Celeb Apprentice Recap: Who Needs Winners?

We’ve gone too long without a Celebrity Apprentice challenge devoted to Donald Trump’s quaint collection of hotels, haven’t we? Those modest bed-and-breakfasts. Those darling little inns. Those humiliating eyesores of rococo opulence and cultural death called the Trump Hotels. They’re so ugly, guys. If you’ve ever wanted to live inside the gold foil on a Wonka Bar (which La Toya Jackson did from ’88-’92), Trump’s doom fortresses are for you. And your classy loved ones. And your ferrets.

We’re already down to eight contestants. Did they sell The Donald’s brand of hospitality right? Join us for the review.

THE CHALLENGE: Before assigning the task, Donald Trump has an important announcement. “Everybody’s saying I should run for president,” he barks, speaking on behalf of his lying, hyperventilating staff. “Meat Loaf, should I?” Meat Loaf slaps himself and sputters, “TchYES!” like a nice man with Stockholm Syndrome. No one else responds. This is how apocalypses start, after all. Personally, I’d rather Trump run for “president” of the Make Don Trump Jr. Cry 24/7 Foundation, since I believe making Don Trump Jr. cry is very funny and philanthropic. Picture it: Trump calls his son “weak,” “thin-necked,” and “a little dopey,” and Little Don clutches his slicked-back crest of Bowser hair and weeps — for our amusement! I’m cutting a check right now.

So, the challenge: It’s something like, “Create a four-page ad for Trump Hotels, and — aw, what the hell — make it good.” John Rich and Star Jones step up as project managers and staple their melting game faces into place.

TEAM A.S.A.P.: There’s still some bad blood between NeNe Leakes and La Toya Jackson, so the two decide to talk it out. “You’re phony,” NeNe begins. Now, what. La Toya is many things — a hybrid of Paula Abdul and a grasshopper, for starters — but she’s not phony. She’s incapable of dishonesty, NeNe! LaToya’s wired for blazer-wearing, beep noises, and rolling her eyes sometimes (otherwise known as “ocular moonwalking”). Thankfully, La Toya responds: “I used to think you were a bully, NeNe, but I love you now! And I’m going to give you this hug!” That’s when a hug ensues and the rigid lady blazers crash into each other like poly-blend asteroids. Titillating. Apparently this means NeNe and La Toya have put aside their issues and befriended each another. We just accept it. Fine by me.

Star Jones, who is confused by affection as a general rule, ignores this exchange and begins handing down orders.

“I’ve got a great slogan,” she announces. “Individual Elegance, Collective Luxury.” That says just about nothing, and the team loves it. Star wants the team’s ad to feature photos of “ladies who lunch” and Hope luxuriating in a bubble bath. Cliched and dated, yes, but at least everyone in this bleak group agrees to cooperate. In fact, Star adds, “I’m honored to work with you broads.” Since she’s talking like a Cheri Oteri impersonation of Debbie Reynolds right now, I like her.

The photo shoots proceed on schedule, and after a largely drama-free episode, Team A.S.A.P. presents a completed ad campaign to a pair of frowning executives. Here is some of their “hard sell” dialogue.

“Escape,” says La Toya.

“Lifestyle,” says Hope Dwoorstop.

“Serenity,” signs the heroically straight-faced Marlee Matlin.

“Atmosphere,” snaps Nene.

Pure opulence,” Star coos. This recitation proceeds for, oh, three days before Star concludes: “Individual Elegance, Collective Luxury.” There. Instead of proving they understood the Trump brand, Star and her crew listed a bunch of luxury-related buzzwords and hoped it sounded smart. Bad guess, guys.

TEAM BACKBONE: Project manager John Rich addresses this challenge with the forthright approach of a true businessman. Unfortunately, he’s working with Meat Loaf, who prefers the over-dramatic approach of a true Meat Loaf song. With Lil Jon, the dudes decide to center their campaign around Trump Hotel architecture and, mysteriously, the concept of “making the customer feel like Trump.” Your gasp is justified. The last civilian to feel like Trump was profiled in the DSM-IV. And then killed humanely with an old hammer.

Meat Loaf directs their photo shoot. It features the cleverly luxurious idea of — wait for it — a man dressed in a butler’s uniform.

“You want to be the best employee ever!” Meat Loaf yaps, “inspiring” the butler. The actor playing the butler stands at attention with a napkin folded over his arm. In a day filled with cliches, this is the most hackneyed display yet.

“He looks like an undertaker!” declares John Rich, who eyes the final photos with dismay. Did you hear that? Intelligence just slipped out from under John’s cowboy hat. It sounded embarrassed, as expected.

John, Lil Jon, and Meat Loaf spend the remainder of their day writing up ad copy and making sure it isn’t misspelled. Last week they spelled “absolutely” wrong and pinned the blame on Gary Busey, who is the most blame-able living organism. When the trio presents their final presentation, they make sure to highlight the personalized treatment customers receive at the Trump Hotel. John Rich relays an anecdote about how he received a crib and teddy bear for his 1-year-old child when he stayed at Trump’s palace. He forgets to mention that he is a celebrity, so of course he received special treatment. I appreciate the attempt at humility, John, but you can’t hide the cultural impact of “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” under yer Stetson.

THE BOARDROOM: Hold your loved ones tight, because the Trump executives hated both the men’s and women’s ad campaigns. They refuse to choose a winner! Unspeakable! I’m grinning from ear to ear!

“They didn’t include the Trump phone number or email!” some exec named James says of Backbone’s work. “Nothing is a call to action here!”

“This looks like a flier for a strip club!” some exec named Jim says of A.S.A.P.’s brochure. “These pictures are a cacophony! Mr. Trump, this doesn’t live up to your brand of luxury hotels.”

It’s almost unnerving to hear real opinions on this show. They’re right. The campaigns stink. But they always stink, see. That’s the bottom line with Celebrity Apprentice. The contestants aim low, achieve less, and we pretend they’re dreamweaving visionaries. I guess when Trump’s own name is on the line, the Celebrity Apprentice Honesty Department returns from sabbatical.

Lo and behold, Team A.S.A.P.’s presentation is declared worse than the men’s. The reasons why are unclear, but Star’s unamused glare is a blessed prize for viewers. It’s so despaired! Like Kermit the Frog’s eyelids after Piggy makes a nasty innuendo. Just grim and full of puppetry. Though Star should be the one to lose (if Mark McGrath’s firing as a project manager is a precedent), NeNe points a finger at La Toya, who she describes as “not a good player.” So much for that friendship! Since Gary Busey departed last week, Trump figures we should dump his loony female counterpart too. Yep. La Toya is fired. We’ll never hear from that ancient churchmouse again. Literally. Because she speaks in hushed rodent cries.

What did you think of the episode? Did you like either presentation? Should the men have lost? And did you almost self-destruct when Trump made that off-color comment about Star’s weight-loss? Leave it in the comments, follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel, and read me regularly at Movieline.com.

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17 Comments
  1. Cy says:

    I had to replay the part where Trump discusses Star’s weight. Cringe worthy to say the least! And the look she gave him, while forcing herself to AGREE WITH HIM, was truly frightening. Even Don Jr. couldn’t believe his dad said it!

  2. Yo says:

    Virtel, hon, you need to rework this. The line between funny and mean is fine and you crossed it.

  3. 4F says:

    I was disappointed that NeNe allowed herself to be manipulated by Star into getting rid of La Toya. Yes, La Toya was a weak player, but they failed the task at hand because of Star, and Star alone. Oh well. Did you catch the peek at next week’s episode? The Wrath of NeNe. I hope she pulls Star’s weave out.

    When Meat Loaf was yelling at the butler model (You’re the best! You’re the best! People see you and know you’re the best at what you do!”), I got the distinct feeling that the ghost of Gary Busey had inhabited his body. He’s cray cray!

  4. Ella says:

    I cannot believe Trump claimed that he had to be fair and give the women a chance to be the best they could be. HELLO! Then why the hell didn’t he fire Gary Busey 3 weeks ago?! He was a huge obstacle in the mens’ way. Total double standard and completely ridiculous (especially since I am still hung up on Mark Mcgrath’s firing) – the entire task and concept were Star’s, she should have been fired. Period.

    Star and Nini will be in the final. Their talking heads (which looked very made up and different from everyone else’s) gave it away.

    • Kim R says:

      I agree! When did it become the deal that you are not being judged for the actual task but for the future tasks??? And Gary lasted as long as he did? LaToya did not deserve to be let go last night. Nene needs to shut up & stop wondering why she is giving people a negative impression. Is she serious??? She is totally negative. Star should have been fired. She was the director of that whole campaign. Donald sucks. All about the ratings. He knows Star & Nene will make good TV for his show. I don’t know why I’m watching this season. :(

      • Ed says:

        Yes indeed, that toad of a human being does indeed suck. From the “say yer gonna vote for me or you’re fired ’cause you’re stupid” comment to the “Star was fat and I think of people having a hard time crawling up her a** ’cause it was so big” (Really! The buffoon DID say that!) the toad showed exactly who and what he is.

        Quite frankly the Donald is one of the finest arguments for socialism that anyone could ever dream up.

  5. Debbie M says:

    What’s scary about Trump’s desire to be president is that he thinks Gary Busey is a genius. Busey for Secretary of State! And LaToya for Secretary of Foreign Affairs, extraterrestrial division!

  6. rsf says:

    “Some exec named James” is the same James Oseland who is a Judge on Top Chef Masters.

    • Lee says:

      Thank you for saying that. The man is editor in chief of one of the premier magazines aimed directly at fine living…my guess is that Mr. Virtel is not aspiring to a gig better than TV blogger.

  7. JenInChicago says:

    OK – a few things really bothered me about this episode.

    #1: Trump addressing is potential “Presidential” run. He needs to be careful here.

    #2: The magazine editor. Too cool to wear a suit? He liked the camera a bit too much for my taste.

    #3: Trump’s comment about Star’s rear end prior to her losing weight. Uncalled for, truly. I’m not a stick in the mud, by any means, but that had no place being said – anywhere – board room/TV, etc. I can’t believe the editors actually left that in the show.

    For the record – the whole campaign was orchestrated by Star. She should have been fired, no question.

  8. fela says:

    I think they treated Latoya unfairly. She was not the reason they lost she should have fought it. They lost on two fronts Star’s idea and Nene bubble bath scene with the towel blooper & unopened champagne bottle. Trump is no dummy its all about the ratings and he likes a good cat fight between NeNe & Star. I did not care for the executives who judged the ad they were really mean. I am still trying to figure out what type of ad they wanted. I do not think the women’s ad was that bad. The men made a critical error without putting a website & phone number.Someone should have been fired on that team. I remember awhile back on the regular apprentice a team member put the website incorrectly on ad & the team member was fired.

  9. virginia mc shane says:

    Donald used very poor judgment firing LaToya. Star was the project manager. Donald’s game rules change depending upon his reliance on ratings. I won’t watch the program again.

  10. lace says:

    I am not a fan of LaToya, but Star deserved to be fired or Hope if the goal was just to rid the team of dead weight. What exactly has Hope done this whole season besides stand there and look pretty? Since the firings and the non-firings are about enertainment I’m surprised Hope has lasted so long.

  11. Chris says:

    I think Latoya might have been a weak player, but NeNe was a dang fool for not suggesting she be fired. It doesn’t matter what task you lose, as long as you win your own and make it to the end. It would have been strategic. They should have gotten rid of their biggest competition. Plus, it was Star’s task and it failed. She should have been fired. And NeNe knew she was being manipulated. That’s what’s crazy. And Marley isn’t fair, saying Latoya doesn’t contribute after getting hundreds of thousands of dollars for her charity after giving away a personal shirt that she carried around with her. That’s insane!

  12. Lee says:

    LaToya deserved to go a long time ago, so this was overdue. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that Star earned a trip home tonight and didn’t get it.

  13. Jewels83 says:

    This is quite possibly the worst Celebrity Apprentice. People can’t express themselves intelligently (“she’s phony”) nor defend for themselves (mark mcgrath).
    Star Jones’ attitude is like nails scratching on a chalk board. The playmate is so humble and quiet that she probably speaks less than Marley. However, I did miss the episode where she was the project manager so I may be wrong.
    I wish Latoya spoke up about her feelings towards Star’s idea for this ad campaign. As a matter of fact, did any of the other women share ideas or just complied to whatever crap Star came up with? They are all afraid of speaking up in front of her. I agree with Nene with this matter. And Nene, she can be very inconsistent but she does not play, she will tell you the truth. Love her.

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