On ''The Apprentice,'' after a team actually causes a store's sales to drop, Trump dumps more than half of them in the show's Biggest. Firing. Ever.
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The Apprentice (Season 4)
Credit: The Apprentice: Virginia Sherwood

”The Apprentice”: Trump dumps four candidates

I am coming to you tonight from Houston, Texas, home of your 2005 World Series sweep-ees, the Astros. If you’re wondering about the tone of melancholy that will dominate this recap, well, I had tickets to game 5. But God, in His Infinite Wisdom, decided my Thursday night could be better spent here at home, watching The Apprentice.

God is never wrong.

Okay, I’m not saying tonight’s episode was better than being at an actual World Series game in your actual hometown — that’s absurd. But I am saying that for the first time in the history of this show, the Biggest. Boardroom. Ever. was actually pretty damn jaw-dropping: Trump fired four people. Sí. Cuatro. El fuego. Adiós.

We opened on a rainy, rainy night, New York City dripping with the tears of Kristi’s soul. The chick team, even with Randal, was down to six people, and they needed help. So Trump pulled his reverse-popularity contest and had the two project managers — Josh and Alla — send the people they hated away.

Your new teams:

Team Excel: Brian (Mini Muffin); Josh (Josh); James (Hunky McHunkerson, or H-Mac for short); Mark (the Jackal); Jen M. (1987 Hair Barbie); Rebecca (Crutches); Marshawn (Smart).

The Women: Alla (Princess Anastasia); Felisha (Bitch); Clay (I never did think of a nickname for this dude); Adam (oh, that’s Jason Schwartzman’s real name!); Markus (Massive Tool); Randal (Dead Granny).

Now, were I a betting woman, I would have put down the 401(k) on the new Team Excel to sweep. Like, dominate. There’s no way the powers of Josh and Rebecca and Marshawn — and by ”powers” I mean ”ability to articulate a rational thought in a language strangely resembling English” — could be defeated, right?

Oh, ducklings. I was so wrong.

Tonight’s project was to create an ”interactive sporting event” at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store (heh heh, you said Dick’s), something that would drive up sales revenue. Team Excel chose baseball, thanks to H-Mac’s skillz with a bat; the Women chose golf, thanks to…oh, wait, none of them play golf. And from the get-go, Josh et. al. sounded plenty smart, and their Astroturf baseball diamond and batting cage seemed like a fine idea. Meanwhile, the Women made a kinda ugly Astroturf golf course and fought a lot. (”Clay is not a man,” announced Alla. ”He is an insecure, bitchy woman times a thousand.”)

Sadly, Team Excel — while putting on a terrific afternoon for the neighborhood kids at the batting cage — neglected to actually sell anything, while the Women moved the merch like crazy. And when the final score came down, it turned out that while the Women had increased sales by 74 percent, Team Excel had actually caused their store’s sales to drop by 34 percent

Ow.

So while the Women headed out for a clambake, Team Excel headed to the boardroom, where someone was going to be fired. Prior to walking in there, Josh and Mark had a discussion about who else Josh should bring back with him, and he actually told Mark, ”You’ve got nothing to worry about.” Yes, those famous last words really will get you every time. When Trump heard from everyone — including Bunker Bill, who’s still sitting in for George and who actually came across as sort of normal and observant tonight — he decided that Josh had done such a crap job that he would not be allowed to choose anyone to come back in with him; instead, Trump sent sales leaders Crutches and Marshawn, as well as the exempt Mini Muffin, back up to the suite.

Left behind were Josh, the project manager; Hair Barbie, who had claimed she could sell eight radar guns in an afternoon but actually ended up selling like two T-balls and a pretzel; Mark, who wasted most of his day feeding balls into the pitching machine; and H-Mac, who had the idea for the distracting batting cage in the first place. Hair Barbie put up another When I vomit, I vomit sugar cookies!-style fight, and Josh used the phrase, ”That’s just a blatant disregard for the truth,” which I loved. One of the many save-me looks that Hair Barbie gave Mr. Hunky confirmed my suspicion that those two are totally making out. And then Trump fired them. All of them.

Now, I have a couple thoughts on this. First — yes, like I said before, it was actually shocking. I mean, we’ve seen two at once but never four (and if you thought the two-person Cab Ride of Shame was awkward…), and who thought that Josh was anywhere near as incompetent as, say, Hair Barbie? This, of course, brings me to my second point: that Trump effectively fired a large percentage of the people who could convey a rational thought in a non-BS fashion. Yep, once again, he’s chucking the folks who might actually make decent employees. And I’m not just saying this because I had Josh picked to win it all — I mean, can you honestly see Clay working for a corporation, even if it’s just running a beauty pageant? (Oh, wait….)

Finally — and God, if this conspiracy theory is true, I will kiss NBC’s Jeff Zucker right on his shiny, shiny head — is anyone else concerned that they are now at least two or three episodes short of their usual arc? How are they going to fill the time? Could it be — could it be — that this mass firing was brought about because NBC actually heard our cries of ”Make it stop!” and have decided to pull the plug early? Oh, maybe God really does know what He’s doing after all.

What do you think? Do you want to see more mass firings? Who would you have picked to go if Trump had fired the usual single contestant? And who should have stayed?

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