Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Grilling Gary Busey

Well, it happened. For the first time last night, I prayed for sanity on Celebrity Apprentice. Prayed! Every week I gawk at these contestants with their microwaved faces and poppycock lives, and I always approve of their senselessness. I danced when Dionne Warwick clucked “Hussy!” at Star Jones! I reveled in Richard Hatch’s murderous stare! I still cherish when La Toya Jackson murmurs like a nervous Muppet Baby (a hybrid of Skeeter and Beaker, arguably). But this week, I couldn’t handle Gary Busey’s team leadership and utter nonsense, and I’m guessing you couldn’t either. Clasp your hands over your face like Meat Loaf, because we have a lot of unbearable nuttiness to review.

THE CHALLENGE: Just before Trump announces the new task, John Rich confesses something to us: Gary Busey is “a saboteur.” You heard it here first: Rich believes Busey is ruining the dudes’ team on purpose. “When I told him he was a saboteur,” Rich said, wagging his index finger like a UFO theorist, “he looked at me like I had found out his secret.” John, no. First of all, no one knows Gary Busey’s secrets — not you, not J. Edgar Hoover, not anyone. Not even Gary. Second, if Gary were an effective saboteur, he’d have arranged your elimination weeks ago! Save a horse, ride some reality, John. Gary’s just your average kook who loves acronyms and growling like a heartland serial killer. Respect.

Now, the challenge: Both teams will give cooking demonstrations to promote Omaha Steaks and create a new meat-lovers “variety pack” for the company to sell. Appetizing! Hope Dworacyzk, whose name is Polish for “Hope Dwhocares,” is elected project manager for Team A.S.A.P. though she doesn’t eat red meat. Team Backbone, meanwhile, forces Gary Busey into a leadership role, hoping he’ll succumb to the difficulties of meat-loving. It was just two weeks ago he had trouble Meat Loafing, after all.

TEAM A.S.A.P.: As usual, the ladies’ team is a riot of weasel noises led by sullen prairie dog Star Jones, who snatches the reins from Hope in record time and starts directing the team. This woman should try out for the lead role in a race-blind, gender-neutral Douglas MacArthur biopic. “You do this, Marlee!” she snaps. “You run over there, La Toya! You prop open that door, Hope Doorstop!” NeNe’s not amused by Star’s totalitarian state, but Marlee Matlin sneaks in a solid idea: a poker theme for the steak presentation and variety pack. “Yeah!” La Toya says. “Poker’s the biggest thing right now!” As usual, LaToya’s sense of reality is 7+ years out of date.

NeNe begins preparing one dish, a lobster platter, while LaToya attempts to cook for the first time. What could go wrong? Oops, La Toya’s burgers catch fire in the pan. Flames in the air. “Oh no,” NeNe groans. “She’s trying to do the Michael Jackson on me.” NeNe’s not bad-ass enough to yell, “Douse it with Pepsi, the choice of a new generation!” but I can hardly blame her. La Toya is ridiculous, difficult to approach, and she resembles a Spanish drag queen’s impersonation of Kyra Sedgwick. You can’t really depend on her for… dependability. Unless Dependability is a brand of bandleader jackets. By God, it better be.

When it comes time to present the team’s dishes, Hope “leas”d the proceedings by introducing LaToya, Nene, and Marlee, who do a fine job of offering up the dishes. The Omaha Steaks people look pleased, even when the team yells, “Omaha!” in unison like monsters.

TEAM BACKBONE: Here comes the uncomfortable insanity I mentioned earlier. Gary Busey’s first act as project manager is to pitch us a theory about life’s greatest riddle, Gary Busey. “I don’t show [the team] I have focus,” he says. “That’s part of my art. That’s part of my mystery.” Also part of Gary’s mystery: He talks like Criss Angel. Also: He might live off a diet of Percocet margaritas.

In a meeting with the Omaha Steaks execs, Gary sidetracks discussion of the product and begins telling a story about “two kids, a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl,” who buy their dad Omaha Steaks for Father’s Day before going out and flying kites together. That’s honestly the whole story. It’s about flying a kite with your dad in the name of steaks. Gary’s sure that relaying this tale during the presentation will secure him the win, but the others simply throw up their hands. They’re over Gary. In fact, they’re livid! John Rich won’t shut up about Gary’s penchant for “sabotage,” Meat Loaf is annoyed that he’s been assigned the role of chef when he can’t cook, and Lil Jon hasn’t been assigned a single task. It’s not like Gary’s picking up the slack either. “What about ‘Omaha Multiflavored Steaks Pack’?” he suggests as a title for the variety package. Lil Jon giggles. Aw, skee, skee, Gary! You’re crazy and it hurts!

John Rich’s paranoid anger flares into Howard Hughes territory next, as the country star is enraged that Gary called him “boy.”

“You said, ‘Listen to me, boy!'” Rich squawks. “No one calls me boy! You can’t call me boy! You called me ‘boy,’ off camera! You’re so unaware that you called me ‘boy’!”

Rich proceeds to say “boy” about 40 more times like he’s a Rihanna song, and Gary’s reaction is grim blankness. Perfect. Without much further ado, the group’s final presentation commences: Meat Loaf starts out strong with solid steak salesmanship. He’s making “Meat” jokes left and right. The crowd’s having a great time understanding them, and I imagine some of the execs are whispering “The Meat’s got heat!” to one another like champs. Then comes Gary Busey. Gary. Gargar. Garpocalypse. Garykins. Big Wednesday.

Gary starts on an unhinged monologue that namedrops the following items: anniversaries, taste buds, falling in love, kites, a father, heartland quality, and 1917. It is so senseless and long-winded that I, um, convulse with anxiety. Haven’t ached like this since Mark McGrath tried to make pirates wear sunblock.

BOARDROOM: Though the deliberations take more than a half hour, the boardroom discussion ends obviously: Hope and the women win for their presentation. Their presentation was better, their performers were more energetic, and their menu didn’t contain misspellings of “absolutely” and “Key Lime Pie.” (Good try, Gary.) This is one of Hope’s greatest achievements on the show, apart from surviving all my killer Dwoorstop puns. Soon as the ladies leave in a another fit of weasel noises, the pawns on Team Backbone begin disavowing Gary.

“It was a catastrophic collapse of time management,” John Rich says.

“He made me cut paper! I felt like I was in kindergarten!” weeps Lil Jon.

Because Meat Loaf’s pure anger is causing him to stutter, hiccup, and frown, Trump takes the hint and fires Busey. Thank God. I couldn’t handle another week of his cryptograms and seismic eyebrows. As long as we still have La Toya, Celebrity Apprentice is the home for craycray I can tolerate. It’s a frying pan fire of delight!