The Apprentice: Scott Duncan
Jennifer Armstrong
April 02, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Idaho farmboy lost it in the boardroom

Sure, we love ”The Apprentice” because it pits big business egos against one another, because Donald Trump has an endless supply of entertaining ways to promote himself, because Carolyn just plain rocks. But just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it also became the best dating show NBC’s ever had — mostly because nothing has so distracted and obsessed these aspiring moguls (and THE mogul himself) more than sorta-maybe-a-couple Amy and Nick have.

Not five minutes into the episode, the duo returned from the boardroom (where Katrina was fired last week) as the only remaining members of their team — and Nick took to pouting about Amy’s assertion that Bill was her toughest competition. (Nick, meanwhile, doesn’t have to worry that Bill’s any kind of competition for Amy’s affections — the increasingly outspoken cigar company owner groused to the camera that Amy’s getting a ”God complex.”)

When the five remaining contestants convened to hear about their next task, the Donald took time out from his instructions to ask the lovebirds about their relationship. ”We have a good business relationship,” Nick answered, ”and sometimes we engage in meaningful conversation.” I think we were all supposed to believe that came with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, but did it? Have they really done anything besides work together and talk? (Of course, whether the business relationship is ”good” and the conversation is ”meaningful” is up for debate.) Has anything happened besides a few flirtatious glances, a lot of teasing from housemates (and now Trump), and some loaded editing? We’ll probably never know, but, heck, it’s fun to watch.

Anyway, turned out there was a task to complete besides analyzing Amy and Nick’s romantic leanings — something about having 10 hours to rent out the 90th floor penthouse of Trump World Tower for a party. And there was this whole other, non-romantically-involved team, Bill, Kwame, and Troy.

But back to Amy and Nick. Their aforementioned ”good business relationship” underwent some strenuous testing when Nick the copier salesman went to work on the party planners touring the space, suggesting to them where they could put sofas or a band, while Amy preferred a softer, ”let them have their own vision” approach. ”That’s the way you operate,” he explained to her. ”You know what people are thinking.” She sighed, ”If you say so,” in a way that suggested they’d already been a couple for a decade or so.

Next came that break where Trump offers a little business lesson that usually foretells what will determine which team will win. This week’s gem: ”You cannot be successful without passion for what you’re doing.” And that, in retrospect, could only refer to one thing here: yes, Amy and Nick’s passion for each other. These people are obsessed.

But we were forced to give that other team our attention for a bit. There was some talk about having a salesperson and a closer, car-lot-style: They sent Bill to charm the customers with his cheekbones, then brought them back to a manager-type office where Troy put the screws to them. Troy, of course, used that charm of his to warm ’em up first — for instance, responding to one potential renter’s ”oy vey” by saying, ”That’s my favorite word now. That and ‘shalom.”’ Then he followed the Hebrew lesson by putting the screws to her, which is to say he lied about having two firm offers already.

Cut to Amy, also sort-of not really telling the truth to customers by asserting her team had ”entertained offers upwards of $40,000.” Cut to Amy’s confessional shot in which we see almost nothing but her bare, shiny legs beneath a miniskirt as she admits, ”They were all laughing at us.”

Meanwhile, the ”oy vey” woman was offering Troy $32,500. Bill was complaining to the camera that, ”Troy was the guy who came in and just put the heat on at the end to sell them the undercoating.” A couple in another room was offering $35,000. So Kwame sat in with the Jewish lady while Troy tried to talk the other customers up to $38,500. No deal there, so he ran back and got $35,001 (in case the other team got $35,000 — somebody has been watching some ”Price is Right”) from the first woman. Oy vey, indeed.

With 15 minutes left, Amy and Nick sat silently scowling in the lobby, renter-less. Apropos of nothing, blond Amy said, ”Every redhead I ever knew was with another redhead. What’s up with that?” Carrot-top Nick replied stoically, ”I never dated a redhead.” After that display of business acumen, a party planner they’d seen earlier in the day waltzed in and signed a lease. For $40,800.

Suddenly Amy was slobbering over Nick again and Trump was tee-heeing in the boardroom to Nick, ”You think you and Amy might live in a place like that someday together as man and wife?” And Nick and Amy (clad in perhaps her tiniest mini yet) were off to Trump’s Florida resort for their overnight date? oh, sorry, wrong show. They were off to Florida on a private jet for their reward, which included her incredibly hot sister and his boorish dad, Moose (yes, Moose), tagging along. Moose played along just like this was one of those meet-the-family deals on ”The Bachelor,” helpfully informing Amy that ”Nick has a bad history with women.”

While the foursome sipped mimosas and slurped up caviar, the three other boys were home eating soggy cereal and contemplating their fates. Bill and Kwame inexplicably went to get haircuts, where Bill bitched about the stylist using too much hair gel and then read both their horoscopes aloud. Kwame’s forebodingly said, ”Someone you love and respect will let you down in the next 24 hours.”

The remaining players might want to look to astrology more often: After a bunch of discussion about Troy having no college degree, Bill having a bachelor’s from Loyola, and Kwame having a Harvard MBA, the Twangy One took his buddy Kwame into the boardroom with him and let Bill go back to the suite. But one thing the horoscope didn’t mention was that it was Kwame’s lucky day: Guest judge Bernie (WE MISS YOU, GEORGE!!!) grumbled about Troy being a ”loose cannon,” and so it was that the good-old-boy was sent packing back to Idaho.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though: What were Amy and Nick doing at that moment?

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