In a task geared to make the contestants say the word "balls" as often as possible, Trace Adkins rides a dangerous strategy to victory

By Dalton Ross
March 04, 2013 at 07:00 AM EST
Douglas Gorenstein/NBC
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Ladies and gentlemen, our president has been reinaugurated. A new Super Bowl champion has been crowned. Argo has been named Best Picture. Amazing. Simply amazing. But none of these historic events can come close to matching the sheer brilliance of Donald Trump carrying on an extended conversation with Lisa Rinna about the size of her lips. I’m sorry! They just can’t. Nor can they match the strategic advice of one Gary Busey opining that “If you have to fart, fart quick but keep your energy up.” Nor are they even remotely as satisfying as witnessing a former Playboy Playmate take to her knees in front of rock star Bret Michaels. There are some things that just need to be seen to be believed. And they can only be seen in one place: The Celebrity Apprentice.

Admit it, you felt bad when you first started getting into this show — a sort of secret shame you were embarrassed to reveal to others. How could anyone take you seriously when you were busy watching Vincent Pastore pull off his elaborate and aborted “rat scheme” back in season 1? But that time is long past. There is no guilt in this pleasure. We no longer have to pretend we are viewing merely to see deserving charities be the recipients of millions upon millions of dollars. Hell, half the time I fast forward straight through those segments of the show where the checks are delivered and tears are shed. I’m not proud of that, but at least I’m honest.

But here’s the thing, Celebrity Apprentice fans: We’ve won! That’s right, we are no longer open game to be mocked for our excitement over seeing D-list stars attempt to sell RV equipment. The show is now in its sixth celebrity-themed season. And not only that, it’s now doing All-Star Celebrity Apprentice. Sure, that’s a double negative if ever I heard one, but the fact that we have all made it this far together warms my heart almost as much as watching Meat Loaf attempt to find his missing paint.

Now, I’ll admit it: When I first saw the names of the returning contestants who would be competing this season, I was aghast. Where’s Aubrey O’Day? Where’s Annie Duke? Clay Aiken? Cyndi Lauper? Where are the true all-stars? This cast makes no sense! And then it hit me: This show makes no sense. Which is precisely what makes it the best show in the history of shows. If they had an all-star cast that actually made sense, the entire universe might implode.

How perfect is this cast? Well, back when it was announced I actually went on a double-decker bus ride with the contestants throughout New York City. Before they arrived, I looked at the names of the all-stars in huge letters on a poster that covered the bus. Bret Michaels. Okay, that’s cool. Trace Adkins? Sure. Penn Jillette? Ready to make TV magic all over again! But then I saw another name. And I had no clue whatsoever who it was. Claudia Jordan?!? Now, understand that I have watched every single episode of Celebrity Apprentice. And yet I still had no idea who Claudia Jordan was. I had to Google her and only then did I realize she was the Deal or No Deal briefcase-holding model from season 2. How she qualifies as a celebrity or an all-star, I have no idea. I guess she must have raised a lot of money or something. Let’s ask her! “Last time I was here I was not able to raise one cent for my charity” (that’s from her in the premiere episode). So to summarize: No name recognition, no memorable moments, and no fundraising ability. Why is she here then? Because she has to be here! Her absurd inclusion is that special secret sauce that makes Donald Trump’s reality show such a curious beast. (Side note: I promise to never, ever use the words “special secret sauce” and “Donald Trump” in the same sentence again. My sincere apologies for any inadvertent images which may have flickered though your mind as a result of that. )

So let’s embrace them all, shall we? (Well, except for Omarosa who remains as tiresome as ever.) And let the embracing begin right now as we recap the six best things about episode 1 of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice!

NEXT: Bret Michaels picks Omarosa first. WAIT, HE DID WHAT?!?

1. The Worst Draft Choice of All Time

The season kicked off with contestants arriving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to meet The Donald. Trump broke the ice with some patented nonsensical small talk, including his insightful remarks on the size of Lisa Rinna’s lips (“Lisa, those lips went down, Lisa. Way down. I like it so much better. I have to be honest with you. I respect that choice.”). In what would prove to be a running theme throughout the episode, the Trumpster also told Bret Michaels he made a “terrible mistake” coming back to play again, especially considering how strong the competition was. You mean competition like Gary Busey? Or Dennis Rodman? Or Claudia “No One Knows Who I Am And I Did Not Raise One Cent Last Time I Was On” Jordan? That competition?

Because there are more men (8) than women (6) this season, a battle of the sexes simply will not do. Instead, Trump made Bret and Trace draft players one at a time for their teams. Trace picked first and chose Penn Jillette. Quality pick. Can’t argue with it. Then it was Bret’s turn.

Ryan Leaf was drafted number two overall by the San Diego Chargers in 1998. Over four seasons, he threw 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions, while racking up a career passer rating of 50.0. Since then, he has been arrested multiple times and is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence. He is generally considered the biggest debacle in the history of sports. When it comes to top draft picks, however, I still think Bret’s selection of Omarosa is worse. Because while Ryan Leaf may have been a screw-up of epic proportions, he did not make it his life’s mission to destroy the person who drafted him for the sole purpose of a little extra camera time.

I can only assume that Bret never watched Omarosa on the show or he would have picked Lil John, Marilu Henner, Dee Snider, hell even Gary Busey (!) before her. It was a massive mistake, if for no other reason than he would have to listen to Omarosa rapping before all was said and done.

2. On Your Knees If You Please

So the squads were formed and had to decide on team names. Bret’s team tried out various monikers highlighting their white and black attack, until Omarosa took it upon herself  to bust out some of the most unfortunate reality show rhymes since Mike Boogie left the Big Brother house. “I’m sittin’ in Trump Tower/ Tryin’ to get a little power/ And I am able to get fired/ Because I’m tired/ Of going in to fight every night in front of Trump.” Dope. And I don’t mean a dope rhyme. I mean dope. In any event, they went for Power. As for Trace’s team, they had many fantastic Busey suggestions at their fingertips (Sperm Farmers, Carrots, Bred Putting, Sanitation Engineers, etc…) but instead chose Plan B, which Busey pointed out worked well because it was also a method of birth control. (Hold on, is Gary Busey planning to impregnate someone? RUN, IVANKA!)

But why talk about team names when we can talk about Brande Roderick possibly offering oral sex to Bret Michaels?!? Am I embellishing? Well, all I know is Brande was begging Bret for something while bragging that “I have such big donors” (and I think we all know what the Playboy Playmate is referring to when she talks about her big donors). Then she got down on her knees in front of Bret — not the first woman to do so, I’m guessing — and begged some more. But the best part of the entire incident was Bret’s reaction to seeing Brande Roderick down on her knees in front of him — and prepare yourself, because this is a direct quote — “I think, Brande, that you are really jonesing for this.” DID YOU HEAR THAT? I think, Brande, that you are really jonesing for this. Amazing. Are we absolutely sure this is not Celebrity Apprentice: Skinemax Edition? Sounds like someone’s wasting no time busting out his patented Tour Bus Thrust!

NEXT: Trace Adkins doesn’t want your lousy business

3. Trace Adkins Has Balls

The project this week was a first for the show as it involved seeing who could come up with the most sexually suggestive way to incorporate the word “balls” into a sentence. And the results are in! Let’s take a look at the top four finishers.

4th Place: “Can you tell me about your balls?” — Random woman at Team Power restaurant

I like this one: It’s succinct and to the point. This woman clearly wants to know what she’s in for before she progresses any further. Nothing wrong with getting a testimonial before purchasing the goods…if you know what I’m sayin’. (P.S. I don’t know what I’m sayin’.)

3rd Place: “We really enjoyed tasting both of your meatballs.” — Kelly Ripa

Now, this is interesting. We really enjoyed tasting both of your meatballs. WE! Damn, Kelly Ripa is one freak-e-deak! And who is the other person in the we? Husband Mark Consuelos? Co-host Michael Strahan?  Either way — you go, girl!

2nd Place:  “Some of your balls are a little lopsided.” — Claudia Jordan to Bret Michaels

Okay, that’s just rude. First off, how many balls is she implying Bret Michaels has? And to then call them lopsided? I suppose every rose truly does have its thorn. (P.S. I don’t know what I’m saying here either.)

1st place:  “I don’t care if you taste my meatballs and throw up.”  —Trace Adkins

Is he talking specifically to a down-on-her-knees Brande Roderick? I have no idea, but after Clint Black insinuated he used Tide detergent as a lubricant for masturbation back in season 2 and now this, I’m starting to get the sense that country musicians are into some pretty weird stuff.

What? You say the actual project was to rack up as much money as possible selling meatballs? Okay, fine, but if you think producers didn’t design that challenge in the hopes of getting as many ridiculous “balls” comments in as possible, then I’ve got a Gary Busey Omaha Steaks Father’s Day package (complete with kite!) to sell you. And do you know how much restraint it took for me to not devote an entire paragraph to the fact that Penn Jillette spent a few minutes literally juggling his own balls?!? DON’T BLAME ME! IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED!

4. Empty and Loving It

The most intriguing aspect of the task was Plan B Project Manager Trace Adkins’ unique strategy of not only not courting customers, but pretty much forbidding them from entering his store. He even put a sign on the front door saying “Closed for a private function.” Why would Trace do such a thing? Because he wanted to focus all his efforts on bringing in big hitters like Amy Grant, Valerie Bertinelli, and Celebrity Apprentice alum Niki Taylor. He didn’t want to even deal with Joe and Jane Six Pack. “We just opened,” he said while looking around the empty store. “There’s nobody here. And I couldn’t be happier.”

I love the all-in strategy. But would it work? Let’s head to the Boardroom and find out.

NEXT: Ivanka scores her first smackdown on the season

5. Piers vs. Omarosa: The Sequel

Season 1 of Celebrity Apprentice featured probably the most vicious and personal attacks the show has ever seen, with the majority of said attacks occurring between Piers Morgan and Omarosa. Omarosa repeatedly called him a drunk and a horrible father. So it was no surprise to see them immediately go at it again here. Things got testy early at the top of the episode when Piers asked out loud, “Is she the biggest loser in the history of the show?” “She’s a big winner,” said Trump to which Piers replied, “Really?” and all of America replied “Really?”

I don’t think Omarosa even cares about winning. She is there for one reason and one reason only — to shamelessly extend her 15 minutes of fame by playing the character of villain. Which is why she went out of her way to go after Bret. Bret’s a great guy! Everyone loves Bret! And whom do you go after if you want to be the villain? Yep, the guy everyone loves. That’s why she kept repeating the absurd claim that Bret “perpetrated one of the biggest frauds in the history of this game.” (Personally, I thought Omarosa being labeled both an “all-star” and “celebrity” would qualify for that honor, but maybe that’s just me.)

Anyway, Piers and Omarosa kept going at it until Deal or No Deal woman jumped to her teammate’s defense: “You came to our shop bitching and moaning like a woman.” Sounds like someone’s figured out the way to get some more air-time! Unfortunately for her, this move backfired as Ivanka the Boardroom Dominatrix called out Claudia for 1) Arguing with someone who will help determine her fate and 2) Being derogatory towards women. In effect, Ivanka told Claudia — NO DEAL!

6. Math is Hard

Brande can raise money. No doubt about that. It was no surprise to see her reading texts from billionaires. (Hmm, I wonder why rich men would want to be handing money over to a Playboy Playmate? Can’t figure it out for the life of me.) But her math skills started to come into question right about the time she told a visiting Piers Morgan that they had made 5,000 meatballs…a figure that was later amended to 650 by Claudia. And once it was announced in the Boardroom that her team had lost by $170,000 to Trace, things got even more interesting. That’s when each member of her team said how much money they had brought in — a figure that exceeded their total by $80,000. Omarosa refused to confirm any of the numbers because she is Omarosa, leading Brande to blindly pick two people to come back to the Boardroom with her as her two lowest donors — even though she had no real clue as to who her two lowest donors were.

NEXT: Trump says it’s all about credibility. (Whose?)

Brande ended up selecting Bret and La Toya. But while Bret was about to have a very unhappy ending to his tenure on the show, Brande may or may not have given him a happy ending under the Boardroom table, slipping her right hand under the table and onto Bret. Apparently she must have still been “jonesing for this.”  “This is awesome,” the rock star replied. “This is blurring my vision a little.”

In truth, Trump had it out for Bret all along. Just minutes into the episode, he was already telling Michaels that he made a “terrible mistake” by coming back as a winner, and just before firing him Trump admitted that, “Psychologically, it’s awfully hard for me to pick you again.” My favorite part of that admission about being so biased is that it came just moments after Brande’s comment that she did not bring Omarosa back to the Boardroom because she was worried Trump wouldn’t fire her. And how did Trump respond to said accusation? “To be honest, I have to go by credibility, because without credibility this show wouldn’t have been the tremendous success it’s been.” See, I would argue the exact opposite. It is because this show has ZERO credibility when it comes to who stays and who goes that it has become one of the most inexplicably enjoyable programs in the history of television. Arguing about the merits of who is fired and who isn’t is pointless because there is no merit to the entire thing! Which is precisely the warped genius that only us fans can truly appreciate.

So while I am truly sorry to see Bret go because he is both entertaining and likable, his early nonsensical ouster makes absolutely perfect sense within the confines of this game and show. I mean of course Dennis Rodman and Gary Busey would last longer than him! Why wouldn’t they?

But while I am sad that Bret is no longer with us, I am thrilled that you are for another season of recapping the most incredible entity ever to grace our TV screens. And the fun has only begun because now it is your turn. Who are you loving and loathing so far? Are you tired of Omarosa’s act? Perplexed as to why Donald Trump seems to think La Toya Jackson walks on water? Shocked that I did not mention Amanda the receptionist (and her multiple pairs of scissors!) even once? Hit the message boards to let us know. And for more Celebrity Apprentice news and views all season long, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. So excited to take this journey again with all of you, and until next week — say it with me now — Cluck, Cluck…Splash!

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Donald Trump, “you’re fired” — you know the drill.
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