On the second-to-last ''Apprentice,'' the two finalists, Randal and Rebecca, plan charity events with hand-picked all-star teams, and the usual chaos ensues

”The Apprentice”: The final two face off

Can we all agree that the Outback Steakhouse guy is freakin’ scary? ”You won’t be smilin’ tomorrow if you don’t represent my brand,” he said to Randal, in his very best impersonation of someone who very well may have killed a man in Reno just to watch him die. I know we were all speculating about Trump hiring both contestants at the end of this season, but after that, jeez — is there a chance Crutches is gonna win because Randal will be dead?

Ah, the Apprentice finale, that special time of year when we look back over the last 13 weeks of our lives and think, dear God, what have I done? At least this time we’ve got two intelligent, English-speaking cuties in the final two — even NBC is touting them as ”the brightest final two yet!” So, being bright, they got one seriously nice privilege: a dinner with George (who, despite being a high-powered businessman, had never eaten sashimi before) and Carolyn to pick their employees for the final task. Usually, the two finalists’ teams are chosen relatively at random, with the last six people voted out returning to exact their revenge; this time, Randal and Crutches got to choose from everyone who’d played, opening up the participant pool to some long-lost favorites who are more likely to be supportive because they’re not still trying to get the knife out of their back.

And who was everyone’s first choice? That’s right, punks: My boy Josh was at the top of the list. Randal seemed genuinely choked up to see him — I couldn’t agree more. Lucky Josh. He’s way too normal to have been trapped on this show the whole time, and it appears he went home and got his wife pregnant. Kudos to you, sir!

So, your teams: Randal is planning the Outback Steakhouse VIP Softball Challenge to benefit Autism Speaks at Keyspan Park, in Brooklyn; his team is Josh, Mark, and Marshawn. Rebecca is running the Yahoo! All-Star Comedy Benefit with Joe Piscopo to benefit the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation at Blvd, a nightclub down on the classy, classy Bowery; her team is James, Chris, and, God help us, Toral. That’s right: It’s AIDS vs. autism! Comedy vs. sports! Joe Piscopo vs. the members of (shudder) G-Unit! And the competency of Josh vs. the rampant egotism and possibly bipolar mind of Toral! Classic dichotomies, all! Game on!

Randal started out the day with his ”game frame” on, but Rebecca was the first to drop an ”at the end of the day.” What that means, I do not know, but I didn’t spend that much time thinking about it. I was more concerned with questions like, Why has it taken so long for Crutches’ ankle to heal? (Thanks, posting people, for pointing that out.) And how exactly does event planning help you work in real estate? Are other people as freaked out by Rebecca’s little all-knowing cat look as I am? What will happen when we unleash the horsepower of Chris — will he say ”decor” and ”shimmy” more? Will planning a terrific celebrity softball game somehow honor Randal’s grandmother more than, say, filming a really excellent Lamborghini ad did? And, finally: Is it possible that the Yahoo! lady is even more terrifying than the Outwhack — whoops, I mean Outback — Steakhouse dude?

I wish I had more to offer than those questions, but of course, in true Apprentice style, tonight was mostly filler and setup. Literally — we saw the kids unfolding a lot of chairs (Randal, dear God, it’s okay to take off the blazer when you’re doing manual labor) and brainstorming fund-raising ideas. Randal’s team wasted time visiting a party supply store in what looked like Teaneck, N.J., and Rebecca met with Elisabeth Glaser’s son, Jake, who I am quite certain has never smoked pot a day in his life. And at the end of the day, we were left hanging with a couple terrific cliffhangers:

1. Gasp! Joe Piscopo has canceled and cannot emcee the comedy event! Will the Women rally to find a new special celebrity host? And will their guests somehow fight off their nausea in the sea of purple decorations long enough to donate some money to that worthy cause?

2. Gasp! It’s taken Team Excel hours to set up all the chairs, fences, tents, and signage at the ballpark. Have they burned too much daylight? And will the sunny weather hold, or does the grounds crew need to get the tarp back onto the infield? What’s that? A crack of lighting over the New York skyline? Boom! Lost!

Oh, wait. That’s a different show. Anyhoo. Yeah. Go, Rebecca, and hey, my ducklings? Go, you. Only one week left. Push through the pain! As Bill would say, [insert cliché here]!

What do you think? Who’s going to win? Who deserves to win? Whose brand will be damaged most? And did both Joe Piscopo’s cancellation and that shot of lightning seem a little fake?

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