The teams create interactive South African experiences. Lil Jon demands a shark, while Gary Busey goes over the moon

By Darren Franich
April 22, 2013 at 06:01 AM EDT
Douglas Gorenstein/NBC
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Roll with me for a second, because I have a theory: Gary Busey is Don Draper. I don’t mean that he is the Don Draper of Celebrity Apprentice, or that he is a metaphorical Don Draper figure who represents the post-apocalyptic state of modern-day America in the same manner that Don Draper represents the pre-apocalyptic state of mid-century America. I mean that Gary Busey is literally Don Draper. Like, Gary Busey was raised on a farm, fought in Korea, stole another man’s identity, and spent the 1960s as a well-dressed cocktail-swilling advertising man; then, sometime in the late ’60s, he created the identity “Gary Busey” and began a new life as an Oscar Nominated Actor slash musician slash reality TV demi-god.

This theory explains everything about Gary Busey, if you think about it for a second and then stop thinking about it immediately. Like Don Draper, Gary has a way with words; like Don Draper, Gary is an incurable romantic; like Don, Gary has a tendency to sum up all the themes of an episode in a breathtaking soliloquy. On the latest episode of Celebrity Apprentice, we saw Gary tackle one of the greatest themes in all of humanity: Romance. “Romance,” he explained to us, “stands for Relying on Magnificent and Necessary Compatible Energy. Put that on the poster.” Later, he clarified: “The moon represents the power of love a woman carries. When the moon in the South African skies becomes the heart of the birth mother of love…” I understand now! Romance is the moon, and the moon is the heart of the birth mother! It’s not a wheel; it’s a carousel.

Gary’s teammates were angry. They thought that he was slacking off, as they struggled to put together an “Interactive Experience” based on the South African vision of “romance.” But don’t they realize that Gary Busy is the ultimate Interactive Experience? They tried to express romance; Gary simply became romance, became the wild. He found a dark corner, far away from his teammates, and suddenly announced to the cameras: “This is Gary Busey’s one-woman show on Broadway! You know the most deadly thing in the world? Shark fart.” Truer words have never been spoken, probably.

Your usual recapper/Trump Whisperer Dalton Ross is on vacation this week. (Or at least, we think he’s on vacation. It’s entirely possible that Gary Busey kidnapped Dalton and is currently serenading him with a tuba solo on a catamaran sailing to Tierra del Fuego.) Thus, it’s my cruel honor to guide you through the seven wackiest things that happened on last night’s Celebrity Apprentice.

1. The Talking Shark

The task was simple. Actually, the task was bizarre and incredibly abstract. The teams had to create an Interactive Experience Marketing Exhibition Thingamabob in an effort to assist the South African tourist industry. Pause to imagine the South African Tourist Board meeting in mid-2012, trying to figure out how to make their lovely country more attractive to travelers. “Should we run some magazine advertisements?” asks one Boardmember. “Or build a theme park?” suggests another. “What if we get the biggest stars in America to create two interactive experiences, based on the concepts of Adventure and Romance?” Everyone agrees that it’s a great idea. (Little-known fact: Lisa Rinna is to South Africa as David Hasselhoff is to Germany. No she isn’t.)

Team Power wanted Adventure. Lil Jon positively insisted, on the theory that it’s easier to sell Adventure than Romance. Lil Jon, it turns out, was actually the South Africa expert — “expert,” in this context, meaning “person who has been to South Africa.” Lil Jon took ownership of the Interactive Experience’s centerpiece: An actual shark cage, complete with an actual person in an actual sharksuit. Lil Jon hired a “comedic person” to play the shark. Not a comedian. A comedian would have been too fake. Lil Jon demanded authenticity! He coached the comedic person in his shark performance. “Really corny. Dry. ‘I’m swimming over. I’m gonna get you.’ Faster. More intense.” The comedic person looked confused. Trace Adkins deadpanned, “It’s a little juvenile.” (The best thing about Trace Adkins is that he looks and sounds exactly like a cowboy from a Sam Peckinpah movie who fell through a wormhole and wound up in a dark future universe where people have names like Brande.)

I was hoping that Lil Jon would make an executive decision and just play the shark himself. To be honest, I was hoping that Lil Jon would reassemble the East Side Boyz, put them all in shark suits, and lead the cast of Celebrity Apprentice in a stirring rendition of “Get Low.” But no. Instead, Team Power created an Interactive Experience based on the Big Five: Golfing, Surfing, Zip-lining, Glamping, and Shark-Cage Diving. “Zip-lining” was represented by Marilu Henner tying people to an office chair and pushing them around while yelling, “Woooooo!” Tonally, they were going for “Neighborhood Haunted House Being Hosted By The Neighbor You Hate.”

Trace tried to class things up. He wanted to locate Ernie Els and Trevor Immelman, two genuine South African golfers. He picked up the phone. On the phone, someone told him: “None of them are in the country right now.” Who the hell was he talking to? Is there a phone number you can call for updates on the whereabouts of South African Golfers? I feel like if you want to describe the brilliance of Celebrity Apprentice to non-viewers, you have to say this: This is a show set in a world where people pick up their cell phone and say “Hey, can you get me Ernie Els or Trevor Immelman?” and this show is also set in a world where Ernie Els and Trevor Immelman are never available.

NEXT: Penn saves the day

2. Penn’s Romance Package

Team Plan B had the tougher job. They had to sell Romance. And they were only a three-man team. And one of those men was Gary Busey, who — when it comes to accomplishing anything — is actually negative-one man. Which means Plan B was essentially a one-man team this week. Fortunately, that man was Penn Jillette. I mean it as a huge compliment and a withering insult when I say that Penn Jillette might be better at playing Celebrity Apprentice than anyone who doesn’t look in the mirror and see Joan Rivers staring back.

Here’s Penn describing Lisa Rinna: “She’s true like ice and fire.” Here’s Penn describing Gary Busey: “Ethereal, poetic, sometimes here and sometimes there.” This is really high praise, considering that Gary Busey is essentially a sentient box of Froot Loops and Lisa Rinna is an immortal vampire who bathes in the blood of virgin squirrels.

But Penn jumped right into action. He got on the phone and hired Zulu Dancers. He got on the phone and hired a 5-star chef. He got on the phone and hired the drummer from Paul Simon’s Graceland. He essentially conjured up the entire cultural experience of South Africa in a single afternoon. I was hoping that, for the grand finale, Penn would reveal that the guests of honor were Ernie Els and Trevor Immelman.

Penn was so good this week…perhaps he was a little too good. Lisa Rinna looked at him with awe but also some genuine concern. She likes being on Penn’s team, but she knows that, in the long run, he’ll be a tough competitor. Will she plot an old-fashioned Taylor McBride backstab?

3. Gary Busey has been to South Africa

Lil Jon thinks he’s a South Africa expert? He hasn’t met Gary Busey. Gary Busey knows South Africa. He greeted the South Africa representatives with a warm hug, and told them warmly, “I was making a film in your country. They put us up in Johannesburg, and I heard people being murdered.” He repeated this non sequitur several times throughout the episode.

You might think Gary was being offensive. But I choose to believe he was trying to express a deeper primal truth about Romance. Death and Love are the same thing, if you think about it using Gary Busey’s brain. He pitched George his idea for the Interactive Experience. An exotic love. A boy. a girl. The boy is holding two Zulu lion-killing spears. A lion attacks. The boy kills it. They go on their honeymoon. A vision of harmony and love.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” George deadpanned, proving that George has no taste. Can you imagine if the Interactive Experience had been exactly what Gary Busey was describing? If every attendee was given a lion-killing spear, and was then attacked by a lion — or a comedic person dressed up in a lion suit — and then they drank the lion’s blood and went on their honeymoon? That’s romance, folks. Maybe you just aren’t ready for the power of Gary Busey’s truth.

Alas, Team Plan B ultimately went with Penn’s interactive experience. It was a nice idea. The Zulu dancers were cool. The cook was serving bunny chow. It kind of felt like an Elementary School Science Fair that was also a Singles Mixer for Divorced Parents. Gary spent the experience flirting with an attractive girl. “South Africa is romance,” he explained to her, “It’s the moon becoming the heart of the interactive earth mother.” “I’ve been to South Africa,” the girl said, “Twice.” “I’m not talking about South Africa!” yelled Gary.

NEXT: Donald Trump has 99 problems, but drugs ain’t one4. The Taglines.

Team Power had to come up with a nice straightforward way to describe their Interactive Experience. Lil Jon offered an abstract thought: “Once you know…you’ll be there.” Trace threw out a more straightforward catchphrase: “You + South Africa = Adventure.” The second he said it, he winced, sensing that that idea was just stupid enough to become the actual tagline. And sure enough, it was. Trace didn’t dwell on it too much. “You polish my turd, I polish my turd, and we’ll all end up with shiny s—,” he explained. “That should be a song.” The man is a genius.

Meanwhile, Team Plan B was struggling to come up with their own tagline. Lisa suggested: “Romance Beyond Safari.” Gary offered two follow-up suggestions, which were actually just him rearranging those three words: “Beyond Safari Romance. Romantic Safari…beyond.”

It was a big episode for Gary Busey The Poet. Later on, Lisa told him that she was feeling cray cray. “Crick crick?” asked Gary. “Cray Cray!” said Lisa. “You know what that means, right Gary?” “Sure, Queequeg! It’s your middle name! Lisa Queequeg Rinna!” Then he went to go play in the tree, while Lisa danced under a green sheet. Penn made a joke about french-kissing Gary. Cabin fever was setting in.

5. Win one for the Zipper!

Penn the Project Manager explained that the Great Zulu Interactive Experience marked a first for him: It was the first time he ever bought alcohol. (Of course, if this has been an authentic first-purchase-of-alcohol experience, Penn would have bribed a hobo or borrowed his older brother’s ID. Ah, youth.)

“I’ve never drank alcohol before,” Penn said. “I’ve never drank alcohol either!” said Trump, desperately trying to look cool for the Vegas magician. “Not a sip?” asked Penn. “I’ve had a zip,” Trump explained, saying the word “sip” in the weirdest way possible. “A zip,” he repeated. Penn one-upped him: He hadn’t had a sip. “Not a zip?” asked Trump. “Not a sip.” “Zip?” “Sip.” “Zip!” “Sip?” “Zip!” “Sip.” Then they just stared into each other’s eyes for a long time, and no one said a word, and the two men imagined that they could see a little bit of the other man’s soul. Or perhaps that was just their own soul, reflecting back at them.

Then Gary Busey ran into the room wearing a shark-suit and screamed “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE MOST DANGEROUS THING IN THE WORLD IS?” and farted.

NEXT: The Passion of Brande

6. Brande’s Big Move

Brande wanted to step up. Brande wanted to prove herself. Brande wanted to show you what she was made of. Brande wanted to prove that she was a real person. Brande wanted to earn the right to add one more letter to her name, like maybe an “i” or a “y” or even another “e” or anything that would make her name look like it was spelled right. She would even accept an accent over the “e”! People of earth, meet Brandé Rodrique. It’s pronounced “Brawn-day.” It’s French, almost!

So Brande declared herself Project Manager. “It’s a beast of a challenge,” she said. “We’re not just taking on a product. We’re taking on a country.” Unfortunately, Brande revealed herself as an unfit Project Manager almost immediately, when she opted to spend the episode nervously googling “What Continent Is South Africa In?” Without firm leadership, the interactive experience was a mess. Interactive experience? More like interactive experidon’t, amiright?

I don’t want to pick on Brande too much. She was very nervous. “It’s a beast of a challenge,” she said again, “A beast of a challenge. A beast of a challenge. A beast of a challenge.” Even worse: Mr. Trump was already biased against Adventure. “I’m a romantic,” he explained, in the weirdest tone of voice possible. He inquired about Brande’s leadership skills. “Is she a leader, or just a stressed-out bitch? I’m kidding.” He smiled. Brande smiled back at him, hopefully thinking, “Well, Mr. Trump, I may be a stressed-out bitch, but at least my hair doesn’t look like the pubic fur of a decomposing leopard.”

Alas, the South African diplomats or whatever didn’t like Adventure very much. They felt it lacked unique experiences. They felt it was a juvenile exhibition; an amusement park. (They liked the brochure, though.) Lil Jon complained that they had the tough job: “Romance is easy.” Mr. Trump noted that Lil Jon had wanted Adventure. This single random fact somehow became the defining decision of the boardroom. Trump seemed desperate to kick out Lil Jon for choosing one abstract concept instead of another one. But Brande saved Lil Jon; she had loyalty for her Day One Power Colleague.

Saving Lil Jon sealed Brande’s fate. Trump couldn’t kick out Marilu: She made a great brochure. And he couldn’t kick out Trace: Firing Trace Adkins at this point in the game would be tantamount to declaring the end of the American republic. And so, he fired Brande with a typically blistering exit line: “You’re fired. Great job.” He ameliorated the pain of Brande’s spectacular inability to accomplish anything in this game by promising to pay $20,000 to her charity, which further proves that there are no rules on The Celebrity Apprentice. But in all fairness, that’s pretty much true of capitalism, too.

7. The Single Most Important Conversation In The Entire Episode, Nay, In the Whole History Of The World

Donald Trump: “Have you ever thought of being a poet?”

Gary Busey: “Yes.”

Fellow viewers, what did you think of the latest descent into Celebrity Apprentice madness? Did the interactive experiences make you want to go to South Africa, or did they just give you lots of fodder for your next appointment when your therapist? Would you buy a book of Gary Busey’s Bacronyms? What did you make of that random moment when Donald Trump said that there is “no better real estate lawyer” than George? Is he planning to have George killed? (Maybe the final challenge of this season of Celebrity Apprentice will be: Bring Me The Head of George H. Ross.) Can anyone design a brochure better than Marilu Henner? And be sure to check back next week, when Dalton Ross will hopefully escape from Mad Doctor Gary Busey’s Island of Terror to recap all future Celebrity Apprentice shenanigans.

In conclusion, remember: South Africa is romance, and romance is the moon, and the moon is the heart of the earth mother that kills a lion and goes on a honeymoon, and I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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