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''The Apprentice'': Tana loses control

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The Apprentice (Season 3)
Tana: Craig Blankenhorn/ NBC

”The Apprentice”: Tana loses control

We open on the moon. Ah, how fast it moves, just like New York City. It is the city that never sleeps, no, never, and our two heroines — She Who Will Win and She Who Is a Shark Dressed Up Like a Goldfish — are down to their last task as the Apprentici. Whether it is because of selective editing or my own prejudice, it’s pretty clear who’s gonna win.

(Note: This recap is long. Buckle up.)

But before I begin tonight’s Kendra lovefest, I think we need to discuss seriously the way Tana’s team of rageaholics sucks. I mean, I’m not sure who could win with that group, and it almost seems unfair. It seems like she was sabotaged a bit. It seems like the cards were against her from the get-go. It almost seems . . . ooh, there’s more beer in the fridge! Shiny!

So Tana and the Angry Twinkies are over at Chelsea Piers setting up an event for NYC2012, the incredibly misguided waste of time that my municipal leaders have set about pursuing this year for reasons that seem unclear to just about anyone who doesn’t stand to profit from having the Olympics come to New York. Chris and Brian are hanging banners crooked, a method that is ”close enough for government work” and implements a theory I was fond of in set-design class in college: ”We’re not gonna make ’em perfect, and that way it doesn’t look like we screwed up.” Ah, yes. I know that defense well. But really, my ducklings: How hard is it to hang signs? Kendra’s team had no problems.

The morning of the Olympic event, no one would get up on time (and shirtless Brian elicited not one but two shrieks of ”ick!” from me, and then a quick scramble to find a picture of Jabba the Hutt for comparison purposes). Tana cited their morning sluggishness as ”the biggest sign of disrespect anybody can show” — no wonder I got fired from my last gig! And after they did get to the event, the bios of the athletes in the printed programs were full of blind items like ”Won five medals, injured, will not swim but great on camera,” and Governor George Pataki was sitting around twiddling his thumbs (and they wonder why nothing gets done in Albany). (I am going to leave out my rant here about how the governor of New York State is busy appearing on a reality show instead of fixing our schools or protecting us from all the terror). Tana dropped an f-bomb for the first time, like, ever, and then gave the best sound bite of the season: ”Everybody who wanted me, they weren’t saying, ‘You’ve got beautiful blue eyes’ or ‘Where can I get a tube of lipstick?’ They were saying, ‘Something really is sucking,’ ‘This is f’d up.’ ” Well, honey, even show ponies have to learn to make it in the cold, hard world. I have no pity. It’s New York. The moon is in a hurry.

Meanwhile, over at scuzzy old Webster Hall, where the techno never stops, some dude is pounding nails into a boxing ring with a barbell, but in better news, the Playstation 2 dungeon is really looking ”nice,” which was Kendra’s instruction to Michael that morning. Amy, the PS2 rep who looks weirdly like Mary Louise Parker, seems happy. The banners are hung pretty straight. I have a weird craving to watch The Contender. For the most part, everything goes great. Fabolous is a dull but famous emcee. Trump enjoys his time beating up the videogame avatar of some woman who I hope to God is his daughter, ’cause it sure as hell wasn’t Melania. No actual fights break out, which is a good night for a New York club. Kendra has done a superb job.

But in Chelsea, chaos has reigned. There is no American flag. They had to throw out those programs. Nadia Comaneci is like 65 years old. Carolyn looks mortified. Maybe 40 people are in attendance. And Tana — delusional, precious Tana — chirps, ”It couldn’t have gone any better!” Really? No better? At all? Honey, to quote you, maybe it’s just not your destiny. And then, at the end of the afternoon, she let her rageaholics get back in the SUV with barely a thank you because that’s what the ”executive” does, just stands there in the loading dock with her pretzel bitches that she paid for.

I don’t know how they do it in Iowa, Toto, but methinks you could take some notes from Kendra, who, at the end of her event was pretty much sobbing in the street, clutching Danny, Michael, and the Professor like the last day of summer camp. It was really nice to see Kendra exhibit some emotion, wasn’t it? I know she’s been a soulless robot throughout, and that’s part of why I liked her, but I also like the way everyone was blowing kisses and weeping and seemed to genuinely be proud of themselves for staging a ”world championship” of videogames between 16 people. There was so much love. Too bad, Tana. No love for you.

Best moment of the night: When Kendra returns to the suite, still teary-eyed, and Tana says, ”Oh, I feel like crying, too!” and Kendra tells her she’s crying because it was all so wonderful, and Tana makes some Midwestern squawking noise and says, ”I thought you were crying cause the task was so hard!” Heh. (Yes, this moment was better than Kendra talking to herself in the bathroom. That joke is old.)

And then, as the longest Apprentice episode in the history of the world drew to a close (well, except for last season’s finale, which, thank God, this year is only an hour, and maybe that means I’ll be able to go to the party, hug Kendra, drink in peace, and make it home to write this sucker before dawn, unlike last fall, which was honestly one of the worst nights of my life), the two women rolled their suitcases past Robin (”Hey ladies,” said Robin) and into their final boardroom. Was it just me, or were they nitpicking Kendra to give the illusion of suspense? Because the minute the employees got out of the elevator, I knew Tana was doomed. But I guess it’s important to make it seem like Danny’s one loopy meeting with the Best Buy execs (the people who run the company that took forever to locate Chris’ credit card, by the way) was a deal breaker or something.

Something of note from the boardroom, though: When Tana started to explain why she dropped out of college, my breath caught in my throat. She got married. She had kids. There’s nothing wrong with that. And thank God, Trump agreed. It was a weird, scary feminism moment, but everyone pulled through okay, and so I don’t have to set anything on fire. Yet.

Look, what it breaks down to is this: You’re the Donald. You’re the biggest real estate mogul on the planet, or you think you are. Do you hire:

A. The real estate woman with the college degree who’s succeeded throughout the 16-week job interview and ran the best event tonight by a long shot, or

B. The Mary Kaye saleswoman from Iowa who speaks jive to rappers?

I don’t see how there’s a struggle here. But, you know. As George and Carolyn said, they both sure are nice.

What do you think? Who’s going to be hired next week? Who deserves to be hired? Should they have just gotten it over with tonight?

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