Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Mutiny on the RV!

From Movieline.com’s Louis Virtel.

This season, “Celebrity Apprentice” is short for “The Sorcerer’s Celebrity Apprentice” because it’s a scary spectacle worthy of a Fantasia vignette. There’s the magical mouse herself, LaToya Jackson, decked in a wizard’s bandleader jacket. There’s the wise fox Mark McGrath alongside the shifty-eyed puma Dionne Warwick. Oh, and look, there’s Gary Busey — who is his own animated species. It’s a menagerie of mischief this year, and last night’s episode was yet another foray into the animal kingdom. Rowr. Let’s review.

The Challenge: Now that Lisa Rinna and David Cassidy are gone, the ladies’ team (“A.S.A.P.”) and the dudes’ team (“Backbone”) are excited for a great task. They don’t get one: Trump assigns them to create RV exhibitions for Camping World. Boo. They’re designing motorhome displays that you’d see on The Price is Right, and the problem is, we can’t pass these showcases off for better ones with jetskis and a 48-year-old model in a one-piece swimsuit. The teams’ hopes fall like Plinko chips.

Backbone elects Gary Busey to lead their team for reasons we can’t understand.

“You know you’re putting yourself at risk,” Trump says to Gary.
He replies, “I put myself at risk every time I wake up.”

That’s nothing but true. Most people are at risk every time Gary Busey wakes up. Over at A.S.A.P., the ladies name meek Niki Taylor as the project manager. She’s been forgettable so far, though she’s one of the team’s brainier members — except brains mean nothing in the face of Star Jones’s bossiness and Dionne Warwick’s puma sass! Duh! Sit down, Niki!

Backbone: The guys choose to advertise an RV that looks like a tour bus, which pleases tanktopped rock icon Mark McGrath greatly. Confession: I want Mark McGrath to win it all. Every season of Celebrity Apprentice features an intelligent competitor who doesn’t get enough credit, and McGrath is this year’s Marilu Henner/Curtis Stone. He’s got instincts like “Sugar Ray” Leonard, even if he has mysterious cheekbones like “Sugar Ray” Liotta. There’s sanity behind those vulpine eyes. Let’s encourage that.

Jose Canseco hates the “tour bus” idea, but I can’t remember the last time I cared what Jose Canseco thought. John Rich and Richard Hatch exchange despaired glances once they realize that Gary Busey is really their leader, and you can’t blame them: Busey spends the next 90 minutes forgetting chores, stumbling around like a claymation yeti, and inventing acronyms. “LUCKY,” he says, stands for “Living Under Correct Knowledge Yearly.” “FREEDOM,” he says, stands for “Facing Real Exciting Energy Developing Our Miracles.” He seems to mean it. Ivanka Trump condescendingly calls him “a real original” before disappearing behind a scrim and filing a restraining order.

Since Gary is busy decoding the abbreviations of life, his teammates take on major responsibilities. John Rich writes a song on guitar about Outdoor World that he’ll sing to the RV’s visitors. Mark McGrath and Richard Hatch order plants to place around the RV, which will create the illusion of “a campground”. Meat Loaf gives a tour around the RV to the challenge’s judges, and he makes a big mistake when forgets to show off a secret plasma TV hidden in a side compartment. “MISTAKE,” Gary Busey might say, stands for “Meat (Loaf) Is Screwed (When) Trump Asks (Who) Kerfluffled Everything.”

A.S.A.P.: Meanwhile, the ladies’ team is a hotbed of psychological warfare. They pick a blander RV with a familial feel, and it’s appropriate since they fight like a family of tigers who don’t mind devouring each other whole. Marlee Matlin’s sign language about teammate Dionne Warwick is so bitter that it looks like hateful vogueing. “Dionne doesn’t do the work physically that we do,” she signs. Nene Leakes concurs: “Miss Dionne doesn’t do much. But when I’m 70, I won’t do much either.” Dionne, meanwhile, walks on by their complaints and forms some of her own.

“No one knows what our vision is,” she says, badmouthing Niki’s leadership. Near the end of the challenge, Dionne confronts Niki about the team’s direction, and the former model replies with the diplomatic response, “Your tone is getting a little out of control.” Unfortunately for Niki, no woman in pop history has greater “tone” than Dionne Warwick. Just ask Burt Bacharach, who, if microwaved, would resemble Gary Busey.

Plenty of the ladies don’t do much this challenge. Hope Dworaczyk uses Google on her iPhone to confirm that we’re living in “the 21st century” (for real), while Star Jones wears riding pants and treats each team member as a steed. “I want to be known as a person who solves problems instead of creates problems,” she tells us. But then, who’s supposed to solve the problem of Star Jones? A big old Mobius Strip, this team’s “problems.”

Once A.S.A.P.’s RV is ready for perusal, LaToya Jackson leads the judges on a tour. She shows off the 26-inch TV, the pull-out bed, and that signature LaToya Jackson flair. Yes, she looks like Tila Tequila’s great-grandmother, but she can really sell a camper! Niki Taylor uses her Ivankan face to woo the judges, but will it be enough to best Backbone, who used awesome signage and scenery in their presentation?

Boardroom: It’s the quickest and dirtiest boardroom of the past two seasons. Trump declares that Team Backbone destroyed Team A.S.A.P. with their entertaining jingles and forestry, and Gary Busey is — mysteriously the recipient of a giant check for his charity. Niki Taylor, who claimed that her team couldn’t have performed better, takes the blame for her team’s loss without a word of objection. She’s fired in record time. Star Jones thanks her for keeping her boardroom behavior “classy” just before forgetting Niki’s name for good. We’ll have to wait until next week to understand what “CLASSY” stands for. That is, if Gary can think of another “Y” word besides “Yearly.” I’m drawing a blank myself.

What did you think of this week’s episode, TVLiners? Are you on Team McGrath too? Do you love or hate Dionne Warwick’s confrontational methods? Leave it in the comments, follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel, and read me regularly at TVLine’s sister site Movieline.com.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Debbie M says:

    Dionne is a nightmare to work with. I couldn’t believe she called sweet Nikki Taylor a hussy! Star should NEVER wear riding pants unless her intent is to make her behind look as large as the Supermoon last weekend. Does Jose have Tourette’s or is it a leftover from the juice that he blinks hard all the time? And why didn’t Mark have the stones to call Jose out for being a lazy piece of crap since he filmed Jose doing nothing but loafing and playing baseball for the whole challenge? And poor Nikki. Very beautiful, sweet woman, but doesn’t have the cutthroat traits that are needed in a show like that. She threw herself under the bus rather than one of the divas that she should have. I don’t think anyone on the men’s team would have had the grace and class to do that.

  2. Lindsey says:

    I am totally on board with Team McGrath!!! If Mark can’t stick around because he isn’t volatile enough then I will have to root for MeatLoaf as my second choice. Go Backbone!

  3. Bob Olson says:

    Who would have put money on Gary Busey leading a team to VICTORY — “Vigilence Itself Contributes To Outstanding Results Yearly.”

  4. Clarissa says:


    – LUCKY= Living Under Correct Knowledge Yearly.

    – Star’s scary pants…


  5. watchaholic says:

    C – ant
    L – live thru
    A – another
    S – sad
    S – show
    Y – yet

    If it was for star and dioones’ antics the ladies team would be real dismal!

  6. Elissa Masson says:

    This recap is a far less painful and far more amusing way of viewing this season of, with the exception of Marlee and Nikki and maybe a couple of others have to be some of the least attractive both physically and personality wise folks that I have ever seen!
    Thank you for your wit!

  7. ASH says:

    Mark McGrath forever cemented my high opinion of him when he used to smoke contestants on Rock and Roll Jeopardy! That dude IS pretty smart, and yes…I am pulling for him to win the whole thing.

    • Alison says:

      I agree with you, but he’s definitely a panicker, like John Rich pointed out last night. Mark could go really far if he just learns to relax a bit.

  8. George says:

    Dionne has always been arrogant, now she’s arrogant, old & sour.

    • Louis Virtel says:

      Is “arrogant” code for “the greatest of all time”?

    • jill says:

      I will not listen to another Dionne Warwick song and will delete any I have of hers. This woman has an inflated view of herself and who the heck does she think she is. Legend…I dont think so, she obviously must have had handlers because if she had been left to her own personality to get any where she would be nowhere.

  9. merikat says:

    I always loved Dionne Warwick’s voice. How can I loathe her so much now? And I’m darned near as old as she is but am not nearly as crabby and negative.

    The only woman I’d like to see win is Marlee Matlin. I like Meat Loaf, John Rich, and Mark McGrath (though not so much his music). I don’t really dislike any of the men except Richard Hatch and Jose Canseco. Gary Busey scares me, though.

  10. Lindsey says:

    The only guy I would be strongly opposed to winning would be Jose Canseco… How irritating is he?? And the only female I’d like to see win is LaToya Jackson… How cute is she? I’m waiting for LaToya to turn crazy, but so far all I can picture is her as the lion that couldn’t roar! Haha!

  11. Natasha says:

    Aha..ahahha…giggle,snort. Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you Louis.
    I have been meandering around the interwebz for the last hour, becoming more and more depressed at the drivel passing for writing. It was so nice to see such a well written and freaking hilarious piece. (Honestly, I laughed pepsi out of my nose :)
    Love, love, love you and I hope to see more of your work.

  12. DM says:

    As a women I am offended by the behavior of the women on this show. They are picking people they like and supporting the good and forgiving the bad….if they don’t like someone, that person is done.
    If I was the head of a company or an empire…I would get rid of all of them. They should have checked themselves at the door.

  13. Alicia says:

    Can someone PLEASE remember Gary’s acronym of TEAM?!?!?!