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Finally! A justifiable firing on ''The Apprentice'': The teams set up two mobile businesses -- a massage parlor and a casting scam -- and Michael slacks himself out of a job

The Apprentice (Season 3) | IVANA MAN Michael bragged that, like Trump, he dates Eastern European women only
Image credit: Michael: Craig Blankenhorn/ NBC
IVANA MAN Michael bragged that, like Trump, he dates Eastern European women only

''The Apprentice'': Finally, a justifiable firing

Ladies and gentlemen: Tonight on The Apprentice, for the first time since somewhere waaaaay back in season 2, the project manager was not fired.

Let's just take a minute to let the gravity of that information settle in. I mean, do you realize what this means? Do you?

No one is safe!

(Yes, NBC, I've just written your next promo. That one's free, 'cause I like ya.)

So during this evening's Airstream and unenthusiastic Visa commercial, the kids were asked to create a mobile business, a service they could drag around and peddle to unsuspecting New Yorkers. This, I thought, was a fun mission, if only because I really like Airstream trailers. In fact, if you guys want to get together at the end of the season and maybe buy me a little something, that would really be a thoughtful gift. But anyway.

Let it be known before we go any further that I am now removing all extraneous verbiage from Erin's name, because, dude, that girl has some good lines of crap. In fact, everyone was fairly quippy tonight — well, either quippy or really doofy. The ep kicked off with everyone assuming Audrey (Indian name: Curses With Loudness) was going to get eaten alive by Kristin and then Audrey reappearing and dropping the triple bomb of ''She said I was unable to work with!'' (new Indian name: Stands With No Grammar), ''I'm a nice person,'' and ''*#%@&!'' And as I'm watching our little stevedore get all indignant, I'm thinking, you know, with her throaty voice and that chin thing she does, this girl is like a tiny little Trump — which is why it struck me as so very creepy when, not two minutes later, Michael declared that the boardroom was ''fun'' and that the only thing separating him from Trump was $2 billion. How does he know this? Because he, too, dates Eastern European models ''exclusively.''

(Oh, Raj. Please come back. Why, you'd hit on anything!)

As the task kicked off — schoolmarm Jill was rolling with the homies instead of Carolyn this week (''Have fun, Jill!'' Trump barked, as the woman's face literally did not move one muscle. ''Enjoy it!'') — we found ourselves watching two very different groups of people solve a problem. Net Worth, led by Tana (hey, Tana! Quick — who starred in Kill Bill?), had a brainstorming session that whipped past massage and landed on some sort of mobile casting cart where people would pay $25 to whore themselves out to this Meredith woman and probably end up spending eternity in the Law and Order: Whatever extras pool. I wasn't sure about the morals-ethics-legality-effectiveness of this, but then I forgot that one never underestimates the desperation of actors. (Go, Radar!)

Meanwhile, at the Magna ranch, the kids — led by gay-porn-loving Republican lawyer Bren — showed a pathetic lack of brainstorming ability, whipping through a billion ideas to land on . . . massage. Which, for some reason, cued Michael to start saying ''Massage A-Go-Go!'' over and over and over and then ''Sushi A-Go-Go!'' which, well, I don't know what that is. (Erin: ''Now, Michael, Mommy's busy.'') Then they all ran around town, talking into their cell phones funny — we get that it's a speakerphone, but why must it be held upside down and backwards? — and fighting over cheeseburgers. Mmm. Cheeseburgers.

By the way: Tonight's lesson was ''Instinct,'' and what I learned from it is, if you are a man of indescribable wealth and power, you can hire a fake news reporter to come out and ''interview'' you so you can better spread your particular brand of propaganda to the masses. Fascinating concept!

Okay, so in their totally tricked-out (or, as Erin might say, ''blinged-out'') Airstreams, the little chickens hit the streets. The massage parlor — excuse me: full-service salon — got cracking right away, except for Michael, who whined about having to ask men if they wanted a massage and did his usual crap job.

The casting van took longer to get rolling but once a couple of those struggling waiter saps got on board and probably Blackberried everyone on UnemployedActor.com, the floodgates opened and the circus came to town. I'd like to take a moment here, though, to applaud the rather understated genius of Tara (no, not Tana: Tara.), who not only hired the casting-agent lady after Angie failed but also did a terrific job of talking people in the door. She's got a nice way about her.

And so, when it all came down to the boardroom, Net Worth had exploited the desperate actors to just about $80 more profit than Magna had sucked out of the tight-lower-backed, and they won a trip to play with the pretty pearls (and pretty beauty queens!) at Mikimoto. Meanwhile, Magna basically just sat around and waited for Michael to get sent home. Seriously, did you really think he was gonna make it through? After all, Erin did dub him the laziest man in showbiz. (Do you see? Do you see how she no longer warrants a nickname?) (No! wait! New nickname! How about: the Professor. Ooh, I like it.) Sure enough, Trump laid right into him, smacking down his alleged sexiness (''The girls aren't into you, Michael'') and general stupidity. A bigger surprise for me than the firing was when Jill's face moved — that scared the crap out of me! It was like having something at Madame Tussaud's come alive! Yeesh!

Anyway. After very little deliberation, Mikey the Boardroom Cliché (thanks, Professor!) hopped into a non-continuity-impaired cab (6G41 all the way) and drove off into the night. I shan't miss him any more than I miss ''Unbelievable!'' or the innocence I held before I saw my first vegetable porn. Adieu. To yieu and yieu and yieu. Oh: And I am never parking in Boston again.

What do you think? Is becoming project manager no longer a death sentence? Should they refund the would-be actors' money? Should they refund Visa's money?

Originally posted Feb 18, 2005