''Apprentice'': In the season four finale, Trump sets up nice guy Randal to make a not-so-nice decision
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”Apprentice”: Randal’s last-minute shocker

Oh, my little ducklings, I am hopping mad. Hopping, like Crutches, down the hallway of anger, dragging my rolly suitcase behind me. I am so mad, in fact, that I could spend my entire 1,000 words here talking about that rage… but as I am called to recap the entire episode, I’ll hold off until the appropriate time. Why? Because I respect you, and I respect this evening’s candidates — both of this evening’s candidates — and I am not going to use my valuable time just discussing the way I truly believe that Randal, your new Apprentice, is a bad bad man.

Deep breath.

Tonight’s live finale was set up brilliantly — hey, it’s only season four — and we opened on Trump traveling to Lincoln Center, where the final boardroom would be held. He left from Trump Tower and rolled into Alice Tully Hall, where he was met on stage by the lovely Robin, who fist-bumped Carolyn (yes, you read that right) and then either said ”Way to rock it, Mr. Trump!” or ”You’re very welcome, Mr. Trump!” (You can guess which one I’d like to think I heard.)

After a commercial break (led into, I think, by the Golden Globes announcer dude: ”Coming up next! Chad Michael Murray! Charo! And the cast of Yes, Dear! All on the 49th Annual Apprentice Finale Awards!”), we flashed back to the last task: Since it was pouring in Brooklyn, Randal and his team set about moving their event indoors; meanwhile, at the comedy event, Rebecca et. al. hired some substitute emcee with the biggest teeth this side of Hilary Duff. In terms of successfully managing their setbacks, you gotta give this one to Crutches. Randal ended up having his auction in a locker room about the width of my apartment (although, sadly, Outback Steakhouse Guido did not kneecap anyone). The big celebrities — Sugar Ray Leonard, Jerry O’Connell, and Carson from Queer Eye (to whom one should never, ever say ”wet and dirty”) — were forced to stand in the middle of the locker-hallway with all the commoners. All in all, the thing looked like crap, and no matter how much money they raised for the charity, I can’t imagine it was all that much fun to be there.

Over at the Yahoo! party, the Yahoo!tinis were flowing and everyone seemed to be having a good time. After one last lecture from the freakishly mean Yahoo! Dragon Lady about how to ensure that the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation was as marginalized as humanly possible, Trump rolled in and basically manhandled Rebecca into starting the comedy portion of the event half an hour before it was scheduled to begin. I’ll tell you what, if that had happened to, say, my usually very professional coworker Paul Katz, he would not have conducted himself with the sort of composure our dear Crutches employed. Paul Katz, for example, would probably have cried and then downed about 17 Yahoo!tinis. Me, I might have vomited a bit. But start they did, with comedian after comedian making fun of George. Never sit in the front row, George.

At the end of the day — bonus points to Crutches for getting that phrase in there one last time — everyone seemed happy. R&R engaged in some very boring civilized conversation in the suite that basically broke down to, ”Man, it sucked getting through this with a broken ankle.” ”Yeah, well, my grandmother died.” ”This is going to be the toughest boardroom out of all the boardrooms ever!”

The helper monkeys went in first, to tout the excellence of their leaders. Trump was not happy that the Yahoo! event raised no money, and very loudly proclaimed that the purple people better rectify that, while Carolyn could not seem to get over the fact that Randal didn’t check the weather forecast and had no Plan B. Still, the discussion seemed to be coming down to Randal being the greatest person ever to walk the face of the earth — until Toral, God bless her, spoke up. (I shall paraphrase.) ”Rebecca doesn’t cry! And when she does, the tears are made of steel and can use a Blackberry by themselves! Rebecca rescues puppies with one hand while feeding orphans with the other!” By the time Toral finished off with ”She’s a better human being than I am!” (I’m actually not making that line up), I was ready to purchase my Crutches action figure, and I think Trump was, too.

But back to live, back to reality. At Lincoln Center, Crutches walked in, crutch-free, and with frighteningly large hair. Randal walked in, smugness intact, and kept saying ”Let’s make it happen!” Trump gave the fired Apprentici time to get in one last compliment or dig, which gave Alla one last opportunity to be a total raging bitch. Some dude from Yahoo! stood up and announced, rather shamefacedly, that they were donating $50K to each charity… and then it came down to the decision.

A few things. 1) I am assuming that Trump watched the tape of the episode, and therefore saw the way Rebecca was accosted by the Dragon Lady’s demands to sideline those oh-so-depressing AIDS victims. I am also assuming that Trump saw Randal sort of hemming and hawing with autistic lady, and letting his team do most of the heavy lifting for him. 2) After watching the little clip of Rebecca doing her journalism job back in Chicago, I am not sure why she wants this gig anyway. 3) Anyone who Alla hates that much is probably the best hire you could ever make in your life.

But okay, the two contestants had to give their last Oscar speeches, and where Randal obviously grandstanded — asking the fired kids to stand and applaud if he was their choice — I thought Rebecca spoke loudly and clearly and with passion (and also loudly). Given a choice between building two residential towers in Hoboken or helping to do some vague something or another at Trump’s Atlantic City casinos, Randal went for the hookers and blow and Rebecca went for the serious construction task. When it came time to talk about whether they respected their opponent, Rebecca gave an unqualified ”yes,” even managing to cast Randal’s five degrees in a lovely light… whereas Randal could really only muster up ”I run a business, Rebecca writes about business.” This elicited a couple groans from the audience, and I wrote down in my little notebook: I don’t like Randal’s character.

Oh, if only that was the worst of it. Trump said very outstanding things about both, and then, as I guess I always knew he would, he hired Randal. Captain Advanced Degree (finally! a nickname!) leapt out of his chair and started whooping around and hugging Alla, but Trump called him back. ”What do you think of Rebecca?” he asked. ”Uh, er, eh, I,” Randal basically said. ”Do you think I should hire her, too?” Trump asked.

And there it was. The moment of truth. The time for Randal to step up and do a very gentlemanly thing. But his response was, ”No, Mr. Trump. It’s not called The Apprenti. There should only be one.” And to light boos from the audience and quite the look of surprise on Trump’s face, that was how we ended. Randal gets a job. And then given the chance to hire the extraordinarily smart and competent Rebecca, he falls, blazing, onto the sword of his tragic, tragic pride.

Randal might be ”the” Apprentice, but he is not mine. And while I know many of you will disagree with me here, I think there’s a special place in hell for him, right next to Cindy from Survivor, who opted to keep a car for herself rather than give cars to her four opponents. Maybe I’m a dreamer; maybe after 13 years in NYC I am still hopelessly naive, but that’s just wrong. Hopefully, Randal can ask his good buddy Alla to teach him some things about karma. I’ll be over here, weeping for poor, gypped Crutches, until we meet again. Have a great holiday, ducklings. Pray for the selfish people.

The Apprentice
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