On ''The Apprentice,'' Tim and Nicole's romance ends with his unfair firing, which leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated April 02, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Tim U.: Mitchell Haaseth

The Apprentice

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”The Apprentice”: The end of the affair

If you’re keeping score, ducklings, here’s how things now stand:

Trump: 1

Borderline Showmances That Trump Inflated to Brangelina-esque Levels Just So He’d Have Something to Slap Around Later: 0

Yes, in a turn of events so inevitable it makes sunrise seem capricious, Tim was sent packing last night. His entire team declared him disloyal and distracting, and the Trump family agreed. (Speaking of inevitable and distracting, you’ll be glad to know Donald did not have to shave his head at Wrestlemania last night.) Thus does the Most. Believable. Apprentice. Romance. Ever. reach its tragic and heartbreaking conclusion. No more late-night face-licking sessions by the pool. No more squabbles through the hedge. After an episode so angst-filled that I kept checking my DVR to make sure I wasn’t accidentally recording What About Brian, Tim and Nicole now face their days and nights alone. Many of you may be wondering, you know, can their love survive? In my professional opinion…eh, probably not. But hey: They’ll always have Santa Monica. And the hospital. And, um, jellyfish.

Shoot, look at me, now I’m getting distracted by their relationship. In fact, I think I’m going to blame this very mediocre TV Watch on the fact that I cannot think of anything but the lame way this all went down, and I can’t quite figure out why it bothers me so much, but it does.

Last night’s task was to create an advertising supplement for SmartMouth mouthwash that would be included in the L.A. Times. Kinetic, once again led by Heidi, put together a brochure shaped like mouthwash; Arrow put together a square brochure including some boring science diagrams. Despite putting a grammatically unnecessary hyphen in ”24-Hours,” Kinetic won, mostly because theirs was shaped like mouthwash. (”Wow,” said the SmartMouth executive.)

Don’t know if you can tell by my writing, but all of that was kind of boring. Sure, the producers tried to spice up the brochure-making process by tossing in some drama about whether Tim would have a suit for the presentation after Stefani’s phone battery died, but that didn’t work. They came up with a Survivor-style reward involving family members — bringing Heidi’s mother, Nicole’s mother, and Kristine’s top-rated-chef husband to the mansion to cook the girls dinner — but I just kind of shrugged. They even set up the perfect poolside opportunity for Heidi to explain to her small-town mom why she appeared in that Playboy video, but no dice. Tim and Nicole’s relationship was the only thing this episode was about, so, all right, I’m distracted, let’s talk about it.

I have never been convinced that Nicole was as emotionally involved as poor Tim in all this, but then last night’s reward happened, and next thing you know Nicole is soliciting advice from her mom about the relationship. ”Just worry about the tasks right now,” Mom said, in that brilliant mom way, but then I started wondering, gosh, has Nicole really been into it this whole time but just does a better job of keeping her feelings to herself?

The answer, if you think about it, is no! No, she has not! She has been running around squawking about Tim just as much as Tim’s been squawking about her! (Insert eye roll from Heidi here.) And come to think of it, Tim wasn’t doing all that much squawking in the first place! Who started the ”fight” at Arrow the night before the task? James, that’s who! He came back from the boardroom and deliberately stirred the pot by telling the group that Tim’s name had come up. Who then got all hot under the collar about it? Frankie Suits, that’s who! He started hopping around the kitchen screaming, ”They are our enemy! Hate them!” like an elf trying out for the sequel to 300. Frankly (sorry), if I didn’t know better, I’d say all of Frank’s anger is coming from a place of deep jealousy. I’d also say what’s not helping his anger is that he seems to be drunk 98 percent of the time, and that his apparently inexhaustible supply of beer and cigars may be a bigger problem than Tim and Nicole’s relationship ever was. But since beer and cigars are manly — not emasculating, like ”like” (or, God forbid, ”love”) — I suppose that’s okay. He’s a good Bronx boy with a childish nickname who chews with his mouth open and acts like he’s in a sports bar all the time. Perfect for corporate America.

I also suppose it’s okay that James is a toadying yapper whose leadership abilities — at least as they’ve been edited to appear — are fairly unimpressive, and that Stefani is an opportunistic ice queen who has flown so far under the radar I keep waiting for someone to yell at her for breaking the hard deck. See, now I’m just getting mad. I don’t think Tim should have gone home. I don’t think he should have taken the fall for James’ incompetence, Frankie’s obliviousness, and Stefani’s unwillingness to speak. I don’t think it was wrong of Tim to maintain personal loyalty to Nicole despite her move to the opposing team, and I think had things shaken down the other way — had Tim coldly cut her out of his life the minute she switched over — Trump would have bitch-slapped him for that, too. I think Tim was a smart guy surrounded by idiots. And I think this was another one of those bad, stupid firings that make you wonder why people keep calling this a ”job interview process” when clearly no one is even pretending to pay attention to the candidates’ skills anymore.

Come to think of it, maybe Tim’s lucky. I keep forgetting what hell it is to win this thing, and I would hate to see Trump break the spirit of yet another talented young man. Hold on, lemme go find a recent picture of Bill Rancic to remind myself…yep. Enjoy your freedom (and original teeth), Tim!

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Uh, so that’s done…now what’re we gonna talk about? The preview makes it look like the entire bunch collapses under the weight of their own incompetence next week. I am unsurprised. You? And is this — ”I’m gonna be grayed out on the NBC website now. I hate that. I hate being grayed out.” — the greatest parting line ever?

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