TV Article

Failure to Lunch

In a two-episode night of ''The Apprentice,'' the contestants have to furnish a kids' rec room and sell an unappetizing sandwich

The Apprentice (Season 5) | MOSCOW MULE Lenny refused to listen to anyone else
Image credit: The Apprentice: Virginia Sherwood
MOSCOW MULE Lenny refused to listen to anyone else

''The Apprentice'': Twice the incompetence!

Let me start off tonight by saying, with a tip of my hat to last week's SNL, that I do not understand Deal or No Deal. At all.

Also, I do not understand why we needed two episodes of The Apprentice this week, except to clear the way for famous people cooking in the weeks to come, but whatever. I'm going to try (and probably fail) to keep this brief; I will also try to go this entire recap without crying once, which is apparently a challenge for all of us girls, unless we are Andrea, who is clearly a robot.

EPISODE 1: EXTREME MAKEOVER: TRUMP EDITION

Task: Work with Ace Hardware and Helpful Faces for Friendly Places to create...what? Oh, my bad. New Faces for Helpful Places? Whatever. Build a really cool rec room for kids. Or, as Trump put it, ''creating a beautiful theme for the wonderful children.''

Project managers: Lenny vs. Michael.

Carolyn: Yes.

George: No, Bill.

Trump lesson: Be decisive. Especially when picking out head shots for one of the many models who are always hanging around your office.

Loser: Lenny.

Why: Turns out he's a moron, sorta.

Lenny was on thin ice, so his plan was to bury Team Synergy in their graves. Sadly, this did not work out. I'm sure it was edited for convenience, but the scene of him and the rest of Goldnanny sitting around that meeting table just staring at each other and the Ace execs in silence was pretty brilliant. Also brilliant: The same execs over at Synergy trying to run for their lives while Michael asked them about everything from team building to light fixtures. We haven't seen much of Michael up to this point, so let me just put this out there now: His voice could put terriers to sleep. And I sure hope he has someone reminding him to breathe in and out, lest he have difficulty making one or more of those decisions. The real show was watching Sean, the Fake Brit, react to his project manager. ''He's just pissing around!'' he yelled, flinging his arms every which way. ''He's a wanker!'' Ah, Sean. I can see why Allie so badly wants to get it on with you. You're like Raj with a fake British accent.

(Unlike Michael, Lenny was decisive — see above, ''Trump lesson'' — but it didn't seem to help. Perhaps Trump meant, ''Be Decisive, But Only About Things That Don't Suck''?)

Anyway, so Synergy put together a room based on the concepts the Ace Hardware folks suggested: teamwork, interactivity, blah-blah. It was a sucky-looking room, but it did have a big-screen TV and a drum kit and ''an area in which we will provide the ability for children to enjoy singing'' (Michael-speak for ''karaoke machine'') and a space ''where a girl can just be a girl.'' (Whew, thank God for that last one. Sign me up for one of those pink throw pillows!)

Meanwhile, Goldsnazzle decided to make theirs a music-only room, with keyboards 'n' stuff. It, too, was sucky-looking, but for the record, the kids at Goldsnazzle seemed way more excited than the ones at Synergy. Still, it all came down to the execs and their desperate need to see kids ''playing'' ''together'' (uh, so overrated), and so Michael et al. won the task and trotted off to their reward, which I will only say involved taking a little girl with cancer on a shopping spree at Toys ''R'' Us, and then I will stop there because if I say any more I will be making fun of a little girl with cancer's dying wish and I will go to big-time hell.

Off to the boardroom and certain death for Lenny, even though Lee spent most of the night trying to teach him English and, you know, sanity. Lee and Lenny are so cute together. I really do think they would make an excellent vaudeville team, or Godfather sequel. But further teamwork from them is not to be, as — in one of the most comedically effective boardrooms ever — Lenny got the boot. Just a quick reenactment of his last moment, for those who missed it (quotes are Trump talking, brackets are Lenny):

''Lenny, you did a'' [No I didn't] ''terrible job leading'' [No I didn't] ''and you didn't ask the'' [No I didn't] ''execs any questions'' [No I didn't] ''and your team doesn't'' [No I didn't] ''respect you'' [No no no no] ''and Lenny, you're fired.''

My one disappointment here is that Lenny's parting words were so tame. Where's the folksy turns of phrase? Lenny, you break my heart. You have ten thousand faces. Still, the circus must go on.

EPISODE 2: NO, REALLY, ARE YOU SURE I'M NOT WATCHING SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE OR SOMETHING?

Task: Go to 7-Eleven and sell lots of their new sandwich, the Peet...Pi-eat...Py...Crap. Do you know I went this entire episode and I have no idea how to spell the product? I think it's P'eatzza, but whatever, look, people: 7-Eleven is now trying to sell you a sandwich in which the bread is made out of pizza. It is a sandwich, sandwiched between two slices of freakin' pizza. Honestly, I cannot imagine anything I want to eat less. All I could think about was that SNL commercial for Taco Town, where you can get, like, a taco wrapped in a pizza, wrapped in a blueberry pancake, wrapped in a crepe and then deep fried. Somebody pass the guacamolito sauce!

Project managers: Leslie vs. the Robot, Andrea.

Team changes: Michael switched to Goldennugget.

Carolyn: Yes.

George: Yes!

Trump lesson: Know Your Customer. Pretty straightforward.

Loser: Leslie.

Why: Price points/crying/the phrase ''Go Leslie, it's your birthday, gettin' fired, on your birthday'' comes to mind.

This task opened with Trump pulling up in his DeLorean to tell the kids about the pizza sandwiches (it is a sandwich, made with PIZZA) and make some uneasy connection to a race car driver who showed up later for reasons I don't really understand. [Note: According to readers, Trump's car is actually a Mercedes. Thanks, guys!] And then the little Apprentici trotted off to figure out what else they could sell Americans that they don't need, to go along with the massive pizza sandwich that should not exist. I don't care how delicious the turkey is, Allie: Turkey and lettuce do not belong sandwiched between two slices of pizza. And Andrea, I don't care how domineering you are, you control freak — I am never eating one of those. (''People think I have control problems,'' responds Andrea, ''and I'm like, Really? Because I have a really nice life. Playing with stickers. That I own. All of them. Mwahahahaha.'')

So there was a lot of hoo-hah here and there with this task, including one frightening moment when Roxanne was left holding like 15 dogs outside the store. (People! Do not give your dogs to the Apprentici! Have we learned nothing?) But it came down to this: Synergy gave away a free hat with every $4 Giant Disgusting Pizza Sandwich purchase. Goldbucket gave away a free mini-cooler for ''only'' $7.99. Furthermore, two Giant Disgusting Pizza Sandwiches in Goldbucket's world would cost you only $8.99. Now: I went to theater school, but what that says to me is you are getting a $7 cooler and two 99 cent G.D.P.S.'s, right? So maybe (1) the price point is a little high there, and (2) when Lee tries to make a sale of 1000 G.D.P.S's to some crazy person out on the street and the guy offers you $2 per, you take that deal. But what do I know, right? Who wants to play some improv games?

What? You're saying this task did come down to price point? Well, I'll be. Synergy blew Goldwhatever (just merge already, I can't keep coming up with names) out of the water by increasing their 7-Eleven's sales by 997 percent. A 997 percent increase in store sales just by having vaguely telegenic dimwits mill around outside your franchise selling mutant sandwiches?? Yes, 7-Eleven is really cleaning up there in New York City; keep opening one store every five hours, boys! As a reward for their billionth straight win, Synergy got to fly to D.C. and meet the senior senator from New York State, Chuck Schumer. Not a bad reward, especially if you throw in the bit about Sean tearing up because he's finally an American and the White House is so very beautiful and etc. Not to mock anyone's personal journey, but dude, Sean, you're from England, not, like, Haiti. Get over it.

So poor Leslie had to go to the boardroom on her birthday. And she only took Lee back with her, and since Lee was the one person who thought the price point was too high — even though the boy honestly cannot stop talking, ever, not for one second — there was no way he was going home. Amazingly, Leslie handled her firing without shedding a single tear.

I wish I could say the same for myself. Somewhere around 10:45, I realized that there is a very good chance I will never be able to eat pizza or sandwiches ever again. Sniff. Can I get a pink throw pillow over here, please?

What do you think? Was Lenny really this dim all along? What was that guy planning to do with 1000 sandwiches? And should companies maybe think twice before allowing their products to be placed on this show?

Originally posted Apr 11, 2006
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