Previously on Celebrity Apprentice: Kenya Moore maybe stole Vivica A. Fox’s phone but definitely came up with an ad campaign involving baked goods and horny babies and was thus fired in the most contentious Boardroom since the Annie Duke Era. It was a weird one. Oh, also Ian Ziering loves terrible puns.
Six people left. Man, we’ve got a long way to go, right?
Back in the suite, Infinity wonders who could have been fired. But when did they stop watching? I can’t go in to this again, so I’ll just move on. In my heart, though, I still wonder. In the lobby, Vivica and Geraldo Rivera commiserate over how crazy that was. They can hear Vivica inside the suite, and Brandi Glanville is thrilled to hear that Kenya went down in flames. When Vortex gets back to the suite, Vivica tells everybody about the stolen phone as if it’s definitely been proven. Geraldo: “What’s next, poison?” There’s quite a step before she reaches Bond villain status, man.
Time for the next task! They meet in a little theater. A lady I don’t know and Joseph from Contact. Oh, wait. That’s just Eric Trump. Hi, Eric! Then Joan Rivers arrives. It’s weird how they really played up her previous appearance on the show and then they kept her out of the promo material for this one. It’s like NBC didn’t watch the season ahead of time and didn’t know she had one more TV appearance after her final TV appearance. (Every week when the ratings come out for this, I’m astonished at how well it’s doing. My opinion is because of the brisk pace with which theyre’re knocking the season out. I hope the folks at NBC take note of that when the next inevitable season comes down the pike.–Myndi)
Trump follows and asks Vivica if she misses Kenya because he wants to set up the only joke he knows, which is “But other than that, you liked her”. He’s not going to let that joke go. This week, they’re going to work with Anheuser-Busch, which is a real company. How’d that happen? Trump asks Joan if she drinks beer and she says “all the time”, because what else is she going to say. The lady I don’t know is an Anheuser-Busch executive and she explains that they have to create a jingle for the ‘Rita line. You know, like their absolutely repulsive Lime-a-rita? Those things are so bad. But she says they’re full of “liquid awesomeness” which seems like the kind of thing I’d say. I should be an executive! (Give me a Zima over one of those anytime. Go ’90s!–Myndi)
They’re going to get a recording studio, a sound technician, musicians, and singers. So what is it that the teams are doing again? Apparently every part of making a jingle that isn’t covered by the professionals they have on hand. They’ll be judged on, you know the words, brand messaging, creativity, and entertainment value. Just once I want them to be judged on level of hustle and/or moxie. (maybe even “the cut of their jibs?”–Myndi)
First, it’s time to even up the teams. Trump asks Geraldo who he’d like from Infinity, and he thinks Leeza Gibbons and Brandi are the stars. Because he doesn’t like Ian, you see. And he forgot that Johnny Damon was there in the room because he wasn’t looking directly at him. Directly at who? I’d better check my notes. Guys, did you know Johnny Damon is on the show this season? Trump says that Leeza is the best and they need her. The pressure’s on for Leeza. Welcome to Team Vortex, Leeza Gibbons! We hope you survive the experience! She steps up as Vortex’s Project Manager and Brandi takes it for Infinity.
Vortex hits the studio and it’s stocked with disgusting beverages. Leeza interviews that Geraldo is a “strong player” but “his ideas have not brought victories”. She asks Geraldo to “download where your head went”, which is the weirdest possible way of asking somebody if they have any ideas. It’s like they’re shooting a reboot of Johnny Mnemonic in between tasks.
Sidebar: Does anybody remember the Johnny Mnemonic VHS release? The cover showed Keanu’s head and there was a hole cut near the top so you could see the spooled tape on the cassette. So it looked like that was inside Keanu’s head. I remember that better then I do anything about the actual movie. Geraldo, as you’d expect, thinks there’s a “Latin hook” and then says some words that I think he made up. Geraldo interviews that Puerto Ricans love Budweiser, which is a stereotype I’ve never heard before. He plays a ringtone which they obviously can’t use so I don’t know why this is helpful.
Leeza scats a bit and I can already tell this is going to be tough because I can’t really recap music. Leeza and Vivica land on something they like, but Geraldo says it’s “not Latino”. And as a Latin, he would know. Vivica says Geraldo wanted to go “Spanish fly”, and I hope she doesn’t know what that means or this is going to be a very weird task. But his idea is about picking up “Rita” at the bar. Only he wants somebody else to turn that idea into something. He wants to sit down at a word processor because that’s where Latin flavor comes from. Leeza doesn’t like Geraldo’s rhymes, but she does like “Nice Over Ice”. Geraldo has contributed three words! (also, “word processor”? I’m shocked he didn’t ask a gal from the steno pool to help out!–Myndi)
Over at Infinity, Johnny sings a jingle as he writes and Ian insists that they write their song in complete silence. He heads to a different room to make sure that he doesn’t hear any ideas or collaborate with anybody. After a while, Ian emerges with a jingle that he has to express through dance. He sings it, and it is “La Cucaracha”. Johnny just laughs about how bad it is, but Brandi gets that this is an existing tune. That aside, Ian awkwardly dancing to a jingle that uses the line “might sound crazy but it’s true” multiple times is pretty funny. (That one just made me think of “Arthur’s Theme”, which has an automatic alcohol tie in, so, yay?–Myndi)
Vortex meets with their musician and composer. Johnny sings his jingle which is all kinds of clumsy. Ian interrupts him to sing “La Cucaracha” again, and I love that the editors add the music whenever he sings, just to make sure you get it. Brandi interviews that Johnny loves music and writes music and has friends in bands. None of that means you’re good at it, you understand. I’ve got friends in bands and I couldn’t write a song to save my life. But it would be neat if Johnny Damon actually had a really great song in him. Or at least a half-decent jingle. Also, given the way Johnny’s golf pro friend never materialized, I’m skeptical of these musician friends of his. I think they’re from imaginary bands. He knows all the guys from Driveshaft and Geronimo Jackson and Dethklok and Crucifictorious…(You have to admit that would be awesome, though. Can we add Stillwater from Almost Famous to the list? –Myndi)
Brandi tells Ian that they can’t use this music that they didn’t write. This doesn’t stop Ian from continuing to sing. Some time later, the actual singers sing… something and Ian interrupts them to give them his take on one of the lines. He also gives advice that doesn’t use words. Ian also claims he can sing but none of the musicians seem impressed. He tries to rework his music so that there’s a different note at the end of each line, which makes it totally not “La Cucaracha”. It’s like when Conan O’Brien plays “Basic Cable Name That Tune”.
Ian interviews that jingles “are part of my wheelhouse”. Just like skin care! That’s quite an array of expertise Ian has. He’s the go-to guy for jingles and skin care. If only they had to write a jingle for a skin care product – he’d win it so hard that he’d replace Trump! Anyway, he interviews that Brandi is indecisive, when really the problem seems to be that she has to be quiet about disagreeing with him so he doesn’t freak out. (This is about when I started to really realize that Ian Ziering and Steve Sanders were more similar than teenage me wanted to think. Both pretentious blowhards.–Myndi)
Over at Infinity, they’re having fun pitching the song to the musicians. Geraldo doesn’t get it, though. He has a problem with the phrase “serious thirst”, and I can’t tell if he’s upset that it isn’t in the jingle or if he’s upset that it is. The composer explains that what Geraldo wants could be done, but it would be “musically difficult” and Geraldo backs off. Well, he says that but then he keeps complaining. And when Leeza engages with him, he reminds her that he’s not in charge. I don’t even think he’s doing this for Boardroom purposes. He’s just super weird when he doesn’t get his way and it’s really childish. Maybe he’ll grow out of it – he’s only seventy-one, there’s still time!
Back to Infinity. The musicians are performing Johnny’s jingle. It’s a better song than I could write, but it’s not very catchy and actually sounds a little muddy. The tune isn’t bad, but it seems to have too many words. I know that’s not a helpful critique, but there’s a reason I don’t recap American Idol. (Well, multiple reasons including that I don’t watch it. But still.) Ian asks if he should work on the graphics, and Brandi tell him to wait until they’ve picked the song. And then an amazing conversation happens.
IAN: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way, Brandi.”
BRANDI: “Are you f***ing kidding me? Stop being so f***ing condescending, Ian.”
IAN: “You’ve contributed nothing. You’re good with a pen. Crossing out things. What have you brought to the party?”
BRANDI: “…I would like you to sit down and shut the f*** up.”
IAN: “That’s valid.”
Holy smokes, I love that. It’s almost like Ian is trying to push Brandi into leadership by needling her. I mean, that’s not actually what’s happening but it’s like he’s a super-annoying Yoda. And “That’s valid”. So great.
Vortex continues with their jingle, based around the hook “Go, Go, Go Lime-a-rita”. There seems to be auto-tune in their jingle which reminds me that earlier this week I forgot T-Pain’s name and it bothered me so much that I had to pull the car over and look it up. Anyway, it’s fine. I can’t really recap a tune but it’s on par with the jingles you hear on the radio today. Leeza announces that they’re done, and the professionals seem surprised at how quickly they finished. One of the guys there appears to be character actor Max Perlich from twenty years ago.
From there, Vortex practices lip-syncing their song for the presentation Geraldo interviews that he’s lost five in a row, so maybe he should let Leeza run this one. I like the more humble Geraldo. I mean, comparatively.
Oh no. Their jingle includes a rap section. Once again, Geraldo raps. He interview that he hasn’t done much rapping even though we’ve seen him it do it twice now. That’s a surprising amount of rap. Geraldo reminds us he’s “more of a Salsa guy”. Why is he so obsessed with reminding us that he’s half Puerto Rican. Is he workshopping a new ventriloquism bit that would seem racist otherwise? Did he steal Jeff Dunham’s talking pepper? He calls himself “MC Rivera”. Sigh.
Over at Infinity, somebody drew a face looking elsewhere on the door to their Sound Lounge. Is it a clue? On the other side of the distracted face door, Ian is still trying to sell his premise and even interviews that he wants “some kind of ‘La Cucaracha’ sound”. One of the musicians shoots him a look that says he is done with this nonsense. Ian’s really off on his own here – Brandi and Johnny are working on something completely different and Ian’s busy taking credit for “La Cucaracha”. It might sound crazy but it’s true!
In Ian’s mind, they’re trying to choose between two jingles, but the rest of the team is trying to fine-tune something that isn’t a previously existing song. I like to imagine that Ian spent all day presenting other songs as jingles, like he came in with the theme to Frasier. “Tossed salad and scrambled eggs! That’s perfect!” Ian interviews that it’s hard to understand Johnny’s jingle. He’s right, but his alternative is unusable so that doesn’t help.
Presentation time! Vortex presents first. Leeza and Vivica are each wearing Bob’s sunhat from the community garden episode of Bob’s Burgers. It’s really funny because they have the actual performers onstage and Vortex is still lip-syncing. That’s especially weird because Geraldo lip-syncs the rap portion when there is a clearly visible person several feet away from him who is actually rapping. I don’t know if this is a requirement of the presentation or if they’re just weird. There’s a cutaway of Joan Rivers and you can see that she has no idea what she’s looking at. You and me both, Joan. Then the team all holds hands an bows together like it’s a community theater production of Fuddy Meers and Geraldo bows way too soon. It’s great.
And now it’s tine for Infinity. They are not wearing hilarious hats. They’re also lip-syncing, so I guess it was required. Their jingle is a mess – the beat is too slow and it’s full of words and you won’t remember it after it’s done. Mostly, they’re singing the names of everything in the “-rita” line and then a couple of lines that I absolutely can’t interpret. It’s got that mumbly Grunge aesthetic that everybody is looking for!
Boardroom time! Trump leads off by asking Leeza if she turned Vortex around. She’s diplomatic about it, but it’s hard not to seem like she righted a sinking ship. If only Sig were there! It’s also boats! Vivica says that Leeza did a great job as Project Management and thought it was courageous that she stepped up. That’s a bit much. Has there ever been a time when one person was switched to another team and they weren’t the manager on that task? Trump asks Geraldo if he should be fired if they lose. Geraldo talks about Carmelo Anthony a “basket-ball” player for the Knickerbockers of New York. Obviously, his analogy loses me early on. But his point seems to be that at some point, maybe it is his fault. That was weird.
Trump asks Leeza if she liked working with Geraldo. She seems enthusiastic about it and calls him “wonderfully cooperative” while also acknowledging that he held on to his bad ideas for a while before he “acquiesced”. Ha! She’s basically complimenting Geraldo by saying “eventually he saw it my way”. (Man, she’s good.–Myndi)
He turns it over to Infinity and asks Brandi what their concept was. She says that they didn’t have one, but in a way that sounds like she’s psyched about it. Well, really the concept was “Seriously. Anything but ‘La Cucaracha’.” Trump asks if she had a hard time working with Johnny and Ian, and she talks about butting heads with Ian. She says he checks out when he doesn’t get his way. Johnny gets credit for writing the jingle. Trump asks him to sing it, and he fumbles. Trump says it must not be much of jingle then. It’s not, but that’s unfair. The dude, who has admitted to social anxiety already, wasn’t expecting to have to sing in front of people. He would have tripped over “Happy Birthday”. (And subsequently had to pay royalties to the estate of Mildred and Patty Hill, who I assume are both still alive and look like female versions of Mr. Burns.) Brandi helps him through it while acknowledging that she can’t sing and Ian tells her to “step up”. Step up to what? 2 the Streets? There’s literally nothing more she can do in this situation than to sing the jingle that he asked for, and that’s exactly what she did.
Increased exposure to Ian Ziering doesn’t make him more likeable.
So Brandi talks about how Ian came up with an unusable jingle and now he’s surly. Ian says he thinks they might have lost the task and he’s not happy with the final product. Trump wonders if that’s disloyal. Johnny says he’s entitled to his opinion, but his jingle was “really bad”. So Ian offers to sing his masterpiece, but Trump stops him.
Trump tells everybody to agree that Anheuser-Busch is a great company. Boy, this is better publicity than their Super Bowl ad where they take on microbrews for having flavor and not tasting like pee. Per Joan, the Busch lady liked that Infinity mentioned all of the flavors and also talked about ice. Ha! Sometime you get a peek behind the veil of corporate America and you see that everybody’s nuts. Anyway, they also thought it was too wordy and wasn’t catchy. They also don’t like that they said “senorita” and made men feel left out. Really. As a man, I’m perfectly willing to live with the 98% of non-tampon advertising that’s aimed at me. Of course, you could make a Lime-a-rita ad that consisted of Alison Brie and Batman talking about their favorite video games and I wouldn’t buy it. (For the record, Alison picked the Arkham games because Batman’s in them and she’s all starstruck. Batman prefers mobile games because he doesn’t get a lot of playtime in so three to five minutes on something like Clash of Clans is perfect for him. Yep, I’m writing fanfiction commercials now.)
As for Vortex, the lead character of Ghost Boy reports that, again, the executive liked that they mentioned. Anheuser-Busch is maybe a year away from just selling bags of ice, I think. That’s clearly their true passion. She also liked that they mentioned both thirst and places where you can drink their product. They had no negatives, so clearly Vortex won.
Also…. oh, wait. That’s just Eric Trump. Hi, Eric!
Vortex returns to the suite, singing their jingle. And then we’re back to the Boardroom. Trump asks Brandi who he should fire, and she says it should either be her or Ian. Wow. That’s pretty bold, especially since Johnny wrote the jingle that they didn’t like. She says Ian is disrespectful and he laughs out loud because it’s very important that he prove her point. Trump says that Ian “doesn’t suffer fools lightly”, which isn’t the phrase, is pretty pompous, and is really mean to Brandi. Yahtzee!
Ian says that there comes a point when your friends have to be your competitors. Which is true, but that point is not when you’re still on the same team. That’s just nuts. Trump says that Ian’s had problems getting along with people and he just says “no”, so that settles it. So Trump asks what Ian contributed and he says he came up with a jingle that they didn’t use and they probably would have won if they had.
Trump asks Ian to sing his jingle, which delights me to no end. The winning team didn’t have to sing anything, but every member of Infinity has been called upon to sing now. So Ian breaks into his song, and Trump just gapes at him and says “That’s ‘La Cucaracha’.” He’s flabbergasted! Trump says it wouldn’t be legal to use it, which isn’t true – it’s in the public domain. But I like that Trump is worried that Ian could have gone to jail over it.
Ian says it was just a framework, but it seems to me like a bad idea to write words to a tune and then change the tune. It’s usually the other way around, like how “Yesterday” was “Scrambled Egg”. Trump focuses on the non-existent legal ramifications and he won’t shut up about it. So, I take it Trump’s automotive branch will not be releasing the Homer next year? (That was a long way to get to a Simpsons reference, but the fact remains that when Homer designed a car, the horn played “La Cucaracha” and I want to bring it up.)
Trump saying “La Cucaracha” is so funny, by the way. He and Ian argue and Trump is frustrated that Ian says they would have won with his jingle that they couldn’t actually use. Ian claims that he never says his was better, which is sort of true. Assuming it didn’t get edited out, of course. He did, however, say that they could have won with his song so the implication is there. Trump doesn’t understand any of this. “Am I going crazy over here?” For once, it’s nice to see him legitimately confused rather than being baffled by things that make perfect sense. (I wonder if this has any bearing on how Trump actually does business. He was so focused on the insufficiency of a campaign that wasn’t even executed, there was no discussion of the failure of the one that WAS. –Myndi)
Trump asks Ian, “Did you want them to use your jingle?” And Ian responds that he did. Trump: “So what are we talking about here?” Ian: “I’m confused myself.” Hee! They’ve both completely lost the thread. There is an argument where people keep yelling the words “La Cucaracha” and Trump talks about how they’ve been there all night. I like to imagine that they trimmed six hours of Trump and Ian not understanding one another. Largely out of frustration, Trump fires Ian. Brandi and Johnny get up to leave, and he tells them to sit down. Oh, we’re not done yet. Trump proclaims that he’s going to fire somebody else, and I have theories about that. We’ll get to it.
Trump asks Brandi who else he should fire, and once again she says that he should fire her over Johnny. As much as the various Trumps cajole her, she refuses to say anything bad about Johnny. Trump tells her she’s not giving him the right answer. He’s got an outcome already planned, and he needs her to tee it up for him. Joan says he has to fire the Project Manager. Then Trump asks Johnny, and he reluctantly agrees that Brandi should go. This is incredibly unpleasant. Trump fires Johnny for writing the jingle and then says “Brandi, you’re Project Manager. You’re fired.” He literally fired her just for being the Manager! Trump fired a whole team for no real reason.
So here’s my Hot Take. As much as reality competitions want to convey the idea that anything can happen, they have producers and network bosses and they need to create a certain number of episodes. Heidi Klum can’t fire seven designers at Project Runway because they need to get a certain number of episodes for the season. And in a case like this, they have corporate sponsors for every task. That has to be lined up ahead of time and if you have a smaller company, like most of the ones we’ve seen this season, this is a big deal. There’s not a lot of luster in sponsoring Celebrity Apprentice, but we’ve seen companies incorporate the show into their advertising. I would think you’re looking at a breach of contract if a task doesn’t happen. So it’s not like Burt’s Bees was waiting at Trump Tower the day after this task wondering what happened to everybody.
Point is, this was more or less planned. They can’t just cancel tasks and run short on episodes without causing trouble for everybody. I think they went into this episode planning on either two or three firings. If Geraldo’s team had lost, Vivica and Leeza would have been fired. (Trump decided from day one that Geraldo is in the finals.) Then the next episode would have been those interviews that they always use to decide the final two, resulting in two firings and then the final task begins for two hours of programming. Since Geraldo’s team won, they had room to fire all three. They’ll probably fire somebody right at the beginning next time and get right to the task. They do the clip show to fill the slot that would have gone to the interview episode, and you’re all set.
Not that any of this really matters – it’s not like we’re being lied to or swindled. I just think it helps make sense of the multiple firings. Especially Brandi’s, which seemed like an afterthought. Yes, it’s always possible that the real explanation is “Trump. That’s why.”, but I need more than that.
Next week, we’ve got a clip show and a new episode. I’m not going to recap the first hour because I’ve already recapped every minute of this show for seven seasons and I refuse to re-recap any part of it. But then the final task begins and I can’t wait to see the live finale. There are two people who’ve waited almost a year to find out whether they won, and that’s hilarious to me.
Also, if you want the full story, check out Today. Sigh.