On ''The Apprentice,'' off-the-radar Kendra late-blooms her way to victory over in-your-face Tana and gets to renovate a house for a year

”The Apprentice”: Stealthy Kendra wins

It’s so weird. I know it was an hour, and not three hours, and yet . . .

The last-ever episode of The Apprentice until next fall, when they double-team us (Donald and Martha? Can NBC handle all that ego on the same airwaves? Will not the satellites explode?), kicked off with a retrospective. There they were, all 18 of our Apprentici, walking proud with their shiny hair and their rolling suitcases. Who can forget the onion-ring burgers? Or crazy what’s-her-face? How about that one time when Chris yelled, ”I do refurbish homes! ” Sigh. Our little ducklings, all growed up.

I’d like to take this time to say that I have no idea why Mark Burnett doesn’t steal from himself and run the Apprentice finale the way he runs Survivor. I mean, there’s a method that works. Final episode, and then the reunion show. Bam. Done. None of this waiting a week for a forgone conclusion. No stupid blathering on to fill time. A chance to hear from the former contestants! And way more fun. From the moment they showed Sugar Ray Leonard in the audience (and again, man, I just have this hankerin’ to watch The Contender all of a sudden!), I knew we were in for it — and although nothing will ever, ever beat that dude from last season who lost the ability to speak English and ended up jabbering nonsensically and then just stopping mid-jabber to collapse into his chair, a shell of his former self, I must say there was something magical about the extraordinary boredom of this evening’s presentation.

To review, for those of you who are just joining us (run!):

Kendra is the president of her own real estate company. She is ”smart” and ”keen” and points out that she spends most of her time thinking, ”How can I appeal to the buyer?”

Tana is the mother of two who owns a lucrative clothing business and is a massively successful Mary Kay Cosmetics saleswoman. She is ”positive” and ”smart” and when she negotiates, she says, she just gets ”all crazy!”

Who do you want running your real estate company? Ahem.

So here we go: Trump is really rich but he can’t get a whooping audience to sit down on command. Tana appears to have grown a mullet since the show stopped filming. Carolyn has not only grown a mullet but dipped it in some sort of radioactive hydrogen peroxide. Tana ”learns from her mistakes, Mr. Trump” and says her ridiculously bad treatment of her employees was ”a mistake I have learned from.” (Snore. Later, she also says, ”If I win, we all win,” and you can see it going through their heads: Whatever, beeyotch, you’re getting the cushy job — I gotta go back to polishing shoes!) (She also whoops and pumps her fist like a professional bowler when patting herself on the back for making the world-famous Pontiac brochure round. Oh yeah. So professional, dude.) Trump nitpicked Kendra for crying but then said it was ”nice” crying. Carolyn and George nitpicked Kendra for ”flying under the radar” for so long. Kristen seems to have gotten into the same blond bottle Tana and Carolyn have been using and is now unrecognizable, mostly because she lied through her teeth about loving Tana (who must have totally paid her off) and didn’t curse once. Trump is starting to resemble Darrell Hammond’s impersonation. Kelly is not dead. I talked to Bill on the phone on Tuesday and told him to get some sun, and it looks like he listened. There is a Trump Tower in Tampa. If Kelly doesn’t say he loves working for Trump, does he get fired? And if he’s so good at his job, how come I haven’t seen Trump Ice once?

(Note: Rant ahead. Fear me.)

And then, in an unprecedented move, Trump showed the laydeez their options, the projects they’ll be working on, should they be hired. Now, remember: Bill is building a giant skyscraper in Chicago and, I happen to know, working on a large construction project in White Plains, N.Y., as well. Kelly, when not doing a crap job of selling water, is managing four high-end residential properties in New York, one in Tampa, and one high-end corporate building on Wall Street.

The options given to the chicas are:

1. The chance to baby-sit a bunch of bikini models as they prance around the stage in their double-stick tape and look pretty, because, presumably, Tana and Kendra will be able to identify with the project, it being every little girl’s dream to objectify herself for a college scholarship and rub Vaseline on her teeth to hide the darkness in her soul.

2. The chance to remodel a house on the most forlorn strip of beach that Florida has to offer, but hey, won’t that be fun? Think of all the throw pillows and chintz those 11 bedrooms can hold! Why, girls just love playing with their Barbie dream houses, don’t they?


That line up there represents my rage.

Anyhoo, given the choice between gophering at the Miss Universe pageant and flipping through fabric samples for a Palm Beach mansion, at least Kendra went with Offensive Option #2. Because she’s the one who won. I could go into more, like the attempt at insinuating that Kendra and ‘Roid Rage are dating, or how Omarosa is becoming the Mickey Rooney of the Apprentice finale show (Look! She’s still alive!), or how Tana, who, may I once again remind you, sells cosmetics for a living, brayed something about attending the School of Hard Knocks.

But it doesn’t matter. She Who Was Destined to Win Did Win. Huzzah! There is at least that. Tonight, when you are crying yourself to sleep because, my God, Marissa Cooper might have killed someone on The O.C, just hold on to that. Know that Our Girl has the job she deserves, or at least the job she’s contractually obligated to be stuck with for the next 12 months of her life. If she didn’t appear to have a completely doofy boyfriend, I’d suggest she try and hook up with Bill.

It’s been fun, my little muffin tops. Have a great summer. Your assignment, until we reconvene in the fall: I want you all to write lyrics for the opening number of The Apprentice: The Musical. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, dance break, chorus. Got it? Good.

Good night, Robin, wherever you are. . . .

What did you think? Did the right woman win? Was the producers’ choice of girlie projects for the winners conscious or unconscious sexism? And how can they liven up the finale next time?

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