Connect with us


Review: The Apprentice: Season Five

Each season, at least one group ostracizes one of its members on the grounds that he or she is “unmanageable,” “mentally unstable,” or “an angry black woman.”

The Apprentice: Season Five

Dear Donald:

It’s about time you started taking responsibility for your steadily declining reality show The Apprentice. Rumors about Martha Stewart taking over the franchise by firing you on air were rampant in the media long before the domestic diva’s show ever aired, so accusing her of fabricating that publicity stunt is curious at best—perhaps your ego is so big that you can’t even poke fun at yourself? After reading your mean and very, very devilish open letter to Martha, I couldn’t help but wonder if someone who publicly declares that his show “was, for a good period of time, the #1 show on television” isn’t trying to compensate for some other kind of shortcoming. (This season’s first two episodes didn’t even crack Neilson’s Top 25 despite your guarantee that “it will be a smash.”)

The fact is, Martha’s Apprentice was far more entertaining than the last season of your show. Sure, Martha’s ratings were abysmal, her letter-writing was bizarre, and she never could quite decide on a catchphrase (though episode five’s subsequently abandoned “You’re just not working for me” showed promise), but the show also had Jim, one of the most engaging reality show villain’s since Survivor: Pearl Islands’ Johnny Fairplay. Jim was so maniacally ruthless that you actually found yourself rooting for him. Since Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, however, your villains have obviously been the creation of your crafty editors…or the other contestants.

Each season, at least one group ostracizes one of its members on the grounds that he or she is “unmanageable,” “mentally unstable,” or “an angry black woman.” Okay, so maybe not that last one, but the latest season of your show is no exception to this rule of boardroom bullying: Brent, an annoying, chubby, overzealous employee of the Synergy corporation (if only the opposing team was named The Misfits) who’s obviously no stranger to being an outsider, is neither threatening nor incompetent yet everyone on his team—save for the eloquent and black (but showing no signs of the crazies…yet) Roxanne—is determined to get him fired. It’s no secret that the reality in Reality Television has big giant quotation marks around it, but I find it telling that there were no cameras around when Brent allegedly threatened criminal defense attorney Stacy, who was ousted in one of your “dramatic” double-firings in episode two.

Upon hearing the news that Brent was spared, sticker company owner (yup, that’s right) Andrea locked herself in the bathroom to weep, but things aren’t much saner over on Team Gold rush: Lenny the Russian—you can call him Asshole for short—pooh-poohed two of his fellow teammates’ piety this week (your advisor George Ross observed the Jewish holiday as well) and pondered whether team leader Therea’s brain is as big as her breasts. And yet you never considered firing him, instead focusing your criticisms on harmless, easy-on-the-eyes MENSA member Tarek. In the end, you gave Theresa the boot, and during your scripted, post-boardroom “Did I make the right decision?” small-talk, I could almost hear you thinking “Nice tits” instead.

Your jarring, loud and abundantly overdubbed commentary—rivaled only by Howie Mandel on Deal Or No Deal?—reveals you to be a less than competent host; by comparison, Jeff Probst’s perpetual narration during challenges on Survivor is seamless. Your weekly words of wisdom (last week: “You never can judge a book by its cover”) and the product placement and constant plugs (this week: Chevy Tahoe!) display a lack of insight, creativity, and respect for your dwindling audience. And instead of treating each new season of The Apprentice like an Event, you’re rolling them out like one of your new trophy wives.

With a show like American Idol, at least there’s some kind of payoff: we get to see the birth of a new star—hell, we get to make them a star—and then watch to see whether their careers fail or succeed. As far as we know, your apprenticeships are only slightly less temporary than a Bachelor-born couple; season one’s Bill Rancic seems to be the only one who still has a job—and it’s as a substitute for George whenever he’s on one of his “business trips” (or celebrating the Jewish holiday, apparently)! Your single best hire wasn’t even made on the show: Carolyn Kepcher, who not only possesses the eloquence and humor you lack, but manages to be both a supportive cub mother and whip-cracking disciplinarian, would make a much more able host. In fact, she’s everything Martha wasn’t. Perhaps she should take over the franchise by firing you.

In any event, my great loyalty to you has gone totally unappreciated.



Cast: Donald Trump, George Ross, Carolyn Kepcher Network: NBC, Mondays, 9 p.m.

“Tell the truth but tell it slant”
Sign up to receive Slant’s latest reviews, interviews, lists, and more, delivered once a week into your inbox.
Invalid email address