By moving to Los Angeles and hiring a new boardroom sidekick (Ivanka!), ''The Apprentice'' has us all fired up

By Whitney Pastorek
January 08, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
Ivanka Trump: Virginia Sherwood

”The Apprentice”: The show washes up in L.A.

As an ancient Nigerian saying goes, ”Welcome back to The Apprentice, ducklings!” Wow, is this one ever shaping up to be a doozy! Now, I hesitate to use the phrase ”creative rebirth” (because as we all know, reality television exists as an antidote to all things creative), but I will say that the changes they’ve made for this sixth season are stunningly effective (even though they did not, as I’d hoped, replace Trump with Alec Baldwin):

1. Los Angeles!

City of Angels, land where the palm trees blow in the breeze but, magically, Trump’s creamsicle meringue pie of hair does not. The Donald picked up and moved all Apprentice operations to a mansion at the top of a hill in Hollywood, and then built what looks like a small industrial park next door, where he will be housing this season’s candidates until the mudslides come and sweep it all away.

2. Tent City!

It’s true: The losing team will be sleeping in tents on the lawn of the industrial park. Of course, they are giant tents, and there is an outdoor shower and a grill and lawn chairs and beer, so I’m not sure what there is to complain about.

Another geographical point of interest: The boardroom is in Trump’s mansion (not to be confused with the industrial park, which is also being referred to as a mansion when, clearly, it is not). Also, Robin has tragically been left in New York, and her Los Angeles equivalent is a possibly German butler-valet whose name was unclear, and therefore we shall call him Gunther.

3. No Lessons!

Unless I was briefly napping, Trump did not teach us a damn thing tonight. In fact, the closest we came to a Fake Business Moment of any kind was him making a phone call to Melania and baby (certainly nothing fake about that sound effect), letting them know he was on his way to L.A.

4. Ivanka!

By far, my favorite change: George and Carolyn are gone; now Trump is flanked by his whip-smart daughter on the left and the week’s winning project manager on the right. And since the project manager remains the project manager until the project manager loses (didja get that?), there’s a chance that a smart, savvy Evangeline Lilly knockoff named Heidi could be occupying that chair for a long, long time. Her team won tonight’s car-wash challenge by about $60 (although the editing would have led you to believe the difference was much bigger), and she stayed calm and collected throughout, even when kneeling on the ground in a short skirt and heels, drying bumpers by hand.

This brings us to the Apprentici themselves, and, golly, they could not be more adorable. And while I wasn’t listening to a thing they said when they were running down their credentials, you can go over to and read all about them when you’re done here. Make sure to notice how the website gives each of them a nickname. For example, Heidi, tonight’s winning project manager — and seemingly one of the most articulate contestants this show has seen in a while — is listed as ”the Hottie.” How empowering!

Angela Former member of the U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team, she’s got a gold medal to ease the pain of being hugged by Trump while the rest of the contestants applauded. Not sure about her business qualifications, but seems to still have all her teeth.

Martin Was willing to hug Trump if Trump would let him go pee. Seriously. Also had the rare distinction of delivering virtually every great line of the night, including three African aphorisms, one of which was basically a direct translation of carpe diem that plunged me into a long deliberation over who should get credit for thinking that up, since it’s possible the ancient Romans and Nigerians were thinking up stuff at the exact same time.

Tim Cute. Cannot operate a sleeping bag.

Nicole Afraid of lizards.

Aaron Pocket-size!

Jenn-Aimee-Stefani-Michelle I’m sure I’ll learn to tell you apart eventually.

Crazy Black Woman Not yet.

Frank Somehow the producers have managed to find a man who is the perfect combination of Lee and Lenny from season 5, a man Martin described as ”like a three-year-old hyperactive kid on grape soda.” Frank became the other project manager because his voice, as you’d expect from Lee and Lenny’s love child, is very, very loud. And even though Frank would like you to know that he is not a loser (”In business, you always have to win. If you don’t, you know, you lose”), I gotta say that his boardroom behavior pretty much solidified him as ”the Loser” to me for the rest of the season. I can’t stand the folks who just talk over everyone, and I can’t understand why Trump kept saying Frank has so much potential. What I do know is that he steamrolled his whole team — most of whom wisely kept their mouths shut, especially Nicole, who lost her voice shouting at cars — and then, when he brought Tim and Martin back to the boardroom, he steamrolled them, too. (The only person he really didn’t steamroll was Ivanka, who more than held her own at the big kids’ table.)

Long story short (I mean, it’s the sixth season of this stuff — you folks are pretty clear on what goes down in a boardroom by now), Martin ended up going home, because he didn’t ”mesh” with the Trump Organization. And all right, it’s the first episode, I’ll let them have it — Martin was a little too prissy in his pinstripes to be standing around at a construction site, and he certainly seemed to err on the side of lazy. So off he went, rolling his suitcase out the front door of the mansion to the driveway, where a black Lexus sedan was waiting to whisk him down from atop the hill, back to real reality. I for one will miss him, although I will be hard-pressed to remember his name in 11 weeks.

So, ducklings, there you have it: the first Apprentice: Los Angeles Survivor of the rest of your lives. And here’s a fun new game to keep us all entertained in case this tent crap gets boring: At the End of the Day Watch, in which we count the number of times that phrase gets used per episode. Tonight I counted two, but I only started paying attention about halfway through, and I was too lazy to go back and rewind. Did I miss any? Discuss!