On ''The Apprentice,'' the teams are challenged to create a new Pollo Loco item, and one team member gets out of her chicken outfit

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated January 29, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
The Apprentice
Credit: Marisa D.: Mitchell Haaseth
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”The Apprentice”: The chicken-suit wars

Hello, ducklings! I have somehow survived Sundance, and thanks to my friend jet lag, I am coming to you at 5 a.m. with a recap of last night’s Apprentice. Normally I’d be bothered by being up at sunrise to discuss this television program, but apparently all that blogging from Utah has destroyed any semblance of normality my life may once have possessed, and right now this feels like the most natural thing in the world.

And anyway, the episode was good. I should have known we were in for something special when my DVR informed me that ”Andrea Bocelli serenades the winners,” but it wasn’t just the cocktail-hour entertainment that made this episode stand out. I’ve been recapping this show for a long time — 5 seasons, to be exact, over 50 episodes, recapped at 1000 words each, which equals more than 50,000 words (and explains why my novel is not yet forthcoming) — and I have seen it all, from crazy dragon ladies to men with rage issues, from ditzy blondes to borderline sociopaths. It is because of that experience that I feel confident in saying the following:

Congratulations, Marisa, a.k.a. ”the Politico,” whatever the eff that means: You have just been fired for being the dumbest candidate ever to walk through the boardroom doors. You weren’t the most annoying, and you certainly weren’t the most incompetent. But when it comes to pure, unadulterated dumbness, sweetie, you rock.

(Well, it’s a tie between you and that hedge that splits the haves and have-nots. I hate that hedge.)

Tonight’s challenge was to create a new ”bowl” for El Pollo Loco, an L.A.-based chicken chain with the world’s most annoying theme song. (For those not familiar with the ”bowl” concept: Remember that great SNL commercial for Taco Town? Yeah. It’s kinda like that, but, you know, in a bowl.) And I could tell you which team was going to win tonight’s challenge within the first three minutes of the episode, after the geniuses in the editing department showed us the now Michelle-free Arrow kids kickin’ back on the lawn; meanwhile, Heidi’s Kinetic soldiers were stuck in a fluorescent-lit conference room somewhere deep in the bowels of the industrial park, being lectured on…something. (I don’t speak corporate.) And then the phone rang.

”Hello, this is Donald Trump.”

I’m sorry, who is this?

”Donald Trump.”

Oh, Donald Trump! I’m so glad you identified yourself so clearly. I had you confused with Ben Trump, of the Coney Island Trumps.

”Who am I speaking with?”

Okay, so the phone call didn’t go exactly like that, but the point is, Trump called to tell Kinetic they had to send one person over to Arrow, and Surya got the nod. He headed outside, where he was greeted with open arms, open beers — and immediately started to lecture the troops on…something. Nice.

The next morning, when Trump hauled the teams up Mulholland, I got psyched. ”Ooh — there’s gonna be a whacking!” I exclaimed, but no such luck: Instead of assassinating one of the Apprentici and kicking their lifeless body down the hill like any self-respecting captain of in-dus-try would have done, Trump opted instead to introduce the El Pollo Loco execs and your season 5 winner, Sean. Eyes and ears, blah blah blah, and then the teams headed off to their franchises to begin the brainstorming process.

Didn’t it seem like it took a lot longer to come up with products and names in the olden days of this show? Tonight, it took about 45 seconds for Arrow — which, since it is being led by Aaron, I will be calling Aarrow from now on — to develop the ”Chicken Tortilla Bowl,” and just slightly longer for Kinetic to concoct the ”Paradise Pollo Bowl.” It took mere moments after that for Marisa, who was in charge of Kinetic’s marketing, to demonstrate her dumbosity: (1) She kept insisting they call it the ”Bravado Bowl,” and (2) she kept insisting that the only way to market said bowl was to dress two dudes up in chicken suits and send them out to intersections. This idea, she declared, was grandiose! It was original! When her teammates wouldn’t listen, she accused them of suffocating her creativity! And all I could think was, if I spend an afternoon in Los Angeles and don’t see someone in a chicken suit, I get concerned. I’m sure Marisa is a very talented class-action lawyer — she certainly can talk — but when it comes to chicken, she’s just plain fowl.

Oh, stop. You knew I was gonna do that eventually.

Anyhoo. Final score: Kinetic $313, Aarrow $400-something. I didn’t hear the final tally because Aarrow’s screams of joy at getting out of Tent City after four weeks drowned it out. And while the Andrea Bocelli Beach-tacular they received as an award was the stuff of my nightmares, this pack of misfits — including the very cute Tim and my girl the scratchy-voiced Nicole, who appear to be on a fast train to Makeout Village now that they can shower and are both smelling a little better — still managed to be totally adorable. Yes, even Frankie Suits. Most of the time. (To follow up on Helin Jung’s great substitute recap while I was gone: James is the second member of this team to lose his voice from hollering during a task, and if the Apprentice gods have ever loved me, they will make Frankie the third.)

Back at the boardroom, there wasn’t a whole lot of doubt about who would leave, especially once Marisa declared, ”I shouldn’t be back here.” I ask you now the same question I ask whenever someone on Survivor doesn’t know how to make fire: Do you people not watch this show before you go on it? Do you not know that Trump hates interruptions and dopey statements like ”I shouldn’t be back here” even more than he hates gay people? (Kidding!) Sean kept saying how much he liked Marisa’s ”spirit,” which I believe is Sean-speak for ”pretty, shiny hair,” but it wasn’t enough. She hit the road, still yapping about chickens, and Heidi returned to the lawn — no longer project manager but not immediately fired like I’d been predicting, either. Maybe Marisa wasn’t the only dumb person on that team, come to think of it.

At the End of the Day Watch: One. From Sean, of all people. And I’d like to give a special shout-out to the producers for the continued insinuation that living on the lawn is a third-world, immigrant-esque situation: After Aarrow left the campsite totally trashed (reminiscent of the way the Clinton Administration was rumored to have left the White House, come to think of it), Kinetic came in all self-righteous and disgusted, but it was Muna who finally rolled up her sleeves to scrub away the grime. Why? Because she is Jamaican. And in Jamaica, ”People may be poor, but they’re clean.” You heard it here first, ducklings: Crazy black chicks = out! Magical black chicks = in!

What do you think? Was it the balloons that put Aarrow over the top? Do people really want to eat fruit and chicken in the same bowl? And did you feel the need for more discussion of ”price points”?

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