Celeb Apprentice: The Little LaToya That Could

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As usual, I found last night’s Celebrity Apprentice terrifying. Mark McGrath howled at Gary Busey since he is this Timberwolf, NeNe Leakes’s anger flared up since she is NeNe Leakes, and worst of all, I feared that Trump would fire 54-year-old preteen LaToya Jackson. How I fretted! How I shivered! Celebrity Apprentice without LaToya Jackson is like American Idol without Steven Tyler’s gnarled smirk: a funless, glamor-free depression.

THE CHALLENGE: Nothing titillates the masses like a “corporate presentation” contest! Weeee! The teams must create “interactive exhibits” (read: big embarrassing dioramas) for Australian Gold, a sunscreen and tanning lotion company that uses a surfing koala named Sydney as its mascot. The execs feel strongly about the koala. “He’s the coolest guy wherever he goes,” deadpans one lady CEO, slamming her fist on the table in the name of all boogieboarding marsupials. Honestly? She might’ve slept with Sydney a couple times. I see rumpled bits of eucalyptus in her dye-job. Sick! The teams talk among themselves and select exciting project managers: Backbone picks Mark McGrath and A.S.A.P. selects our LaToya. Yes! It’s the classic battle of “real bandleader vs. woman in a bandleader uniform.” Just like in the Bible.

TEAM A.S.A.P.: Now, of course LaToya is coerced into being project manager because her teammates want her to crash and burn. NeNe, Marlee Matlin, Star Jones, and even Hope Dwoorstop think LaToya is basically a Christmas tree in a military jacket, but we know better: We see that LaToya is useful when it comes to staring at clipboards, squeaking, and looking raceless. Fully dependable in all three avenues. 100% guarantee.

The team cooks up a generic idea for their presentation concerning the beach and sand, but that’s as far as they get.

“I’m kind of thinking…” LaToya begins. She never finishes the thought, but then you realize it’s the truest full sentence in history. Left to figure out the challenge for themselves, the rest of the team picks up chores: NeNe decides to don a koala suit for the presentation while Hope Dwoorstop promises to “stay out of the way.” That’s a quality I like in doorstops. I always trip over intruding ones!

Then LaToya’s reign of senselessness enters the math world in a dangerous way. She tells the girls to pick up “125 bags of sand,” which Marlee figures is 6,000 pounds of grainy silica. What do they need all that sand for? Does LaToya want to recreate the Sphinx, pyramids, and, hell, all of Giza as part of her presentation? You can’t tell. And you can’t ask either, because LaToya will squeak to the northeast and wander off if confronted. Star laments LaToya’s inability to understand a budget, and we soon watch helplessly as Ms. Jackson leads the final presentation. There’s sand, volleyball nets, gold-bodied extras, and even fake snow on the ground (since LaToya claims “you need sunscreen in the snow too”), and the Australian Gold execs seem weirdly satisfied. If a meek churchmouse cooed at you about sunscreen, you’d be awkwardly comforted too, I imagine.

TEAM BACKBONE: The dudes, meanwhile, are working around a very specific toxic-waste issue named Gary Busey. Mark McGrath, who is like a literary wolf hero from The Call of the Wild, says that Busey is too maddening to remain in the game. The others concur, but they’ll have to be sneaky if they’re going to set him up for elimination. Or they’ll have to finish melting him.

After the Australian Gold execs emphasize the importance of using their logo — and their erotically pouched mascot — in the final presentation, McGrath comes up with another plan: A pirate theme, of course! And the awesome pun of “treasure-ing moments” to sell the product. Poetic. “Mark McGrath” is an anagram of “Maya Angelou But a Wolf,” if you didn’t know. The gents agree on the Dead Man’s Chest theme and start recreating the joy of a thriving Long John Silver’s. They acquire shipwreck props, buccaneer costumes, plank paraphernalia, Penzancian pizazz, and even some “pirate lasses” who wouldn’t look out of place on an old episode of Comedy Central’s The Man Show or a current episode of the little-watched Cinemax series Pirate Brothel. The team’s got to work extra hard because Gary told the execs that their product “gives him a sexual feeling,” and that’s almost as revolting as when he called his johnson “Big Wednesday” last week. Gary’s libido tends to ruin challenges, I find.

John Rich dreams up an awful pirate ditty to sing for the execs. It’s very “Yo, ho, ho, and put on yerrr sunscreen, matey.” I don’t see an Ivor Novello award in its future. Thankfully, the team’s final walk-in diorama looks impressive: The wooden planks and ship detritus set a scene, and it’s more a sensible one than Team A.S.A.P.’s multi-biome collage. The final presentation goes over fine, but Gary corners the executives and improvises about 15 pages of pirate jokes for their viewing horror. Tee-hee! He even pitches himself as a spokesman for their company. Tacky! And he also pushes away Meat Loaf when he tries to engage the execs. Fabulously insane! Will Team Backbone’s strong pirate theme and Buseyian whimsy win out over Team A.S.A.P.’s super-golden set?

BOARDROOM: The Donald has plenty of issues with both presentations. He can’t believe Team A.S.A.P. didn’t strip down Hope Dwoorstop  and force her to shake her golden little tail for the suits. “Being Playmate of the Year, we thought this would’ve been a great opportunity for Hope to be front and center, drawing in kind of a crowd,” said one exec. That’s right: Hope is being penalized for not getting naked enough. The exec may as well have said, “All Hope knows is taking off her clothes! Why wasn’t she gyrating on visitors like a horny St. Bernard? Greasing her groin with a buttered spatula and moaning like a slave princess? Giving deep, sensual kisses to Surfin’ Sydney and a dozen of his platypus buddies? Come on.” Trump insists that the guys’ pirate theme was also a heaping dung fortress of stupidity. The swashbucklers had nothing to do with sunscreen, and the dudes failed to reference the all-important Surfin’ Sydney. Yikes.

After NeNe calls LaToya a prehistoric braindead elf (or something) and Mark McGrath says he takes full responsibility for his team’s decisions, Trump renders a verdict: The women win! LaToya ends up earning $40,000 for AIDS Project Los Angeles, and Mark McGrath and Team Backbone face elimination. Meat Loaf, Lil Jon, and John Rich try to get Trump to fire Gary Busey, who they say is impossible to work with, but McGrath dug his own grave. Trump fires him after a lengthy aBuse-athon. Like any rational viewer, I wanted McGrath to win this damn contest. I’m sad. Look, there’s the moon. Arooooooo.

Just before the curtain closes on another fine week of workplace professionalism, NeNe starts a fight with LaToya backstage and says she resembles “Casper the friendly ghost.” Oh, NeNe. If anything, LaToya is Michael Jackson’s ghost. (You’d think LaToya would be making more money now that she can claim this is so.) But don’t mind NeNe; LaToya is safe and sound on Celebrity Apprentice, and we get to watch her sharpen her shoulder pads and addition skills for another week.

What did you guys think? Hilariously crazy episode? Terribly idiotic pirate theme? Leave your angst and excitement in the comments, follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel, and read me regularly at Movieline.com!



Comments (17)

  • Poor LaToya! She’s so sweet and oblivious.

    Pirate theme was bizarre. Gary Busey is Bizarre.

    This is such a fun train wreck…the casting was so strange this year. It’s clear who is going to win..the only sane person there…is….

    Comment by Tee – April 11, 2011 08:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • say what you want about LaToya (and yes, I realize that there is a lot of material…) but on these tasks the executives seem to looooove her and she is always singled out for compliments.

      And I had a lightbulb moment when she something last night about Star Jones. Star consistently wants to be in charge of these challenges (whether she is PM or not) but when there is blamed to be assessed, she always sets someone else up for the fall.

      LaToya might be brighter than we all think.

      Comment by Candacetx – April 11, 2011 01:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I think what you mean is Star is brighter than you think…

        Comment by Lee – April 12, 2011 08:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Am I the only one who sees the irony in Michael Jackson’s sister advertising a tanning product?

    Doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.

    Comment by Rock Golf – April 11, 2011 08:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Everyone saw that, even Trump, who said she “was perfect for it” and
      set the viewing audience into gales of laughter.

      Comment by Yo – April 11, 2011 09:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Trump keeping Busey was clearly for ratings.
    Because Busey telling that female executive the product made him “feel sexual” was so out of line and unprofessional.

    That along with kidnapping the executives on site, Good Grief !
    Those female executives wouldn’t vote for the men to win, NO WAY.
    That should of been more than enough to FIRE Busey.

    On the women’s team…
    NeNe’s behavior was totally unprofessionl as well. She is such a bully.

    Comment by Laurel – April 11, 2011 08:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Every year I say to myself “I’m not watching because it’s all just for ratings!!” BUT THEN I WATCH THE FOLLOWING YEAR. But yes, Busey needed to go. Whatever. (And Annie Duke should have won! I’m just saying.)

      Comment by Michael – April 11, 2011 09:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yes! I swore not to watch again when Annie Duke was so gloriously cheated by that walking corpse Joan Rivers, but then they cast Cyndi Lauper and I HAD to watch it. Then I swore I wouldn’t watch this one, because I HATED his final choice on regular Apprentice, but then they cast Meatloaf & Cassidy & Hatch & I thought: hmmmm interesting. Now I can’t turn away, no matter how horrified I am. If only Mark Burnett would replace Trump with any other random money guy – if he wanted strange, he could go with that Virgin guy – Richard somebody. Or even dump Trump senior, just continue with the Trumpettes Junior and Ivanka. If only he would just go away…

        Comment by sashay – April 11, 2011 01:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This show is currently the most hilarious viewing experience on television; more so because the entire thing is played absolutely dead pan. The reviewer could have had MUCH more fun with it!

    Comment by Yo – April 11, 2011 09:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Finally, there was a reason that Hope was on the show, and brain-dead Latoya couldn’t see it over her pointy plastic nose. Seriously, you have the Playmate of the Year offering to put on a bikini in NYC in winter and you choose to HIRE a much less attractive model to pose instead?? Epic fail!

    Comment by Debbie M – April 11, 2011 09:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Latoya got the job done, her team won and her charit will benefit. that is the important thing, lets see what Hope can do since she doesn NOTHING and get away with it. Nene continues to show was a loud mouthed ghetto woman she is.

    Comment by louisa – April 11, 2011 10:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This show is freaky good! Sad that Mark was the one to go. I do have conflicting feelings though… Do I laugh at Gary who is crazy/brain damaged or do I feel bad for Gary who is crazy/brain damaged.

    Comment by Denise – April 11, 2011 11:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I hear ya… but is it as they say.. that he really does know what he is doing?

      Comment by Ka – April 11, 2011 11:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It was pretty stupid of Sugar Ray to say he would take full responsibility. Busey would have gone otherwise or at least they would have been able to make a stronger argument for it.

    Comment by 4F – April 11, 2011 01:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The review started off really well but the last third turned into a sad bitterness.
    Check that.

    Comment by Sam – April 11, 2011 01:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Great recap — the title says it all. At least Marlee was diplomatic when she said LaToya has a “different” style of leadership. I am still so touched by LaToya’s donation of MJ memorabilia. Nene needs to shut it and remember it was LaToya’s generosity while capitalizing on her last name in the previous episode that allowed the women to survive elimination…..otherwise the men would have surely won.

    Comment by PaisleyQ – April 17, 2011 07:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • LaToya is a Jackson after all and that’s what counts, at the end of the day most of the rest are just nobodies wanting to rub elbows with real celebrities!!! and yes Nene Ghetto, LaToya has been in showbiz forever and she is a true Jackson so be respectful cause you are just there to show a very bad side of Atlanta women!!!

    Comment by Carol – April 18, 2011 07:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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