TV Article

Exercising Bad Judgment

In the all-too-familiar season premiere of ''The Apprentice,'' the candidates show they can be hazardous to your health club

The Apprentice (Season 4) | FIERY BEAUTY Melissa didn't work out
Image credit: The Apprentice: Virginia Sherwood
FIERY BEAUTY Melissa didn't work out

''The Apprentice'': Survival of the unfittest

They come from all over America! They're hungry go-getters! One of them had a kid at 16! Another is from the South! A third uses bad clichés about fish and ponds! Yes, they are this season's Apprentici, and my God if they don't look familiar!

Welcome back, kids, to another season of The Apprentice; to unnecessary helicopter use, bad suits, horrid business-speak, and rampant exaggeration; to a world where golf is exercise and ethnic minorities are in short supply. Just in case you forgot, this show is hosted by Donald Trump, a man who has built over 100 companies, of which at least several have not filed for bankruptcy, and who has a ''difficult'' time finding people to run them, certainly not because for the last two years he's used a reality TV show to find staffers. Mr. Trump, who wants us all to get along, is assisted by Carolyn, whose hair is a miracle of transformation — is it a mullet? is it softening her? could she be more frumpy? will it change by next week? yes! — and George, whose chronic wasting disease seems to have abated since May. The three of them will spend the next 20 or so Thursday evenings sorting through the assembled contestants to find a worthy successor to the throne previously held by Bunker Bill, MIA Kelly, and That One Girl. The only change for fall '05, as far as I can see: Winning project managers are not automatically exempt, but must be voted so by their own team after winning, a tweak that is totally blowing my mind.

Sigh.

Look, I'm not going to lie to you. In the past, The Apprentice has been a guilty pleasure of mine. I've snarked at it, sure, but I've not minded its existence. This year, I've got a new plan: Let's get the damn thing canceled. They shoot horses, don't they?

Oh, my God. I am watching SportsCenter as I am writing this and *#$&@! Donald Trump just popped and said, ''If you don't watch SC, you're fired.'' How...Why...I...It's like the universe is mocking me to my face.)

Deep breath.

So, some lawyers, some business owners, a black guy with 97 degrees, a hot Russian multimillionaire chick, at least two All-Americans, and a gay dude show up at a golf course. (It's like the setup for the worst joke ever.) They're promptly split into two teams. Ooh, what could the teams be? Lefties vs. Righties? North vs. South? Creatives vs. Corporates? White People vs....oh, wait, that won't work....

No, my ducklings! The two teams are divided into Men vs. Women. Men vs. Women. Why? Why this again? Why this return to the old and tired? ''Sometimes,'' says Trump, ''it's hard telling you apart.''

(My new plan for this season also includes just not even trying to touch lines like that.)

So the men and the women have to create a fitness class at Bally's, which I hesitate to say might have something to do with that whole pizza thing from last season, and can't you just see all these Apprentice fans sitting there on their couches, up to their elbows in Domino's cheeseburger pies, looking at the television in shock like, ''Whaaaa? You want us to do what now?'' The men, a.k.a. Team Excel, get the better gym location because they run to a helicopter fastest — their gym is at Sixth Avenue and 20th Street in Manhattan. The women, a.k.a. Capital Edge (which is so dumb I refuse to write it out ever again, and so from now on the women are going to be called ''the women''), go to Spanish Harlem. Team Excel asks gym members who are already in the gym to take their class, while the women go out on the street and, as far as I can tell, ask bums. The men have a decent little class name, while the women throw ''XXX'' on their flyers, something that only works with porn and Vin Diesel movies, and the latter is debatable.

Someone's grandmother dies.

The men win by like $10. Winning project manager Markus, who talks too much and looks about 20 years older than everyone else and has death-defying hair rivaling that of Trump, does not get voted exempt by his teammates, who all seem to think he's a massive tool. Losing project manager Kristi, who bears a freakish resemblance to Carolyn, decides to just bring one person with her to the boardroom: Hyper Hispanic Melissa, who claims the reason she can't work with women is because they're ''intimidated'' by her ''beauty.'' Needless to say, this goes over like gangbusters and the Hyper Hispanic gets fired, which is really a shame because Hyper Hispanic is a really good nickname. And then the camera zooms in on the door handles for like the 900th time and the HH hits the cab and Trump doesn't even say, ''That was tough,'' and quick as it came, the first Apprentice of this season is over.

And I don't miss it yet. And I hope it sits outside for a little while and thinks about what it's done. This is gonna be a long fall, kids. Your suggestions for the drinking game are welcome.

What do you think? Is the show played out? What changes should have been made to the rules or format? And how does it compare to the Martha version?

Originally posted Sep 22, 2005