TV Article

The Fix Is In

Here's advice for struggling shows ''Jack & Bobby,'' ''The Apprentice,'' ''Listen Up,'' and ''Joan of Arcadia''

The Apprentice (Season 2)
The Apprentice (Season 2)

The Apprentice

(NBC, Thursdays, 9 p.m.)

How to fix ''The Apprentice''

Problem Last season we loved watching self-absorbed maniacs make fools of themselves on The Apprentice. But this season there's something we don't love — the actual contestants. We're also burned out on tasks that double as infomercials for big corporations.

Evidence Rule of thumb: The more NBC hypes a boardroom, the more boring it is. With no one to root for, there's little joy in seeing, say, mealymouthed Ivana spared. And the first five challenges this season were flog-athons for brand names (Mattel, QVC, Crest, etc.) — which is more exhausting than entertaining. Maybe that's why the show has lost 5 million viewers from last season.

In its defense Exec producer Mark Burnett says he's in a bit of a casting bind: ''You can't cast a Goody Two-shoes in a show where they're fighting for Trump's favor. They would get eaten alive.'' And as for the Crest stunt, he gushes, ''That episode resulted in Procter & Gamble's biggest product launch ever!'' Yippee.

Solution Limit the product placement to one episode a month, tops. Stop relying on unstable hotheads and find the aggressive yet appealing candidates (think Survivor's Rupert or The Amazing Race's Charla) we all know exist. As Carolyn herself would say — just fix it. —Dalton Ross

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