Unemployed reality show contestants gotta eat, same as worms

Apprentice Cast
Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
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Welcome back, people who still watch The Apprentice! I’ll be recapping this mess every week, and I’m warning you now that I’m probably going to RANDOMLY SHOUT PARTS OF SENTENCES in homage to the most impressive businessman and hair model in the world. Season 10 of The Apprentice is all about the recession. “TALENTED PEOPLE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR WORK,” bellows Donald Trump from his stretch limo as it veers away from an icky bus. And we’re off.

It’s another Battle of the Sexes! The Sexes must pick names. The men consider Next, “because we’re ready for the next level in our lives.” If that’s their approach, they should really just go with Money-Money-Money-Money (Money!) But things get geeky. Steuart, who reminds me of Wall Street (’80s version) and is rather smug about being able to pull off purple and pink hues, immediately disapproves of Alex, who mixes up Phoenix and Icarus. “In order to be Trump’s apprentice, you need to remember that fifth grade mythology stuff,” says Steuart, and much like the ‘u’ in his name, this seems like a joke but is totally serious. Oh, well. Team Octane it is. The women also consider Phoenix, because “we’ve all risen from the ashes of the economy,” and because there are only a few words out there that suggest a person has a MIND FOR BUSINESS (and a bod for sin). After much hemming and hawing over words with strong sexual connotations like Vigorous and Stamina, the women decide on Fortitude. One of the blondes recites the definition of fortitude from the internet. So it’s settled.

The men (Octane) pick Gene as their project manager because he was in the military. The women (Fortitude) pick unemployed attorney Nicole because, well, that idiot volunteered herself. Nicole foreshadows her eventual demise, calling her decision to become project manager “the easiest thing I’ll probably ever do on The Apprentice.” Sounds about right. You heard assistant district attorney Mahsa. Nicole didn’t do anything. Mahsa did everything.

Trump announces the challenge in front of the New York Stock Exchange BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY the Trump building at 40 Wall Street. The challenge: Design and build an ultra-modern workspace.

I wonder how “Don” and Ivanka decide who will be the eyes and who will be the ears?

Right away, Nicole and Tyana clash. Nicole has trouble delegating, and Tyana would probably have made a better project manager due to her background in selling urban loft space. Naturally, Nicole has doubts about Tyana’s design experience because Tyana is wearing a “tacky” polka-dot dress. Since all of Tyana’s ideas are being ignored, Tyana decides to go out and choose the paint colors. Meanwhile, someone’s mom shows up but it turns out to be the Architectural Designer. Nicole and Stephanie go shopping for A/V supplies and Nicole immediately starts gossiping about Tyana. Stephanie’s not having it, especially so early on in the game. “Use [Tyana’s] abilities. Focus, girl,” we hear Stephanie say in a confessional. But all Nicole wants to focus on is that banana.

Next: A man prepares to be photosynthesized!

Over at Octane, David, an unemployed sales rep with five kids, a heavy twitch, and a whole lotta crazy does a little dance upon being tasked with “plants.” Clint and David start disagreeing about the plants, and David responds by keeping his sunglasses perched in the middle of his forehead for the remainder of the challenge. He is ready to be photosynthesized at any moment. The Architectural Designer for Octane solidifies his standing as my favorite character of the season premiere by rearranging his pens whenever Gene or the others are not directly engaging him. So that’s pretty much the whole time. Suddenly David’s freaking out. He was going to call his A/V contact but now he’s thwarting Clint and threatening to call the flower shop? What is going on? David cycles back and forth between what Clint calls “happy-go-lucky and this…flaming, ignited human” — and, true to this description, ends up heroically taking time out from one of his tantrums to flash the camera a maniacal thumbs-up.

Work, work, work. I’m loving how contestants on both teams are utterly thrilled to be performing manual labor. “It felt great to get back to work,” marvels Kelly as she helps to scrape gunk off a window.

“It kind of takes a minute…like, wow! I’m working!” asserts Gene a little too long after the challenge has officially begun. Can you blame him? He’s so old.

Pro tip: Use a dignified, two-fingered approach when hailing a taxi in NEW YORK CITY, brought to you in full by Donald Trump.

Ivanka visits the men, and this goes as expected. James: “Ivanka scared the crap out of me. We had seemingly accomplished nothing.” Don Jr. checks in on the women, and Nicole makes the grave error of complimenting a teammate’s abilities. “Tyana really did get the job done in 45 minutes,” claims Nicole, which, looking back, sounds passive-aggressive. The women will end up collectively blaming Nicole for the time-crunch, anyway. At least Nicole was able to squeeze in an ass-kissing reference to prove she watched The Celebrity Apprentice by calling Tyana “my Cyndi Lauper” — a detriment one day, an asset the next. Time after time.

My favorite things produced by this first challenge are two utterly terrible ideas. The women find some hideous painting of someone’s grandfather and name it “Uncle Forty.” Ha, ha, what a mildly amusing way to blow off steam at the furniture showroom when everyone is tired. But no! They actually hang that thing up so Uncle Forty can eerily watch over Team Fortitude in their crappy workspace. The men, for their part, field a bizarre concept from Steuart. “Why don’t we frame the windows? IN the actual window, we hang an empty picture frame.” Wait, wouldn’t framing the windows like that require placing the frame around the actual window? Or would the frame just target a specific landmark, like another Trump building? Steuart doesn’t have time to think this through. And the men end up not doing this — they don’t have time!

Next: A plea for sensitivity to homeless dogs living in alleys.

There’s also no time to tape down their predatory rugs to the floor. When Octane presents to Trump, not one, but two (!) crew members take a tumble, or, as Steuart says, “tanked on those rugs.” Like wiping out on a gnarly wave, man. I get the feeling that in some small area of Steuart’s brain, Steuart is surfing the entire time, no matter what else is going on.

Fortitude engages in role-playing as they present their workspace to Trump. You can tell Nicole is incredibly uncomfortable entrusting the coveted role of Receptionist to Tyana. “Just be really cute, so he thinks it’s adorable,” she advises, and you know this is hard for her because, as Tyana suspects, “To Nicole, I probably look like the homeless dog living in the alley.” Don’t knock homeless dogs, honey. THIS SEASON IS ALL ABOUT THE RECESSION.

The boardroom, of course, takes forever. Trump dislikes both spaces. Octane’s was just hazardous — “Gene, we almost lost one of our crew members,” Trump overstates. Hey, talk to Anand, he was responsible for the rugs. Gene calls James out on being subversive, and James is shocked. He was just trying to express himself artistically. The child’s-playroom/diagonal-lines motif really worked against the burnt orange wall! Clint “has compassion on David — the guy’s going through hell right now in his life.” Indeed, it must be tough to place one phone call every other week. I’M KIDDING. But who is Clint kidding, not even wearing a tie into Trump’s hallowed boardroom? He should know better. He should wear a bowtie during challenges and a snazzy colorful tie for confessionals, like Grampa Gene. Anyway, the men are safe.

The women are losers, even though, as Brandy claims, they “worked hard and were pretty sweaty by the end of the day.” SLUTTY? No, sweaty! Ha, ha, ha, Donald Trump thought you said slutty! Mahsa is so preemptively vindictive and awful the whole time that I’m convinced she’ll be canned. But she’s good TV, and her face is pretty excellent when it’s not so slutty from all the manual labor. She should bring the drama this season.

I still think Nicole may have done herself in when she referred to her team’s conference room as “the pièce de résistance.”

Nicole saunters confidently into the elevator as Admin Amanda (Admanda?) looks just slightly aghast at not being acknowledged on Nicole’s way out. Nicole’s onto bigger and better things — Trump is gonna set her up for an interview at Miss Universe! IT’S GONNA BE HUGE. The Trump trifecta congratulate themselves on another job well done, the boardroom television murmurs “It was an honor just to be mentioned on-air,” and Mahsa and Tyana clasp hands and stroll into their Trump Hotel suite to hook up. THEIR CREATIVE IDEAS.

Moral of tonight’s episode, from Mahsa: “Everyone thought the Titanic was nice until it went out in the water and sank.”

Remember that. Now go. GO. GO, EVERYONE. GOOD LUCK. GET OUT OF HERE.

Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

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The Celebrity Apprentice

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