Tuesday Pop Review- Celebrity Apprentice Redux!

Hello all, and welcome back for your Tuesday pop review!  A few weeks back, I did a little review on this season of The Celebrity Apprentice, one of the few network shows I follow and the only reality show I watch.  Several episodes have passed by since then, and we are now down to the final four contestants:  Marlee Matlin, John Rich, Meat Loaf and Lil’ Jon.  In my opinion, the only surprise in that group is Meat Loaf, who I was sure would implode at some point or just be exposed as the weakest link on the men’s team.

Here’s a brief recap of how things went down since we last blogged about the show, which at that point had 9 players left.  First, the elephant in the room that was Gary Busey’s utter incompetence got eliminated when his team bitterly forced him to be project manager and more or less loafed during his task.   One of the quicker boardrooms in show history!

Then, LaToya Jackson got fired for the first of two times (yes, you read that correctly).  After Star Jones bricked as the project manager in a task relating to the Trump hotel line, Trump pulled some typical “change the rules as we go along nonsense.”  Instead of holding the project manager accountable for a job poorly done, he went with the “body of work” and “who’s a bigger threat down the road” test, the same test that should have saved Mark McGrath a few weeks ago and countless others over the years on the Apprentice.

During the same boardroom which included LaToya’s first demise, seeds were planted for a horrific catfight as Star Jones also brought Nene Leakes back to the boardroom in an openly manipulative move, stating (correctly) that Nene would argue with her for LaToya’s firing.  Nene fell for the move hook, line and sinker.

By the next episode, Nene was spitting vinegar over this move, getting in a shouting confrontation with Jones at the start of the next task in front of executives relating to the new task.  If ratings played no role, Nene would have been fired on the spot.  Unfortunately, ratings are everything 🙂   As the women listlessly supported project manager Leakes following her tirade, the men continued to click.  Moreover, LaToya Jackson marched into Trump’s office and pleaded for a second chance.  Trump agreed to think about it.

After another pummeling by the men’s team, and another confrontation in the boardroom between Leakes and Jones, Leakes fell under Jones’ spell yet again, recommending poor Hope Dworaczyk (sp) for termination.  Hope conducted herself with class, made solid points in the boardroom, including how Leakes’ rude confrontational manner is highly unprofessional, yet Trump again sold out for ratings, forgiving Leakes’ absurd blowup in front of a client and poor job of managing the task and fired Hope.  On top of that, Trump reintroduced LaToya as a new member of the men’s team.

At the start of this past week’s 3-hour, 2-project episode, Trump determined that Leakes and Jones could no longer work together, switching Nene to the men’s team in a trade for Meat Loaf, an homage to grade school lunchtime transactions everywhere.  Leakes rewarded Trump’s decision to keep her over Hope by failing to report for duty to the men’s team, quitting the show because Trump allegedly “gave Star Jones her way.”  Really not sure what the thought process was there.  Leakes should be a national pop disgrace for her stupidity and inability to conduct herself like an adult, much less a professional, yet somehow I get the feeling that this will be her big break regardless.   In the boardroom, Trump went out of his way to fire her in spectacular fashion, admitting his mistake in the prior boardroom and calling Leakes a “quitter” and telling her that Star Jones “kicked her ass,” at which point NBC cut to some stock footage of Star sporting a poop-eating grin and nodding.

When it came down to business, the “women’s” team finally got back in the winner’s column, with team captain Meat Loaf beating LaToya Jackson in a fundraising event based on selling tickets to a comedy show.  The task included underwhelming fundraising performances by both teams.  In the end, a grotesquely sobbing Meat Loaf brought home $180,000+ for his charity.  In another lowlight, Star Jones, though doing it for the winning team, bragged about “delivering” Tracy Morgan for her team.  However, instead of actually getting Tracy Morgan to walk a few blocks down to the show, instead she visited him and taped an awkward and unfunny 2 minute video that Meat Loaf played for a confused audience.  Star pranced about “delivering” Tracy Morgan as if she had gotten an interview with Eddie Murphy in 1986 rather than the 3rd-4th most important character in a long-since-peaked sitcom.

In the second and final task of the evening, the two-man team of John Rich and Lil’ Jon beat the women’s team, led by Marlee Matlin, in a battle to create a 90-second infomercial for OnStar, which just launched an over-the-counter product available for installation in most vehicles (btw I just did a better job of delivering OnStar’s key message in that one sentence than the women’s team did).  Lil’ Jon stole the show, picking up his ailing teammate John Rich and accomplishing the task almost singlehandedly.  The women’s team, as usual, was less than graceful in defeat.  Though Marlee Matlin was over-deferential to her teammates and weak in leading the team, the battle came down to a ferocious confrontation between Star Jones and Meat Loaf, a battle Star Jones used to own in her pre-surgery days.  In a spirited debate that took place both inside and outside the boardroom, Star impressed millions of Americans by 1) taking offense at Meat Loaf innocuously calling her “sweetie”; and 2) refusing to engage Meat Loaf in a discussion by pompously telling him that he does not have the credentials to have the right to speak with her.  As a fellow lawyer, I just want to offer my tongue-in-cheek thanks to Star for spending the past 10 weeks reinforcing the negative stereotypes unfairly placed upon lawyers.  In the boardroom, poetic justice was finally done, as Trump summed up that Star is someone with whom few people get along, and who came off like a wimp in getting offended at the term “sweetie.”  Star was axed, leaving the final four of Lil’ Jon, John Rich, Meat Loaf and Marlee Matlin.

As usual, the final four will be reduced to two after the remaining competitors go through an interview process with winners from former seasons, in this case (learned through this week’s sneak preview) Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers and Bret Michaels.  Here are my odds for this year’s winner (and yes, I do regret not giving odds last time I blogged about the show!):

John Rich:  1:2 –  Yes, he’s been that dominant.  Not only that, but his main competition a few weeks ago, Marlee Matlin, has shown some weaknesses of late.  Rich is a mortal lock for the final two.  In all seriousness, Rich would have to walk a doberman into Trump’s office to do his business to NOT advance to the final two.  Trust me.  I have him at 1:2 because not only will he definitely make it to the final two, I think he has a 75% chance of winning over any remaining competitor.  Rich not only has had a plan the entire show, he has also handled his business with dignity and class throughout, showing a true passion for his charity and those of his teammates.  I believe he still has some bigtime donors in his back pocket for what will likely be a fundraising filled finale.

Marlee Matlin  3:1 –  Marlee was a strong player throughout, showed incredible grace on a team full of bickering, had Trump’s ear (no pun intended) anytime she had an opinion, and was a killer fundraiser.  I just was never impressed with her management skills, as she was too nice and, candidly, her inability to speak without the effort of signing left her open to getting overshadowed in a group setting.  I see her as the most likely to get to the final two with John Rich but I think she could get smoked.

Lil’ Jon  5:1- Lil’ Jon has seriously opened a lot of eyes with his performance this season.  Though he is a little bit of a one-trick pony as a performer, he is extremely strong behind the scenes and is a great teammate.  I just have a bad feeling that he will not hit it off with the interviewing.  Though he’s opened a lot of eyes, I think his ironic downfall could be the constant sunglasses indoors look, which I think could turn off the more business like interviewers like Morgan, Rivers and ultimately, Trump.  There are only strong players left, and the most fickle things could be the difference between advancing and being fired.

Meat Loaf 15:1-  As much fondness as Trump has acquired for Meat Loaf, his $180,000+ victory was his One Shining Moment and Last Hoorah wrapped into one.  He’s a great guy, full of heart, but cannot stand toe to toe with the other three.  He also had some ugly moments including his near physical confrontation with Gary Busey.  If Meat Loaf walks home with the $250,000, I’ll be shocked!

Enjoy the last two weeks, folks!!

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