After another win for team Forte last week, the cracks in the men’s Unanimous alliance are beginning to turn into full-on canyons of discord. It was clear from his near miss last week that this was the last chance for Lou to step it up and claim project manager, or be doomed to continually repeat “I give 110 percent” as the doorman saw him out of Trump Towers. But step up he did, much to the apparent dismay of some of his teammates, who assumed he was as good as gone. Meanwhile on the women’s side, Tia Carrere apparently took Trump’s criticisms to heart and volunteered as project manager for Forte, only to have the continued loudmouth axis of Aubrey, Lisa, and Debbie undermine her work. You know it’s going to get heavy when more than an hour of the episode is devoted to back-and-forth in the boardroom.
The task the teams signed up to direct was one of the more confusingly introduced challenges on Celebrity Apprentice to date. Trump brings the teams to the New York Public Library to admire the floors as a segue into the challenge sponsor, O-Cedar mops. Gotta keep those historic floors clean somehow! Both teams have to figure out a way to make a viral video for the new pro-mist spray mop that incorporates a new marketing theme.
If there’s anything America’s Next Top Model has taught us, it’s that the people who are most often responsible for creating viral videos have absolutely no idea how to do it. The men have to figure out what exactly a viral video is before they create one, and their understanding is hazy, at best. The executive who meets with Unanimous requests that the video make the product the hero. Lou takes this a bit literally, wondering if the team should incorporate a superhero theme into the shoot. Penn is clearly fed up with Lou after weeks of having Lou present similar action hero ideas, and he takes a hard line in the boardroom to some of the hackneyed strategies that come up. I can see where Penn’s coming from: A lot of those concepts weren’t particularly original or great. But it’s not a comedy writing room, and the ideas don’t have to necessarily be spectacular so much as something the team can pull off in the time allotted. Clay Aiken has been lying in wait for a while, silently disapproving of things, but this episode was the first one where he spoke out, stewing at Penn’s criticisms until he looked like an enraged leprechaun, and then accusing Penn of “setting Lou up to fail.”
This, in effect, split the team into those that were throwing themselves behind Lou’s efforts, like Arsenio and Clay, and those that, like Paul and Penn, were hanging back a bit. Part of it was because Lou alone starred in the video, a cute bit that posed Lou as a pec-twitching, apron-wearing, mop dancer. Dee directed and edited, but Paul didn’t have much input aside from his theme idea: “I’m gonna mop the floor with you.” But Penn, rebuked and unable to come to terms with Clay’s accusations of condescension, seemed to resign himself to the task while quietly ebbing hurt feelings. Two things that we learned from this exchange: Clay tends to get into an angry giggle when he’s arguing, and Penn is more easily wounded than you might expect from anyone who performs in Las Vegas.
The women were swiping at each other already last week, and it didn’t look like there would be much improvement when Aubrey hailed Tia’s leadership with some catty camera commentary. “This brand has been around for 100 years, just like Tia.” Yowch. The age thing came back up in the boardroom later, when Aubrey pulled the “I’m 27 and you’re jealous” card as the other women looked on aghast. This whole time, Tia has been playing more defense than offense. Her talents are quieter than the other women’s and her leadership is scattered. It wouldn’t necessarily be a death knell, except that Aubrey and Debbie are against Tia’s brainstorming from the beginning. Dayana’s stream of uninspired mop ideas were a babble of “Cinderella” this and “water breaking” that, and they didn’t help matters. Dayana is a hustler, but she doesn’t work with the other women that well, except for her committed ally Patricia.
Lisa comes up with a sexy slogan for the mop that was ripped straight out of a recent Anna Faris movie: What’s Your Number? Yes, this is supposed to somehow also mean the number of mops you’ve owned in a lifetime, but the connection between the obvious sexual meaning and the less obvious commercial potential doesn’t get factored in that well. When Don Jr. comes into the room, they actually seem to make him blush. “Umm, number of mops? Zero. But…” All of the girls write racy testimonials to their cleaning products, and Dayana manages to produce a paragraph so filthy that Lisa Lampanelli deems it inappropriate. Surely there must be a clip of that somewhere. Aubrey and Debbie foment rebellion and work on a BFF-dom, and Lisa backs them up. Their presentations always lean a bit on the camp talent night side, and now, we know why: Aubrey was apparently the president of her sorority. Their video had more of the viral element than the men’s, but it went too far across the line for a mop company, I suspect.
Trump, his cumulus cloud of hair brew atop his head, calls the teams in for a feisty boardroom session, and it doesn’t take much poking around before all the drama tumbles out. To his credit, Penn doesn’t jump on Clay’s remarks as a chance to trash the project or complain, Lou-style, that he was being underused. But everyone except Paul thought that he had been pouting in a corner the whole time, which will no doubt play out poorly for him later on. After the grand airing out of grievances, with much eyebrow raising from Penn and mad-giggles from Clay, Unanimous ends up taking the win for this. This cements Lou in the game for another couple of weeks, but I’m not sure that when the chips are down, he’s as valuable as he thinks he is.
At least they don’t have to deal with the giant quagmire of accusations and cattiness that is Forte’s boardroom session. Lisa identifies Aubrey, Debbie, and her as the creative force of the team. When Trump asks them if they’re a clique, they awkwardly laugh and say “we didn’t even like each other.” Which is, if you recall the plot of Mean Girls, pretty much a clique. Tia fights back, but she never points the finger at anyone, whether because of a sense of pride in the project or personal ethics or just plain lack of gumption, even when Aubrey baits her into a nasty conflict by stating, “If you’re beige paint, just admit you’re beige paint.” Tia doesn’t quite get into the fray, though her smile turned into a sneer. Last week, Adam was punished roundly for taking one for the team, so Tia asked if Trump would pull a similar move if she volunteered. Apparently, Trump didn’t know another person he really wanted to fire this week, so he gave her a pass and let her go out without getting down to a boardroom trio. She wouldn’t have lasted much longer in the game, but she has more going for her than Dayana or Theresa, who don’t seem long for the team if the axis has anything to do with it. Aubrey, meanwhile, is looking like she’s going to bring some Gary Busey-level crazy into the mix soon.
- Aubrey’s necklace in the boardroom looked like a coral reef was trying to strangle her.
- Trump explained his weird use of “Debra” instead of “Debbie” as being from an interview she did long ago, but it still felt awkward, no?
- Trump while the women are trying to explain their concept: “I never think about sex.”