There are a few signs that immediately alert a channel-surfing viewer that he or she has landed on an episode of The Apprentice. Is there a group of men dressed in suits ranging from dressy casual to bolo tie? Are there women using speakerphone in a nondescript white van? Is either group filming a commercial of some sort about a cleaning product or frozen food?
If so, congratulations, you’re watching The Apprentice, or maybe you’re watching The Celebrity Apprentice, or perhaps you’re in the future and watching The Toddler Apprentice or 2 Fiscal 2 Apprentice or El Aprendiz: Estas Despedido! No matter which flavor of the Donald Trump Reality Hour you’re on, there’s something they all will have in common: awful, horrendous, absurdly pointless team names.
At the outset of every season, the teams are instructed to come up with a name that reflects their personalities and professional attitudes. Like any good trivia night or camp color wars, plenty of thought should be devoted to the brainstorming process. Yet every Apprentice team inexplicably plucks from the same terrible assortment of nonsensical, meaningless power words. Over the course of 15 seasons, some teams went completely crackers.
Let’s start with season 1: Versacorp and Protégé.
Nothing is funny about the show’s inaugural season. Everyone loved Donald Trump. Everyone loved Bill Rancic. Omarosa became a thing people actually talked about out loud with their vocal cords. So there was no reason to assume that Versacorp or Protégé were particularly bizarre choices. In fact, they’re the originals. The O.G. Apprentice Names. Versacorp doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s passable because the teams were actually called “corporations” back then, and any effort at portmanteau is good by me. And Protégé is fine, because it’s a spot-on synonym for “apprentice,” and who doesn’t love a good strategic synonym? They’re efficacious and multifarious.
Season 2: Mosaic and Apex
The show’s first big twist shook up the teams so that one male was on a team of females, and vice versa, so Mosaic was kind of appropriate to describe eight dudes with one lady (although “Eight Dudes, One Lady” would not be a good team name, FYI). I suppose you could pinpoint the naming of Apex as the moment when things went downhill. Here’s a name to describe a team that considers themselves at the very peak of existence, yet they haven’t even climbed the mountain. But since there was only one season preceding it, Team Apex proceeded in typical American fashion, laying claim to superiority despite no back-up! So manifest destiny.
Season 3: Magna and Net Worth
Magna, you are getting a complete get-out-of-jail card here even though you sound like a Level 45 Charizard move, and that’s because Net Worth ranks as one of the worst names in all 15 seasons. What even are you, Net Worth? You make no comment on your team’s actual value other than to say that you are simply a quality a Sim might struggle with, like Hygiene or Bladder. Even more offensive is the fact that it was the Street Smarts team that decided on the moniker—the Book Smarts team at least had the, well, book smarts to use “magna cum laude” as academic guidance. Sorry, Net Worth, the only thing worse than one crappy word is two.
Season 4: Capital Edge and Excel
Prior to season 4, a memo must have circulated informing contestants that they should just start doing whatever the f— they wanted during the naming process, so one team chose a pre-approved credit card while the other literally just picked whichever Windows program was open.
SEASON 4 MARTHA STEWART EDITION BONUS: Matchstick and Primarius
In season 4, a concurrent spin-off starring Martha Stewart ran alongside the original Trump 4.0 model. You’d think maybe we’d get some really lovely domestic names like Crockpot or Tablescape, but instead the entrepreneurial contestants chose Matchstick (which is, like, kind of domestic, in a Betsy Ross kind of way) and Primarius. PRIMARIUS. That’s some straight up Hunger Games dystopia nonsense if I’ve ever heard it.
Season 5: Gold Rush and Synergy
Again, I have to believe that the contestants were commanded to pick an absurd name purely for the LOLs. Synergy is the kind of nonsense buzzword that people love to pack into their résumés to describe what was typically a very non-synergetic work experience. It’s like how sorority girls who say “I don’t do drama” actually live for drama. They love drama. Nobody on team Synergy is harmonious and that is a stone-cold fact of life, Mrs. Garrett. And as for Gold Rush, I will not even deign to waste my time on that ’90s computer game garbage of a name.
Season 6: Kinetic and Arrow
Pretty good names!
Season 7 (The Celebrity Apprentice): Hydra and Empresario
Is that the girl from Pretty Little Liars? Nope, it’s the Spanish masculine word for “entrepreneur,” which is pretty bizarre considering only one person on the all-women’s team was of Latin descent and the rest were basically Marilu Henner. (Imagine if a non-Jewish team decided to call themselves “Team Chutzpah.”) The men decided to honor the ancient Greek monster Hydra as some misguided badge of fearless honor, although secretly we all know they were just seven years too early to the meme.
Season 8 (The Celebrity Apprentice 2): Athena and KOTU
Dubbing an all-female team Athena after the Greek goddess of wisdom is a classy and fabulous move, so kudos to the ladies here. Applause emoji for all of you. The men, meanwhile, went the completely opposite route and named their team KOTU, which outrageously stood for “Kings of the Universe.” For real. Actually, for real, grown men called themselves Kings of the Universe. But your rage will fade when you realize that the team included Andrew Dice Clay, Tom Green, Dennis Rodman, Brian McKnight, and Jesse James. See, now you feel sad.
Season 9 (The Celebrity Apprentice 3): Rocksolid and Tenacity
It was at this point in the celebrity seasons that casting appeared to be chosen by printing out IMDb’s lowest-rated STARmeter pages and stapling them to a dart board. (Welcome, Sinbad!) The nail-on-the-head exactness of Tenacity (which was also used in the UK’s 10th season) already leaves nothing to the imagination, which means even less creativity went into the actively unimaginative Rocksolid, which I can only assume was the men’s mistaken bastardization of Rocksteady from Ninja Turtles.
Season 10: Fortitude and Octane
Doesn’t it feel like someone’s already used Fortitude? No? Like, are you sure? Unless I was incepted by a full season that never happened, there’s something very déjà vu-y about the sheer laziness of Fortitude, which ranks up there with Tenacity and Apex as “Things You Call Yourself Without Any Proof Whatsoever.” Octane has some excitement to it, but they made a mistake in not specifying how much octane they had. Were they specifically low-octane? Because you really never hear about any kind of octane unless it’s high-octane, so 10 points from Octane for a missed opportunity.
Season 11 (The Celebrity Apprentice 4): Backbone and A.S.A.P.
In keeping with the trend of the male teams naming themselves after monsters/levels of sturdiness, this season’s celebs went after specific body parts to assert their masculinity/tenacity/fortitude/gold rush. The women, meanwhile, went for a refreshingly inclusive approach to what ended up being an inevitably awful acronym: Actors, Singers, Authors, and Professionals. It’s worth mentioning that there was a very strong need for the nondescript “Professionals” category, lest there be no way to describe the many accomplishments of supermodel Niki Taylor, Playmate Hope Dworaczyk, and Real Housewife Nene Leakes.
Season 12 (The Celebrity Apprentice 5): Unanimous and Forte
The very idea that a team would label itself as perfectly agreeable goes against the entire idea of the series. And Forte is just a plain stupid name.
Season 13 (The Celebrity Apprentice 6): Power and Plan B
At this point, the ladies completely gave up on trying to think of a synonym for “power” and instead just chose the actual word Power. Because the guys could not take the same approach and simply name themselves Team Penis, they opted for Plan B, which commands as much respect as a silver medal or a second best exotic marigold hotel.
Season 14 (The Celebrity Apprentice 7): Vortex and Infinity
Like, do you honestly even care anymore?