Brian: Craig Blankenhorn/ NBC
Whitney Pastorek
January 28, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

”The Apprentice”: The high schoolers flunk out

This episode was a commercial for so many things I’m not sure where to begin. Yahoo Local! Target! Hewlett-Packard! A college degree! The Jersey Shore! Our two teams of boys and girls set out to renovate motels that smelled like urine and turn them into beachside palaces in two days. Impossible? Not for this show! Hell, who cares if you’re just painting over wood paneling — at least the toilets are new!

I am ready to rate tonight’s episode as one of the best ever, and that’s counting last season’s Excuse Me While I Make Your Dog Bleed-athon. And even better than that, I think we’ve found our theme for these two new groups. Screw ”Street Smarts” and ”Book Smarts.” If last season was ”Stupid Mean People,” then season 3 will forever be known as ”People Who Are Friggin’ Crazy.”

We begin with a girl answering the phone for the second week in a row, and then shirtless Danny to make up for it. This is not gonna do. Rhona is not waking up at 5:30 a.m. to talk to girls, okay, and neither am I. But then Danny put on a snazzy suit and the Friggin’ Crazy People (FCPs for short) headed out to meet Trump. Another thing I’m thrilled with at the moment: They don’t pick the Project Manager until after the project is announced, and so once Trump walked out of his shiny hotel (”We’re having our best year ever,” said the Trump International Robot Employee Lady) and announced the motel-refurbishing job, it was up to the teams to pick who’d be the best at leading everyone through this ridiculous and ultimately futile task. (I mean really: Do you think they remodeled every room in those motels?)

Our friends at Net Worth — the high schoolers — were led by Brian, who, as we learned last week, is scared of jugglers. Magna (cum laude, oh, I get it!) was led by Michael, who has no distinguishing characteristics other than that he’s the absolute spitting image of my friend Neal Pollack. Brian immediately set out to piss everyone off, especially Kristen, who I think we now know is something of (1) a mouth and (2) a reality-show whore (she appeared in the Blair Witch knockoff Murder in Small Town X). The two of them started fighting and never stopped, and poor little Audrey seemed to actually be shriveling from the inside because of it (did you see her with that Kleenex?), and then Angie told Kristen, ”Shut the f— up!” and I screamed with joy, even though it had been in the commercials and I knew it was coming. Meanwhile, Brian was throwing out all the toilets (”Your ass doesn’t know the difference!” croaked poor embattled Audrey), and, well, God knows what everyone else was doing. One thing Craig was not doing: setting up a shoeshine stand. My God. The man is a firefighter.

Meanwhile, as Michael continued to bland his way along, Verna was causing problems. You all remember Verna, right? One of the two black women on the show? Now, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Mark Burnett’s track record when it comes to black women on The Apprentice, but let’s just say, well, he’s taken some heat on this issue. So, you know, why not get it right out in the open from the beginning and have the black woman quit and start wandering the streets basically mumbling to herself? I swear, to God, I have never seen anything like this in my entire life. It is as if he were trying to find these people. Verna should have been sent home right then and there — before Carolyn’s intervention, before she ”learned a lesson,” and definitely before Michael had the opportunity to quote Martin Luther King.

Maybe the best part, though, was when Ashlee Simpson Erin Girl Bangs Person was tearfully hugging her upon her return, and meanwhile they’re running an ASEGBP voice-over that’s basically like, ”Bitch, go home, you suck.” Burnett may be weird, but the man knows how to edit.

Long story short, both motels blew (which is my word for 2005, by the way), and neither team deserved to win, and I felt bad for the guests in general. Basically, the college kids won because, as Danny put it, they all spent four years getting really good at boozing it up with strangers. So into the boardroom for the first time, please welcome Net Worth! And who’s gonna go home? Oh, I dunno. Brian? Wanna volunteer? Yes? You do? Then my God, stop the hemorrhaging! Just send the boy home! Why do we need to reveal Scary Rage Chris (seriously, does anyone remember this guy ever being there before? he’s terrifying!) and get introduced to the word ”galliant”? I’m filing ”galliant” somewhere near ”juggler,” by the way. Net Worth’s embarrassing attempt at refurbishing a fleabag motel was, according to Brian, ”a galliant trip.” I don’t even know what that means — some combination of ”gallant attempt” and ”valiant try”?

Best line of the night, from John (last week’s winning PM and even more of an early favorite now) to the increasingly delusional and possibly drunk Brian: ”Stop pointing the finger and start pulling the thumb.” I’m so using that at work tomorrow. If only my boss weren’t at Sundance. Crap.

Over on the winning side, our edumacated friends were enjoying an evening on Steve Forbes? yacht. I enjoyed how Stealth Kendra, who appears to have it in her contract that she will only speak during the last four minutes of every episode, explained how Mr. Forbes embodied everything the Statue of Liberty stands for, especially freedom. Yes, Kendra. The freedom to board a helicopter and flee a boat full of Friggin’ Crazy People. Oh, by the way, Verna: I saw the scenes from next week. Just quit already.

And finally, let’s just all have a moment of silence approximating that of Brian’s cab ride.

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

Thank you, and good night.

Total Project Managers fired: 2 out of a possible 2.

Cab that Brian got into: 8M76 (this number, if you go back and look, was obviously stuck on by a giant yellow magnet).

Cab that drove away: 3L09?

What do you think? Is this the least competent group of contestants ever? Was there too much fighting? And what is up with this show and African American women?

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