It’s getting hard to believe that Donald Trump and “the Apprentice” have been on for nine seasons. It seems like only yesterday I was watching that hot mess, Omarosa, cry as she got fired and watching Bill Rancic use his skills to land a job with the Donald. Anyone remember George and Carolyn being Trump’s eyes and ears? Ah, season one memories.
So, here we are, nine season later. No longer are MBA’s or law degrees or entrepreneurial skills a requirement for the show. All staff members to Trump have been replaced with his own children and no longer are people competing for a job with the man himself. Instead, everyone is competing to raise money for charity and the contestants are all celebrities (I use the term celebrities very loosely.) One would think that the change from business-savvy real people to z-list celebrities would make the show lose its charm but actually, I feel the opposite has occurred. A show that was once entertaining for being smart, is suddenly equally as entertaining for being… well… a train-wreck.
The format hasn’t changed all that much. The contestants are still challenged to do tasks that show their business skills, such as generating money, fund-raising, creating ad campaigns and marketing. That part of the show has not been dumbed down for the sake of these celebrities. The celebrities are still brought to the board room after their challenge and one of them is still fired. That intelligent aspect is still there.
The big change is, of course, the cast. Including Donald, the cast is different than it was back in the days of season 1. The show’s cast includes names like Sharon Osbourne, Cyndi Lauper and Daryl Strawberry. During season one Donald Trump was a surprisingly blunt, smart and fair chairman, but now there is much more of an ass-kissing aspect. In the past seasons of “Celebrity Apprentice,” people tuned in for the wackier of the celebrities, such as Joan Rivers and Andrew “Dice” Clay, and this season does not disappoint with wackiness.
While watching “Celebrity Apprentice,” I often ask myself, who is that? The Z-List cast is part of its charm. I had never seen this celebrity chef before in my life, but fair enough, he did his task. Thanks to my obsession I recognized all the wrestlers (although no one I watched with did), no models and only one athlete. But sure, there are enough names you know to call it a “celebrity” version of the show. The best cast-member? Rod Blagojevich. There’s no hesitation or doubt. The former governor of Illinois is eager to be on the show so he can constantly proclaim his innocence to everyone watching, everyone on his team and everyone that he meets while performing the tasks. I could even see a buddy show spinning off between him and team member, Sinbad. (That’s right, Sinbad.)
But, let’s get to the actual show and move on from this cast. Admittedly, I could probably just do an entire entry about Blago and his wackiness (hair included) but I will refrain. The task for our season premiere made the boys team (Rock Solid… yup, Bret Michaels picked it) and the girls team (Tenacity) each run a diner. Whichever diner generated the most money, including tips, won the challenge. The boys made their price points high, hoping to only get the big donors in (Al Roker came in for a turkey sandwich, and it went unacknowledged, but I saw former Yankee great David Cone having a burger.) The girls tried to make their prices more realistic (even though I find $25 for a burger still too high) in an attempt to attract a larger customer base. The winners ended up being the guy’s team, and the girls faced the Donald in the board room.
The board room was a little drawn out. There’s no question, the inability of the women to find a spine and speak up about who they don’t like, was annoying. There were a few great moments though. I used to love the boardroom for the intelligent debates when it was our entrepreneurial cast but now I love it for the quirky moments it produces. I truly believe Cyndi Lauper has never seen an episode of this show (she even thinks at one point that she has to fire some one) and it is quite possible, that she thinks that Don Trump Jr. is made of magic (she stares at him incredulously when he tells her he knows how much money each person generated at the event.) Donald Trump compliments the women’s team by saying that “most of them are beautiful.” Is this really a compliment to the whole team? I think a better compliment would have been that all of them are beautiful. And of course, what would a Donald Trump show be without a chance to call Rosie O’Donnell disgusting. The girls finally gang up against Carol Leifer, leaving Trump no choice but to fire her. She is possibly the most intelligent cast member on the show and in an ironic way, proves that by calling all her teammates dumb bitches on the cab ride home.
Is the show still watchable? Yes. Is it still enjoyable for the same reasons we watched it during season one? No. Not at all. It’s a different kind of enjoyment. I used to enjoy this show the way I enjoy “Top Chef” or “Project Runway.” It used to highlight ordinary people with great talent or intelligence. Now, I enjoy this show the way I enjoy watching Wendy Williams interview some one while eating a Slim Jim that she has just recently set on fire. It’s hilarious, original and at times, a bit silly. Trump used to give business advice at the beginning of every show and I would actually say to myself yeah, that makes sense. But Rod Blagojevich proclaiming he’s innocent of all charges? That does not make sense. However, it is entertaining as hell.