Maria and Cyndi fight it out, while The Donald becomes obsessed with a particular fashion accessory

By Dalton Ross
Updated April 20, 2010 at 01:29 AM EDT
Ali Goldstein /NBC

The Celebrity Apprentice

S9 E6
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Rain makes corn. Corn makes whiskey. Whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky. But more than that, whiskey makes me want to watch two hours of Celebrity Apprentice. And two hours of Celebrity Apprentice makes me want to drink whiskey. Which in turn makes me want to watch more Celebrity Apprentice. It’s an insidious cycle, people! I’d say this is how I spend 95 percent of my time — chugging whiskey and watching Donald Trump fake-fire people. Well, maybe 87 percent. Actually, more like 70 percent. You know, my math is a little off due to all the brain cells I’ve killed by drinking whiskey. And watching of Celebrity Apprentice.

But it’s worth it! So worth it. Look no further than this week’s episode for proof. Let’s break it down. The episode began with Trump meeting the contestants at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex in New York City. The Donald informed Cyndi and Bret that they would get in themselves one day after their success on The Apprentice, much the same way that Trace Adkins, who stood beside him ”did really well onCelebrity Apprentice and today he’s the biggest country star there is.” There were a few fantastic elements to this. The first being that Bret and Cyndi will never get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex. Why? Because they insisted on performing songs with the word ”Bop” in the title (”Unskinny Bop,” ”She Bop”)? No. Because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex no longer exists! It closed in January. I also adored Trump’s insinuation that Trace Adkins only became a big country star after appearing on his reality show, never mind the 20 singles of his that made the country music charts. Classic Trump. I loved it.

Of course, Sharon was once again missing from the proceedings, leading Holly to opine that ”I have to say that there’s a little bit of preferential treatment going on with Sharon.” Gee, ya think?!? But don’t youdare come within 1,000 miles of this show again, Michael Johnson, because that would simply be unfair. The task was for each team to makeover a country music artist, get him/her ready for a live performance, and prepare him/her for an interview with a People magazine reporter? WHAT?!? PEOPLE MAGAZINE?!? You mean, some other writer from some other magazine is going to be living out my fantasy by appearing and judging on of Celebrity Apprentice? Oh, the pain. It cuts deep.

NEXT PAGE: That’s some tough negotiating, guys

So let’s take the women first. Project Manager Cyndi began by informing Maria that she didn’t want to dress their artist like her, causing Maria to enter a task-long cocoon of despair at being spoken down to by one of her idols. Well, Maria, that’s what you get when you pick an idol who is a protégé of a guy that was best known forwearing rubber bands in his beard. Cyndi and Holly then later had a fantastic conversation where they kept complaining about cutting each other off while repeatedly cutting each other off. After Team Tenacity saw both country singers (Luke Bryan and Emily West), Cyndi insisted on having Emily. There was much debate on how to best negotiate with the guys to make sure they got the singer they wanted, but it all proved unnecessary as the men turned out to be the worst negotiators on the planet. The tense negotiations basically amounted to this:

Cyndi: ”I want the girl.”

Guys: ”Sure, no problem.”

This negotiating strategy (or lack thereof) by the men became necessary because Goldberg informed us that ”I don’t like negotiating with people I can’t beat up,” however if Goldberg can’t beat up Holly Robinson-Peete then he may in the wrong career field. Now that the women had their woman, they had to strategize how to best get her ready for her interview. Cyndi felt she knew the best way to handle the media circus. Maria, however, begged to differ, explaining that ”When I did Playboy you know what they used to ask me: Are you shaved or are you hairy?” I have to admit, I thought this was a bit odd. Why would Playboycare about how often Maria Kanellis is shaving her armpits? She is talking about her armpits, right? What’s that? Oooooooooooh. Never mind.

STOP THE PRESSES! We have a Sharon Osbourne sighting! Repeat: We have a Sharon Osbourne sighting! Sickly Sharon showed up and immediately started hugging and handshaking and kissing cheeks, because what better way to help your team than infecting them with your nasty germs. Also nasty? The make-up job Team Tenacity did on poor Emily, making the spunky young singer look like the tranny from Dirty Sexy Money. ”You air brushed her?” asked Cyndi incredulously? ”You spray painted this kid. She’s twentysomething. You don’t spray paint them. You spray the old buzzards, not the kids.” Cyndi, I have no doubts whatsoever that you are completely frustrating to work with, but keep busting out nuggets of wisdom like this and you’re A-O-K in my book.

Cyndi and Maria continued to irk each other at the photo shoot and then they were…. Wait, what’s going on? Someone’s visiting Team Tenacity. Who is it? Dammit! It’s that dastardly Cynthia Sanz from Peoplemagazine! How dare she?! I mean, sure, maybe she’s a so-called ”expert” in the field of ”country music.” And perhaps she was already ”familiar” with the careers of Luke and Emily. And okay, she may have ”credentials” and ”knowledge” on these sorts of things. But it killed me to see another reporter living out my reality television dream. (My former dream was to be the dude on the mat next to the Amazing Race‘s Phil Keoghan who would dress like a local court jester and smile like a dog on crack while spitting out the words ”Welcome to (fill in the blank country)” in their best broken English. But that was before the genius of Celebrity Apprentice came into my life.) Well, forget you, Sanz! You may have been a judge this season, but I am officially applying to be a contestant on the 2011 edition. I realize I am not even remotely close to resembling a celebrity, but hey, neither was that Deal or No Deal briefcase opening broad. (Granted, she looks better in stilettos than I do, which I have a feeling with Mr. Trump is a significant if not overwhelming obstacle to overcome.) When Emily finally performed her phoney-baloney gig in front of a bunch of Celebrity Apprentice production assistants, she sounded pretty good. So good, in fact, that everyone started to cry, even tough guy Trace Adkins. But not People reporter Cynthia Sanz! You couldn’t crack that heart of stone with a jackhammer!

NEXT PAGE: Goldberg sure knows how to make people smile

So that’s essentially how things went for the women. But what about the men? RockSolid was downright soft when it came time to make a decision on which singer they wanted to work with. Bret called several of his music biz pals to get their advice, and still couldn’t make up his mind. In the end, they just took whomever the women didn’t want, which was Luke Bryan — so accurately described by one of Bret’s buddies as ”a perfect mix of Elvis and Gomer Pyle.” The men took a very unique approach to their makeover by forcing Luke to partake in a gay porno. At least when I see two dudes getting naked in a kitchen together and the production is being put together by a group that calls themselves ”RockSolid,” I have to assume we’re talking gay porno. Although I do have to admit, the plot was a bit confusing on this particular homoerotic epic. It was never clearly spelled out whether Luke or Curtis was the plumber who had to dip into his ”tool box” to check the other’s ”nuts and bolts.” A little attention to script detail would have been nice, gentlemen! That’s all I ask for. In any event, after this shirtless extravaganza, it was no wonder Luke became hesitant to ”step outside his comfort zone” when the fellas tried to offer up other suggestions, like gel in his hair and a necklace around his neck. Again, RockSolid, people!

There definitely was a disconnect between Luke and the team. My favorite part was when Goldberg kept barking, ”SMILE! SMILE! SMILE!” at Luke during his photo shoot, because if anything is going to make someone joyfully bust out a toothy grin it is being threatened by a giant grunting professional wrestler. Actually, Luke and Goldberg are more alike than they think, at least in the grunting department. Goldberg grunts when he gets stressed out in traffic. Luke grunts when he looks at pictures of himself. The two should have a full-blown Celebrity Apprentice Grunt-Off! It would be awesome. We could put both of them in massive gridlock with a portfolio of Luke photos and then… Wait a minute. There’s someone at the door. DAMMIT! It’s Cynthia Sanz again. She’s relentless, this one! Showing up just to mock me (and in a way, herself, because anyone who appears on this show is likely to get mocked by the majority of America). Let’s see what kind of mischief this fiendish black widow has up her sleeves this time. Well, she just made Luke yawn approximately 35 times. This coming after Luke was warned over and over again not to talk or show any indications of being tired in the least. She’s good, this Sanz woman. I’ll give her that. She cut through all the media training to get an amazing, headline-grabbing scoop. I can see it now: ”Luke Bryan: Serial Yawner!” Now, that’ll some magazines. Oh, poor Luke Bryan. You’re career is toast after that little media meltdown, my friend. You may as well just take your rain, your corn, your whiskey, and your baby and just get the hell out of the business, because this business has no room for yawners, mister!

NEXT PAGE: Team Trace!

Even with this knowledge that he clearly had no future in music after his disastrous interview, Luke took the stage anyway and I guess he was fine. Don Jr. was tapping his thumb so I guess that’s supposed to mean he was good. OFF TO THE BOARDROOM! And what an odd Boardroom it was. Trump rightfully went right at the Cyndi-Maria feud, but next thing you knew, Trace Adkins was discussing the difficulty of performing in ill-fitting underwear. (Perhaps Trace was angling for a part in the next RockSolid film production.) But that wasn’t the only odd thing. Sharon Osbourne was in the Boardroom, although I have no idea why since The Donald clearly has no intention of firing her — ever. And after all the build up as to whether Bret’s daughter would be diagnosed with diabetes, all we were told is that Bret ”didn’t get the answer that we wanted to hear” but that ”she’s fine.” I have no idea what that means. Good or bad, a little clarification would have been nice.

Another thing that clearly needs clarifying is Donald Trump’s obsession with bandannas. The man just wouldn’t let up. ”I think bandannas are cool,” Trump noted for the 316th time. ”I think if I were in that business I’d wear a bandanna.” That led to Trace’s perfect response: ”Lucky for me you’re not in this business.” Trace was awesome in the Boardroom. This was only one of three times he actually talked back to the big boss man. ”Enough with the bandanna!” he later admonished Donald. Then, after the women won, Trump fired Goldberg and turned to his left for the obligatory ”I think we made the right decision. What do you think?” This is the point where Ivanka, or Don Jr., or Carolyn, or George, or even that maniac from Mad Money sits there and says, ”Absolutely, sir. Amazing choice! By golly, you’ve done it again! May I shine your shoes with my tongue, please?” But not Trace Adkins. Trace’s response? ”I don’t think so.” The look on Trump’s face was so priceless it was like an entire season’s worth of Blagojevich trying to use a computer or understand Harry Potter terminology. Three cheers for Trace! And here’s hoping he makes it back to the boardroom again soon.

Well, not unlike Goldberg, its time for me to hit the road. But before you go, make sure to share your thoughts on the episode on the message boards, which are now open for business. Who did you like better: Emily or Luke? Whose side were you on: Maria or Cyndi’s? And who should have gone home: Bret or Goldberg? Post away! And for more Celebrity Apprentice news and views, be sure to follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. Until next week: Cluck, cluck…splash!

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The Celebrity Apprentice

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