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Donald toys with 18 new victims as ''The Apprentice'' opens a second season of corporate plugs, breakdowns, and boardroom brawls

Donald Trump | THE ART OF THE COMB-BACK Trump is ready to sack the suck-ups
THE ART OF THE COMB-BACK Trump is ready to sack the suck-ups

''The Apprentice 2'': Donald toys with 18 new victims

The sky's the limit, kids: It is my great pleasure to announce that The Apprentice is back, and luckily for the leaky rowboat that is NBC, it's still one of the greatest reality shows in the history of the world.

Let's get right down to it. Last night, various poster children for Type A personality disorder met, glowered at each other, got really drunk while chugging champagne straight from the bottle, and faced their first challenge in the quest for money-money-money monnnnney. It's boys against girls again -- the ladies of Apex versus the men of (ouch) Mosaic -- but this time, the liquored-up teams had to Red Rover one person over to the other side from the get-go, and then that lucky fool had to be the Project Manager for a Toys ''R'' Us-Mattel commercial. Oh, excuse me: it was a toy-designing competition, right, right. Whatever.

So who are our 18 new friends? I’m not sure. There's something a bit off here. It's like the exact opposite of the series' lead-in, Joey, where we've got a beloved character in a new setting. The Apprentice II: Secret of the Schmooze takes the old setting and fills it with a bunch of barely distinguishable strangers. Honestly, I can identify only about ten of them:

Andy After stating he wanted to hit someone in the back of the head with a shovel, he confessed to being a nationally ranked debater. I can't help thinking this undermines any threat of physical violence on his part.

Raj Gets bonus points for making a Stalin reference within the first 15 minutes, but I can't quite figure out his strategy. He seems to be playing the hypernerd Sam card, but he also seems to be playing the pimp card, and he and his cane make me very nervous. All that aside: best seemingly pantsless confessional ever.

Maria Hey, Dragon Lady. I hate to judge someone on her haircut, but if she were any more severe, Donald could hire her face out to cut granite.

Stacie J. She's a former model, and now she owns a Subway sandwich shop in the Bronx. This is very admirable. But tragically, our friends in NBC casting have made sure that the token black woman also happens to be nuts. Sure, maniacally shaking a Magic 8 Ball isn't the same as pulling an Omarosa, but it's close, and if the scenes from next week are any indication, she'll be on Oprah in no time.

That One Black Guy Did he talk? Like, ever?

Jennifer C. I am going to resist the temptation to point out the fact that there are so many Jennifers and Stacies on the show that they require initials and instead mention that this Jennifer is a dead ringer for last season's Jessie. Judgment will be withheld until we see her reaction to pigeons.

That One 12-Year-Old-Looking Girl I didn't know NBC had picked up American Juniors. I dunno. I kept waiting for her to, like, tap-dance or something.

Pamela ''Boys! Take off your neckties!'' you spat at your team of men, whilst retaining your ri-don-culous scarf. I appreciate your attempts to soften your decidedly East German edge by wearing nothing but pink, but the only thing better than Raj's Stalin reference was when you said you could feel your penis getting larger! Congrats!

Bradford Not only was he an impressive Project Manager, but I'm telling you, I'm going to be saying, ''Throw your nuts on the table!'' all week. I love that. It's my new thing. This Man's Man helped the ladies avoid designing an Easy-Bake Oven for boys (dear God) and instead came up with the winning remote-controlled car. Additionally, he bore up well under their required TRL-style victory shrieking.

So, if you're keeping score at home, it's Bra-fords 1, Pamendelas 0. Which brings us to . . .

Rob He was a ''Corporate Branding Salesman.'' I don't know what that is. Personally, from the moment he brought up eels, I knew he was doomed. And sure enough, after saying ''underutilized'' a grand total of 57 times, Corporate Branding found itself in a cab headed home.

I am okay with this decision. Frankly, I appreciated the way the producers really let me get to know Rob before firing him, and I like that there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of slightly doughy white men left for me to meet and greet and most likely despise over the months to come. In fact, if anything, the anonymity of 40 percent of the cast just makes me want to tune in next week (oh, that, and the promise of the Best. Boardroom. Ever.) to see if one of them develops anything resembling a personality.

But many burning questions remain unanswered after this season premiere: Who will initiate the first unnecessary catfight? Will they be able to drum up a decent showmance? Is Donald's hair brushed forwards or backwards? (Seriously, it's like an infinity pool now, like a furry Mobius strip with no beginning or end, just flow.) And will Big D ever find a hand gesture to trump the Cobra? Stay tuned, loyal viewers -- for the love of God, please stay tuned. Do not be distracted by the pretty shows on the other networks, for this is all NBC has. You wouldn't kick a man while he’s down . . . would you? Carolyn?

What did you think? After the premiere, are you fired up?

Originally posted Sep 10, 2004
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