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''The Apprentice'': The return of the fired

On ”The Apprentice,” finalists Lee and Sean are assigned to run charity events and choose teams based on affinity, not ability

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The Apprentice (Season 5)
The Apprentice: Virginia Sherwood

”The Apprentice”: The return of the fired

Boy oh boy, do I wish I had spent my Memorial Day doing something other than fantasizing about how great my life was gonna be after tonight’s season finale of The Apprentice. The revelation that I can’t count and there is a whole finale yet to come next week was a harsh one, ducklings. But I press on, and thankfully, the Apprentice gods delivered a relatively engaging episode and a couple good twists to keep me interested. If you missed it, here’s a quick update: Andrea the Fembot is capable of crying. Of course, she has to be coughing up blood first.

Lee and Sean found out they’re the final two with a late-night call from Robin, asking them to return to the boardroom. They naturally thought they were going down there to get yelled at, but instead they were congratulated and sent back up to the suite, where all the Apprentici were waiting to interview for positions on the final two teams. Before he walked out of the boardroom, though, Lee had to get in one last shot: ”I’m up for the challenge, Mr. Trump!” Trump responded with ”Get out of here. Frickin’ politician, Lee!” Remember the words of the Trumplings: Daddy doesn’t like showboaters.

The big reunion was then under way, with much hugging and, on my part, desperate Googling to try and remember people’s names. (Somehow I’d managed to completely block out the existence of Charmaine. Yeesh.) As expected, Sean went right for Tammy, and Lee fell into the arms of his long-lost brother, Lenny; both significant others were instrumental in picking the final teams, for good or for bad. After much kissing up on all sides — ”That’s a nice tie, Lee!” chirped Allie — your two new mini-corporations are:

1. Synergy, which features Sean, his girlfriend Tammy, her inexplicable girlfriend Andrea, and everyone’s boyfriend (at least in his mind), Tarek.

2. Goldfanny (die, team name! why won’t you die?), now starring Lee and his paisan, Lenny, as well as the nicely recovered Roxanne and some dude named Pepe.

If you’re wondering who Pepe is, don’t worry. You’re not alone: The presence of week 2’s firee in the boardroom gave Carolyn a case of the giggles not seen since the great fabric-choosing debacle of 2005. ”Boy, I hope he knows what he’s doing, picking that guy,” said Trump, in a line obviously edited in after the fact — but the truth is that Lee had little say in the matter, because Lenny was 100 percent the one who pushed for Pepe’s inclusion. If you’re like me, you’re a little worried about the amount of control that Lenny has over Lee at this point, and wondering perhaps if he didn’t put in a call to some of his old KGB buddies, who are currently holding Lee’s parents hostage in a bunker somewhere deep in Uzbekistan.

(You might not be like me. I used to really like Alias.)

The teams had a choice of two tasks:

1. Manage all aspects of a Barenaked Ladies concert at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, to benefit the World Wildlife Fund — sponsored by Pontiac, who donated two cars to be raffled off.

2. Manage all aspects of a celebrity hockey game at the ever-present Chelsea Piers, to benefit America’s Bravest, a firefighter charity run by Denis Leary — also sponsored by Pontiac, who donated two cars to be auctioned off.

After some relatively offensive cracks about all the men wanting to work with bare naked ladies (for the love, people), Sean settled on the concert and Lee on the ”ice-skating competition,” and the two teams got down to business.

Synergy started by making a spreadsheet, getting a walk-through of the massive Taj Mahal space, and meeting with the WWF representative. Meanwhile, Lee etc. were meeting with Liz, the head of the firefighter operation, and thoroughly embarrassing themselves. In talking about ”big” ideas for fund-raising, Lee threw out auctioning off a date with a fireman, and Liz made sure to point out that her charity tended more toward ”exclusive and classy events.” And yet young Lee was unfazed. ”They didn’t hire me to go into a meeting and be very very prepared for the meeting,” he said, in his cocksure 22-year-old way. Sigh. (On a side note, the amount of words Lenny actually said in that meeting, as opposed to during his very vocal campaign for Pepe? Zero.) Liz put in a call later to scream at the Goldlosers, a call that, tragically, appeared to happen in front of Carolyn. Things do not look good. Roxanne is psyched to meet Michael J. Fox, though.

And it’s not like everything is all shiny and bunnies at Synergy: Aside from the aforementioned Andrea crying (thankfully, the producers spared us from seeing her coughing up the blood), Sean appears to have fallen into some sort of K-hole regarding Tammy, and is now spending all his time gazing at her with a toothy grin and saying completely nonsensical things like, ”I’d be in there like swimwear.” Tammy, for her part, seems way less interested in Sean than he is in her, and she also reminded me tonight that her bulb is burning somewhere around 20 watts. Big props to her for asking Andrea to hit the grocery store on her way back from the doctor!

So them’s your conflicts, ducklings: Can Lee overcome his youthful incompetence and complete lack of personal responsibility to pull off the fund-raiser? Will his team’s idiotic lapse of judgment with the Pontiac execs — they brought up the idea of matching donations, but then forgot to follow through on it — come back to bite them in the ass? (Duh.) Over at Synergy, will Sean and his alleged girlfriend be able to put their possibly imaginary relationship on hold long enough to get anything done? And is our old Mensa-belonging friend Tarek smart enough to run this entire task by himself if the answer to the previous question turns out to be ”no” and Andrea turns out to be not coughing up blood but rather motor oil and is immediately returned to the warehouse to be sold for scrap?

Most important: How much money are people really willing to spend on a shiny new Pontiac? Stay tuned, ducklings! Only one more week to go before we’re free!