’s no twins that magicians don’t know about,” he assured us. Great?
Forte’s display had its hiccups, but Unanimous’ one was both ill-executed and the presentation was, God bless Takei, horrifically awkward. It wasn’t surprising that the women took their first win for this, though I would have liked to see Dayana have to break through the forced loveliest of the women on them team. Trump picked at everyone to name a weak member until, continuously met with pledges of adulation for Dayana and Lisa, he gave up in disgust and moved on to Unanimous.
In the boardroom of doom and echoing, George brought back Lou and Arsenio to determine who would be fired. It seemed clear from the beginning that George would be the one to go. Arsenio’s fashion taste was offensive, but it’s a little surprising that we haven’t seen a project manager go home yet for losing. Lou didn’t take kindly to George’s choice, and I can understand: He seemed to have tried to help as much as he could, only to be swatted away by Paul and Adam. George doesn’t try too hard to make a case that either Arsenio or Lou should be sent home in his stead, and so the Trump axe comes down on him. Farewell, George. The boardroom won’t be the same without your enunciation.
- Michael Andretti is so far the most normal, retiring dude to ever appear on this show. I’ll be interested to see what happens in his turn as project manager.
- Did Audrey change into something with epaulets to go construct a set? Her resourcefulness is admirable, but she continues to look like an anime mistake.
- I was really rooting for Takei. His dedication of his charity of choice to his late parents put it over the top.
- On Aubrey’s excitement over the window reveal: “No. Those are white. You can’t pee in those pants.”