On ''The Apprentice,'' one contestant quits, another slacks off, and the losers stage a mutiny in the Boardroom

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated February 05, 2014 at 05:00 AM EST
Danny: Craig Blankenhorn/ NBC

”The Apprentice”: Mutiny in the Boardroom

We open on New York. It is night, the lights are bright on Broadway. And somewhere, far above, a lone guitar plays. This is Danny. He sings. It is heart wrenching, but not for the reason he wants it to be.

Welcome to episode 3 of The Apprentice, in which our overcaffeinated friends create marketing plans for Taster’s Choice, Verna quits (much earlier than expected!), and we learn once and for all what our mothers tried to teach us in high school: rules are rules.

So Verna walked out. She was all decimated from not eating or sleeping for like two whole nights in New Jersey (my God, it is like Survivor!), and no amount of Danny’s camp counseloring — was that a whistle around his neck? are we going to do some trust exercises later? — could convince her of her self-worth. So out, again, came the rolly suitcase, and down the hallway she walked: All, all alone. Bye-bye, Verna! Don’t let the doorman hit you on the way out! As Rhona so bluntly put it (and I paraphrase), ”Thank you. I will let Mr. Trump know that Verna has quit. Now, get your asses back to work.”

So we settled into a task where everyone had to sell coffee. And by the way, the recipes for the coffee drinks made on tonight’s show — ”hot” coffee, and its more challenging sister, ”iced” coffee — can be found somewhere on the NBC website. Sadly, you cannot find the recipe for leadership. Otherwise, I’d suggest a couple people check it out.

Tonight’s job featured Angie as the leader for the high school grads, Net Worth — no, seriously, shut the frig up. Her all-American election idea took her and her team to Union Square to stage some sort of fake coffee political rally. My Apprentice-watching buddy Al and I paused the TiVo and sat for a minute and tried to think about this concept. ”But,” said Al, ”Union Square is where they have political protests.” She’s right: That’s where people gather to scream about foreign policy and whatever whatever. It’s no wonder that they had a difficult time swaying people with coffee. Because no matter how catchy or thematically interesting their marketing scheme was, did anyone see more than like six people paying attention at any given moment? No, the hipsters just walked right on by. If only I’d known about this ahead of time, dammit! I could be $10,000 richer! I had a one in six chance!

Meanwhile, over at Magna, Danny was the team leader (sort of, like a little bit, I don’t know, he wasn’t much of a leader, unfortunately). Stephanie crawled under the table, and they paid $50,000 for an event planner — let me say it again: $50,000 — and they ended up in Bryant Park with a guy on the mike who wears polyester suits and plays guitar giving away iPods. I liked the iPod idea better, but their graphic design sucked and they had mimes. No one ever wins anything with mimes.

But none of this really mattered, did it? Tonight, what mattered was Michael, who was on his own planet from the start: Coffee, he thought, should be sold by beautiful European models. People with money, he thought, would not want iPods because, after all, people without money do not walk, they drive. According to Ashlee Simpson Bangs Erin Person, Michael spent this episode sitting back on a comfortable gold bed of exemption. I don’t know if that was the problem or if the boy is just sort of an ass, but whatever was at the heart of it all, by the time Magna reached the Boardroom, there was a mutiny afoot, and exemption was challenged. ASBEP is, like, smart or something, because she very articulately told Trump that basically everything has a loophole, and Michael deserved to be kicked through it. The rest of the team nodded. But I think the most telling moment came when Trump asked Stephanie (she of the ”Look! I’m smart now!” glasses) if she thought Danny was a good leader. ”I . . . um . . . [clears throat] . . .” she gagged, and Danny was doomed.

Look, I liked Danny as a person. As a camp counselor, I thought he showed real promise. But did any of us actually think that he had a chance here? When he was singing his pretty song up in the suite at the top of the episode, did you clutch your friends and family members and gasp, ”There, my darlings, is a captain of industry”? No. You did not. And so, since he was doomed from the start, I am glad to see he went out in a blaze of insouciance, trying to challenge the accepted wisdom. Sadly, the Boardroom came down to Stephanie and ”two male losers.” Carolyn said, ”Rules are rules,” and Michael was exempt. Period. Good night, Danny. You are who you are.

PS: Al and I both loved the choice Trump gave to Exemption Boy: ”Did you perform badly because you were exempt, or did you perform badly because you’re incompetent?” Dude, you try and answer that properly. Personally, if put in that position, I’d fake asthma. (Of course, Michael’s response was almost unimaginably perfect: ”Neither-or?”)

Total Project Managers fired: 3 out of a possible 3.

Cab that Danny got into: 9H15.

Cab that drove away: 9H15! OMG!

And finally, a farewell to Al. She is moving upstate with her husband, and her contributions to this column, including but not limited to wine and pudding, will be greatly missed.

What do you think? Did either team look good this week? Does this show need more Dannys? And is dead-weight Michael now dead meat?