People said 2016 was like living in the golden age of television. People said we had never seen such a plethora of incredible options at our disposal. People called it “Peak TV” and said the quality of offerings had never been better. And they were all wrong. Dead wrong. 2016 was the worst year in the entire history of television because 2016 was the year when Celebrity Apprentice aired not a single solitary episode.
Sure, some may say 2016 was one long, seemingly never ending Celebrity Apprentice episode, what with the election, ceaseless promotion of Trump Steaks, and random uncomfortable shots of Barron Trump, but those who say that were missing out on the true subtleties of the franchise that make it so great that do not involve the President-elect at all — subtleties like Clint Blank using laundry detergent to masturbate. Nuances like Vincent Pastore concocting a “rat” scheme and then bailing on his own rat scheme and becoming a triple agent halfway through said aborted rat scheme. Flourishes such as Rod Blagojevich attempting to use a laptop. Curiosities including, but not limited to, Gary Busey magically transforming into a mechanical dog. Those are the true hallmarks of Celebrity Apprentice. And they were sorely absent in 2016 (although someone may want to check on Busey just to be sure).
Well, I am happy to report our long national nightmare is finally over. Celebrity Apprentice is back! Now, you may have noticed a few teensy-weensy changes. Although you probably didn’t notice at all because they were so minor. First off, the show has been designated a Trump-free zone. Oh, it also has moved from New York to Los Angeles. And the limo has been replaced by a “choppa.” And tasks are now crammed into one hour instead of drawn out magnificently over two. You know, just tiny stuff like that. Which brings us to the biggest change of all, the one you hopefully did notice: Sadly — so, so sadly — we have had to bid adieu to the best fake receptionist in the history of fake TV receptionists, Amanda Miller.
That’s right, Amanda is long gone and has taken her golden scissors with her to the White House to presumably become the new Mrs. Landingham. In her place is someone named Melissa, and in the biggest injustice of all, this new fake receptionist has been given a computer! Poor Amanda had to sit there scribbling God knows what in her little notebook, but now this Melissa lady can do all the online Buzzfeed quizzes she wants! A travesty of epic proportions.
And let us also shed a tear for the departure of Adrian the Elevator Operator, who knew how to push all the right buttons…if you know what I’m sayin’. (Disclaimer: I have no idea what I am saying.) There appears to be no elevator in the Schwarzenegger Inc. offices, probably because nobody knows what the hell Schwarzenegger Inc. is. (I am guessing Schwarzenegger Inc. was created specifically for the show and the new host seemed to confirm those suspicions when he described his phony-baloney company as a “startup.”)
Don’t think for a second I am taking the show to task for this. Creating a fake company is the most Celebrity Apprentice thing producers could have done and I applaud them for it. Here are the other things that struck me about the first trip down the new Celebrity Apprentice rabbit hole, saving my thoughts about the new host until the end.
Who the hell is Chael Sonnen?
Every Celebrity Apprentice cast has some person you’ve never heard of, and every cast has some person so boring you never even realize they’re on the show. This year that person is one and the same, and that person’s name is Chael Sonnen. I only know this because I just Googled the cast to see what his name was. Then I Googled the dude himself. I guess he was an MMA fighter. Looks like he also got busted for having testosterone levels nearly 17 times that of a normal man and pleaded guilty to money laundering. So, a typical class act for this show.
Then again it’s not like he killed someone while driving drunk. No, that would be Vince Neil, who is also part of the cast. Neil was also arrested two other times after killing someone for suspicion of drunk driving, and in separate instances was reportedly arrested for punching a record producer, assaulting a sex worker at the Moonlight BunnyRanch, assaulting a sound man, and committing battery and disorderly conduct against an ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, he was never charged with any crimes against humanity for the unbearably sappy Motley Crüe power ballad “Without You,” but the wheels of justice often churn slowly.
It remains unclear what — if any — control the Russians had over casting the new season, but I can tell you I had a bit of influence on the appearance of one contestant. Years ago, in Nicaragua on location for the filming of Survivor, I told executive producer Mark Burnett they should cast Boy George on the next season of Celebrity Apprentice, which was about to start filming. He took a note of that and then came back to me the very next day, saying he had already reached out but the singer was touring and unavailable. Not so any longer! So, for better or for worse, that one’s on me.
As for the rest of the group, it’s pretty standard stuff. We have a few athletes (Eric Dickerson, Ricky Williams, Laila Alia, Lisa Leslie), a few reality stars (Snooki, Porsha Williams, Kyle Richards), a few hosts (Carson Kressley, Carrie Keagan, Brooke Burke-Charvet, the hyper-caffeinated Matt Iseman), and other blasts from the past (Carnie Wilson, Jon Lovitz).
What’s in a name?
One of my favorite things of every Celebrity Apprentice season is when the teams (once again separated into men and women) come up with their team names. Because it is literally the dumbest thing to argue about, and yet, grown adults always seem to get into some sort of beef here over how they will be addressed.
Unfortunately, no such fireworks tonight. For the men, Carson nominated Team Flex, but then supported Ricky’s suggestion of Team Pump because “it sounds super gay.” But then Ricky went all highbrow on us by giving us Arete, which apparently is a Greek word meaning striving for excellence. Or striving for boredom. One of the two.
The women threw out a bunch of possibilities, including Renaissance Angels, Mavericks, Vagina (thanks, Snooki!), and Game Changers (wait, isn’t that Survivor?) before finally settling on Lisa’s suggestion of Prima, which sounds pretty Arete to me…assuming Arete does, in fact, mean boring.
NEXT: Carnie Wilson can’t “Hold On”