Apprentice 2: Eric Liebowitz
Whitney Pastorek
November 05, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

”The Apprentice”: The Bow Tie bows out

”Every freakin’ time someone goes into that place, something insane happens.” — the Dragon Lady on the Boardroom.

And with those words, so began yet another mostly — I stress mostly — predictable episode of The Apprentice.

Here’s tonight’s math question, kids! If the job = Refurbish a House the Bestest, and the Project Managers = Sandy and Raj, then let the Person Who Goes Home = PM < J, where the variable of Ivana = 0, and . . .

Ah, forget it. I was never any good at math. Raj was the losing Project Manager, therefore Raj went home. Yeah, Maria, that right there, that’s nuts. That hasn’t happened the last eleventy-million times in a row or anything. Wow, my head is spinning.

Now, that being said, there were some kicky details this week that made it a fun show, so long as we can all agree that we’ve completely abandoned the notion that the person who is going to win this thing will be the best qualified to do anything, anything at all. No, my friends, I think it is time to resign ourselves to the fact that with a few exceptions, we are now left with the slimy, slippery, wiggly worms. You know them, they work in your office: the people who do just enough to squeak by while simultaneously exhausting themselves scapegoating others. They leave their coffee cups in the sink and their TPS reports in the copier and their cell phones in cabs and get bad estimates from printers and exhibit tragically homophobic behavior and blink too much and talk too much and seem like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders when really it’s just the knife they plan to use later to stab you in the back. Yeah. Those people.

Our young entrepreneurs met the Donald on the roof of a high-rise apartment building, where they all had to wear hard hats, except Raj didn’t put his on, and from that moment I knew the boy was a goner. Let’s face it: Raj may like the ladies (more on that later), but a man’s man he is not, and in this construction-based mission, he hadn’t a prayer, even before he tried to put his body through a wall.

(Granted, Trump wasn’t wearing a hard hat, either, but it’s possible his hair serves double duty there. And maybe I’ve been watching too much election coverage, but it occurred to me that Donald Trump and Wolf Blitzer have the exact same voice. It’s that sort of monotone where different degrees of yelling sub in for any actual expression or content, you know? I had a terrifying vision of the two of them on the golf course together. Trump: ”WOLF. IN GOLF. IT IS IMPORTANT. TO CONTROL YOUR CADDY.” Blitzer: ”THANK YOU, DONALD. SO WHAT I HEAR YOU SAYING. JUST TO BE CLEAR. IS THAT IN GOLF. IT IS IMPORTANT. TO CONTROL MY CADDY.” Trump: ”YES. NOW SPEED IT UP. I MUST DELIVER. AN IMPORTANT AWARD. TONIGHT. IN THIS TUXEDO.”).

The big twist this week was the return of the first four victims: Rob, Bradford, Stacie, and or course Ms. Jen, who had to be thrilled at the chance to return seeing as how she has lost her real life job, too. (New York City real estate brokers are evidently not crazy about employees who make apparently anti-Semitic remarks on national TV, no matter how innocuous.) Actually, I think all the returnees represented themselves very well, and now more than ever I mourn their loss — as should Trump, for reasons stated above (see ”worms”). Rob was an enthusiastic, positive worker. Bradford was an articulate, perceptive presence in the boardroom. Stacie was not only a kick-ass door sander but she finally got to take on Ivana — plus Trump and Carolyn and her former teammates all had incredibly complimentary things to say about her (except, you know, Ivana, who by the end of this episode was practically sprouting devil horns and secreting a slow-working but lethal poison from her devil skin). The mea culpas to Stacie bordered on too little, too late, but I suppose a few sincere and kind words are better than nothing (though still < a million dollars), and for anyone still eating a daily Subway sandwich in protest of her firing, I hope this small victory will be enough to allow you to stop doing that, because seriously, dudes, you have got to be so sick of those things by now.

The teams headed out to their houses. They had to hire contractors. Mosaic hired some guy with an enormous eye wart. Apex hired Carlos, on the advice of Kevin, who seemed like he was about ready to make out with Carlos. The two teams started working. Sandy cried. Raj was wearing yellow shorts. Eye Wart sucked. Carlos sucked. But then, in a moment far more deserving of fanfare than the entrance of D.T., up to Mosaic pulled John Jr., another contractor who ”just happened” to be ”driving by” and ”decided” to ”pitch in and help.”

Anyway, John Jr. and his extended family got the renovation done quick. Carlos did not. Sandy’s house looked lovely. Raj’s house looked suspiciously like the ”before” shot from last week’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

(And suddenly I am struck with this vision of all the reality shows running around cleaning up after one another: The Real World cast pukes all over a house. The Apprentice is called in to clean it up and does a crap job. Extreme Makeover swoops in to not only save the day with some new carpet and flat-screen TVs but also convert everyone to Christianity and give them awesome new hairdos. Tyra Banks puts them in the running to become America’s next top model. Modeling falls through, but MTV casts them on The Real World. Bingo.)

So now we’re in the ”insane” Boardroom, knowing Raj is going to get hella fired and expecting a snoozer, but Mark Burnett does something I can’t recall ever seeing on this show before: He allows us to hear what I think the conversation really sounds like, before it’s edited and overdubbed into submission. Sure, I think Donald and Carolyn and this week’s George Substitute were still having a fake discussion about whom they planned to fire, and I’m sure some stuff got cut, but from Bradford smacking down Ivana to Ivana trying to smack down Stacie and getting smacked back down herself, to Chris opening his giant piehole and getting smacked down, to Kevin claiming innocence in his crush on Carlos and getting sm— well, you see my point. It was vicious, but it felt real . . . right up to the point that Trump yet again passed up a chance to boot the useless Ivana. You would think he’d be practically devouring his tie to get a chance to say, ”Ivana, you’re fired.” But no! There she sits! Secreting poison! And Raj walks out the door into the freezing cold night while wearing a very dramatic and wintry overcoat that of course fits perfectly with the sort of balmy summer night that was allowing Mosaic to swim in the ocean out in the Hamptons at that very moment. Sigh.

Anyway, look, everyone: Don’t feel sorry for Raj. Although I no longer have anything even slightly resembling a crush on him, I was sorta fond of the guy, and I think he’ll be fine. After all, even though he’d just been canned, he had the chutzpah to ask for Robin’s number. Oh, did I not mention that part yet? Hang on, let me deliver it like Wolf Blitzer: TONIGHT. BEFORE GETTING INTO THE ELEVATOR TO LEAVE. RAJ. HIT ON ROBIN.

Way to go out with a bang, Bow Tie. We’ll miss ya.

What did you think? Which returnee came off best? Did Raj deserve the boot? And when will they get rid of Ivana?

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