Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Cry, the Beloved Meat Loaf

Make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable space with a chilled beverage, because I have terrible news: Celebrity Apprentice was three hours long last night. Yes. Like the Today show or one of Gary Busey’s speeches about “heart” and “art,” it tacked on an extra hour without warning. When’s the last time you watched 180 minutes of anything, really? Titanic? Ben-Hur? La Toya Jackson chasing a Slinky? This episode was not nearly as epic as those things, but it did feature three eliminations and two challenges. Who survived and who didn’t? Join us for the rundown.

THE CHALLENGE: La Toya Jackson, who Trump un-fired at the end of last week, starts this mega episode with an affirmation. “I’m a force to be reckoned with!” she tells us. Hmmm. By “force,” does she mean “nervous cricket”? And by “reckoned with,” does she mean, “petted like a bunny”? Because she’s a nervous cricket to be petted like a bunny. That I know. NeNe and Star are still battling about nothing, with NeNe announcing that Star should, “play with the big girls, honey.” Star says she has “no intention” of talking with NeNe after last week’s outburst, so we’re left to assume that these owl-eyed buzzards won’t ever get along. Which is a shame, because they both love brown leather coats and long-winded nonsense. And long-winded brown leather nonsense coats. See? More nonsense.

Trump assembles the seven remaining troubadours (Marlee, Star, NeNe, LaToya, John Rich, Lil Jon, and Meat Loaf), and assigns an amazing task. Seriously this time.

“You’re going to produce a comedy show!” he says. He misses the opportunity to add, “…as if you haven’t already.”

Team Backbone, which includes (after a quick Trump shakeup) La Toya, NeNe, Lil Jon, and John Rich, elects La Toya to lead. I could wax rhapsodic about La Toya’s leadership skills for milliseconds. The way she stalls! The way she never comes up with ideas! The way she touches a cell phone and pretends to call people! Or maybe animals! (“I’m texting a big dog I once met,” she muttered one week.) The way she stares at a pile of papers with her massive, Crayola-brown, Dora the Explorer eyes! The way dolphins seem to moonwalk in her large, watery pupils! The way she murmurs to no one in particular! Leadership, y’all! This is Douglas MacArthur stuff!

Meanwhile, Team A.S.A.P. chooses Meat Loaf to lead the crew of Marlee and Star. You’ve gotta love when Meat Loaf is placed in charge of anything other than tantrums, because it’s just not going to happen. He says, “I didn’t take [on] Celebrity Apprentice because I needed attention. I did it for one reason only: for [his charity] Painted Turtle.” Aww. Too bad you can’t donate anger management issues to charity. Then he’d have cured juvenile diabetes by week four, am I right?

TEAM BACKBONE: To start things off on a strong note, NeNe drops out of the competition. Yep, just like that. She decides her feud with Star is untenable, yaps something in confessional, and hops a cab back to Andy Cohen’s fame dungeon in the Hamptons. Even Jose Canseco bid us a proper farewell — and his occupation is “Baseball Ruiner”! Annoying, yet predictable behavior from NeNe. Good riddance, girl.

The rest of the team rallies forces. John Rich dials up Jimmy Fallon to contribute a funny song to the show, and the SNL alum agrees to come! Incredible! Almost like he works at NBC and is contractually obligated to take part somehow. The team auditions other comedians to fill time, but this is a fundraising mission, so it doesn’t matter how funny, effective, or alive the other standups are. May as well bring back Dionne Warwick and force her to monologue about Star Jones for 15 minutes. That’d be a lively pile of laughs. And Dionne could finish up by shanking Star in the thigh, which is considered charitable under some circumstances.

In the fundraising department, La Toya pushes some buttons on a cell phone and somehow gets the Hilton family to donate $1,000. Well done, La Toya. Kathy Hilton pays about $5,000 a week in parking tickets, and you garnered a fifth of that. Holler. John Rich and Lil Jon pick up her slack and pull in some medium-sized donations, but will it be enough to defeat the crybaby antics of Team A.S.A.P.?

TEAM A.S.A.P.: Seconds into the task, Meat Loaf is gasping, howling, and shooting tears perpendicularly out of his face. He’s worried that he’ll lose the challenge and forfeit his precious donors’ contributions to La Toya.

“I’m here for Painted Turtle!” he bleats. “I will do absolutely anything for them! I can’t have these donations go to somebody else!” In other words, he’ll do anything for charity (but he won’t do this). And there’s a joke for you.

While Meat Loaf shrieks about his feelings like a middle-school poet, Star has an honest-to-god stroke of genius: She calls up Tracy Morgan to contribute a comedy bit on videotape. He used to imitate Star on SNL, and quite well, I might add. Marlee suggests an equally brilliant idea — a comedy bit about how idiots treat deaf people. She relays a hysterical story about a flight attendant who once handed her a Braille menu, and you know what? That is funny and insane. And Marlee Matlin better win this show. She better outdo these maniacs and sail to victory on the high road. If sailing on a road is possible. You know what? Marlee could make it possible. Her interpreter will man the road periscope.

BOARDROOM: The first boardroom of the evening ends swiftly. Meat Loaf’s team pulls in just over $100,000 for charity while La Toya’s team — who arranged a live Jimmy Fallon performance of a disappointing original song called “Yer Fired” — only reels in a cool $80,000. Meat Loaf erupts in a blizzard of relieved tears, which sends awkward terror through the room. Don Trump Jr. nods in approval because his life is a ceaseless stream of awkward terror, and he enjoys the company (if just for today). Team leader La Toya is unsurprisingly eliminated for the second time this season. Boo, guys. In a jaw-dropping display that only Celebrity Apprentice would dare attempt, the sidewalk under La Toya’s feet lights up as she exits the Trump building. Yes, a “Billie Jean” tribute. Yes. Michael Jackson is rolling over in his grave, which is a real accomplishment considering he’s suspended from a giant mobile in Glendale with doves, clown dolls, and taxidermied giraffes right now.

The second challenge of the night is far more typical. Trump tells the celebutantes to produce a commercial for the OnStar car security system and make sure it includes all the sassy features that make OnStar so cool, amazing, and frisky in the sack (or whatever). John Rich will lead Team Backbone, making him the only person this season to be project manager three times, while Marlee will front Team A.S.A.P. This is a formidable match-up. Or a mash-up! “Save A Horse, Ride Children of a Lesser God!” Actually, pretend I never said that.

TEAM BACKBONE: John Rich and Lil Jon are the only remaining contenders on Backbone, and that’s a shame since John has a throbbing sinus headache today. “Is there a quiet place I can go?” he asks as a crew constructs a commercial set around him. “Can I get out of this booming-ass room?” Lil Jon despairs. He takes his pain from the window to the wall (aw, skee-skee), eventually deciding to star in the OnStar ad himself. Though the editing process on the commercial takes longer than expected, the team finishes the task and produces a salable clip. The execs seem impressed, even if Lil Jon’s performance seems a bit “over the top.” That’s like calling Donald Trump’s hair “a butterscotch thatch of candy grass.” It’s true, but we accepted it back in 2003.

TEAM A.S.A.P.: You’ll be relieved to learn that Meat Loaf exhumed the spirit of Gary Busey and went absolutely-effing-nuts this challenge. His idea for an OnStar commercial includes the following items: Star’s narration; a storyline about a bumbling cop who loves donuts; a car theft victim played by Marlee; a communal meeting at the donut shop; a skateboarder; difficult editing; other stupid things; a few more stupid things; a cameo by stupidity itself. It’s a nonsense list of requirements that add up to zanytown, and Meat Loaf’s booking us a one-way ticket. The shoot is predictably frantic, and worst of all, Star forgets to stamp the OnStar logo prominently in the commercial. You know what that means: She’s a bad person and doesn’t deserve to work for Donald Trump. Or does she? The boardroom follows.

BOARDROOM: Something is suspicious about Donald Trump’s behavior the minute this surreal troupe of plastic surgery aficionados sits down.

“I’m not a gay man,” Trump stutters, “But you seem so much better-looking today, Meat Loaf!”

To be fair, Meat Loaf is wearing a glittery blazer with butterfly appliques. That’s the kind of style that initially drew The Donald to Ivana, and then Ivana to obscurity. Major couture. John Rich interrupts to note that he and Lil Jon work together very well despite their musical differences, and before those two crooners can break out a banjo-fied version of “Ebony and Ivory,” Trump interrupts John’s interruption to declare Team Backbone today’s champs. Marlee Matlin is crestfallen, but come on: That commercial was a mess, and everyone at the donut shop knew it.

Meat Loaf and Star Jones, who remains diplomatic until Meat tries to say that she didn’t place the OnStar logo correctly, engage in a refreshing fight. It’s clear who Donald favors, especially after Star says she resents how Meat Loaf calls her “sweetie.”

“Aw, come on, Star,” Donald says. “That’s not so bad. I’ve been called worse.”

Someone remind me never to recommend Donald Trump for a job at Mother Jones. Calling someone “sweetie” in a business situation is a gross idea, and Star was right to (articulately) express dissent. In fact, she should’ve adopted one of Tracy Morgan’s catchphrases, declared, “I am a lawyer,” and read Trump some verbiage from a sexual harassment pamphlet. Of course, it’s too late for verbal verve now: Trump fires Star on the spot, leaving Marlee and Meat to fend off against John Rich and Lil Jon in the final four. I’m weeping with pride like Meat Loaf at a Painted Turtle power-ballad recital.

What did you think of this week’s gigantic episode? Epically grand or epically bland? Did the right people go home? Do you miss NeNe, Star, or (hint) LA TOYAAAA? Leave it in the comments, follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel, and read me regularly at Movieline.com!