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Sixteen men and women have been chosen by the queen of good things for a 12-week job interview, in which only one can be named president of one of his companies.

Who will Martha Stewart choose as his next Apprentice? Keep track at the Portfolio.

Recaps by Julie Suchard, GSNN


FACT FILE:
Host: Martha Stewart
Assistants: Charles Koppelman and Alexis Stewart
Creator: Mark Burnett (based upon "The Apprentice")
EP: Mark Burnett, Donald Trump, Jay Bienstock
Packager: Mark Burnett Productions, Trump Productions
Airs: Wednesdays at 9:00pm ET on NBC


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Once Upon A Time... - September 20

Once more into the breach… Wm. Shakespeare, “Henry V”

New-age “happy”-music plays as the camera pans over rich farmland, split-rail fences, and happy black horses frolicking in their paddock. [I read in Vanity Fair that the horses aren’t allowed out in the paddock when the sun is shining because Martha doesn’t want their hair to change from black because it will upset her black and gray color scheme.] All is well with the world…Until Martha Stewart’s droning monotone interrupts the idyllic scene.

[This lady has virtually no vocal inflection. She sounds the same no matter what her mood, or what she is talking about. I doubt it even changes when she is having sex: “That is the correct method. Please continue with that technique for the time being. Yes, I have come. It’s a good thing.”]

“There is no place like home. And for me, it provided the inspiration for my entire business empire.” [Well, she certainly isn’t lacking in self-esteem or ego.] Martha, dressed in a sedate gray suit and black top, walks towards the camera reciting a prepared speech about how great she is, and how her company is now “one of the most prestigious and well-known brands.”

Then we cut to establishing shots of Manhattan, and Martha smiling in front of the paparazzi, as she continues giving her verbal curriculum vitae. 1982: she writes her first book, “Entertaining”. Then more books. Then she signs with K-Mart in 1987 to be their spokesperson and lifestyle expert. [So, wait a minute here. She’s proud to be associated with the least common denominator of retailing?]

Then she’s riding on a private Lear jet and jabbering on her cell-phone, “Making a good impression is critical. Remember that.” [She is looking more and more like Cybill Shepherd (who depicted Martha in a made-for-TV movie that is constantly advertised during the commercial breaks), but not in a good way.] In 1990 she made a deal with Time-Warner to publish her magazine, Martha Stewart Living. [By the way, you might want to check out the parody publication, “Is Martha Stewart Living”, available at bookstores everywhere. I have read in an interview that Martha read the parody and said that she could have done a better job putting it together.]

Next came the daytime TV shows. Then she stepped out on her own, borrowing $85 million and buying back control of her magazine. In 1997, her company went public on the NYSE, making her the first American female self-made billionaire. As she steps into her gas-guzzling Chevy Suburban Marthamobile [tactfully color-coordinated to her suit and horses], she smirks and says; “It felt really good.”

“The path to success has not always been easy.” Then she briefly mentions her run-in with the law, without giving any details, and says she has learned from her experiences and never lost her optimism. “I surround myself with creative, hard-working colleagues. Now, I want to add to my chain. I’m looking for someone with big creative ideas, possibly even one big idea. I’m looking for a team player, because that’s the way we work here. I’m looking for THE APPRENTICE.” [Umm…it’s on TV on Thursdays and features Donald Trump. You know the guy who is co-producing this show. Whoa! Too self-referential for me.]

Martha parades through her cube-farm office, stopping intermittently to pretend she gives a shit about what her underlings think. The “candidates” for this show, as she calls them, will also live on the same floor of this office building. The 16 candidates will live together in this loft for 13 weeks, and we’ll get to see what happens when people start getting real and stop being polite. [Yet again, too much internally-referential stuff going on between all these ‘reality’ shows.]

The candidates start to arrive with their rolling luggage. [The receptionist, Julia, looks alarmingly similar to SuperNanny Jo Frost, and has an English accent as well.] Shawn is the first to arrive; she is a 32-year-old TV newscaster in Orlando, FL [http://www.local6.com/news/1227165/detail.html]. Several more arrive, but are not yet introduced. Howie Greenspan, 33, a fashion company owner, is the next to get some individual face-time. He says that he is very similar to Martha, except that she’s rich. Bethenny Frankel, 34, is a natural foods chef. She says that she fits in with Martha Stewart [maybe it was all that jail-time they shared].

My god! It’s already been 5 minutes, and they finally start the theme-music. It’s “Sweet Dreams [Are Made of This]” by the Eurythmics, but they tweak it, decreasing my enjoyment by a considerable margin. The teams are introduced [even though they haven’t picked teams yet on the show]: Cue Martha looking longingly at her big black horse.

Primarius –
Carrie, 31, owns a PR company in San Diego
Jennifer, 32, a prosecutor from Orange County, CA
Ryan, 28, works for daddy’s employment agency, and wants to be a lawyer
Amanda, 30, attorney for Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs
Howie, 33, Fashion Company owner
Sarah, 25, championship coxswain at the University of Virginia, who presently works as an Event planner
Leslie, 36, Marketing Company owner, named one of 100 Most influential Hispanic Women
Dawna, 37, is the founder and publisher of "Her Sports" magazine, a national women's sports magazine

Matchstick –
Shawn, 32, TV Newscaster
Jim, 36 Ad Executive
Dawn, 33, PR Consultant
Chuck, 38, Interior Decorator Firm Owner
David, 22, Internet company owner
Bethenny, 34, Natural Foods Chef,
Jeff, 42, is both owner and creative director of Strychnine Design, a graphic design and consulting firm in New York City
Marcela, 27, Cooking instructor, hometown Tijuana, Mexico

The logo for The Apprentice Martha Stewart has the familiar businessperson with a briefcase, but unlike Donald Trump’s version, it’s a woman in a skirt. Also Martha is SMILING, yes actually SMILING [she must be thinking about the big black horses.]

Martha comes into and directs the candidates. Immediately one notices that this will be a more egalitarian Apprentice, rather than Ms. Stewart this and Ms. Stewart that, everyone calls Martha, Martha. Martha welcomes everyone to her company. Beside her are her daughter Alexis and Charles Koppleman, Chairman of the Board, and they will be Martha’s eyes and ears. But Martha says that she will make the ultimate decision about who stays and who goes.

Alexis says that she is there because she knows her mom better than anyone. She says that she was the original Apprentice and hasn’t been fired yet.

Charles spent his early career in the music business. He built and created the world’s largest independent music publishing company. He joined Martha a year ago and they have had a great time ever since. Charles then reveals that he knows contestant Bethenny. Bethenny and Charles say that each didn’t know that the other person would be on the show. Charles goes on to say that Bethenny dated his son and he has known her for 15 years. [Charles is holding a large, rather phallic looking cigar in his hand…it’s unlit.]

Martha says that there are many things to learn at Martha Stewart Omnimedia. Martha is looking for somebody who will take a job in some aspect of the company and work with Martha very closely to create something new and something different. Martha goes on to say that her offices do not have a boardroom. Meetings are held in various conference rooms. The specific conference room they are in will be the conference room from which Martha will be asking people to leave.

Martha wants people to have fun and succeed. Carrie says that meeting Martha is the culmination of everything that she is and everything that she has been up to this point in her life. Working for Martha is like a dream come true.

The candidates go see their living quarters, which are housed in the Martha Stewart Omnimedia headquarters. Champagne, fruit and cheese are waiting for the candidates and a toast is proposed to “All Good Things.” Martha has a left a message “I am very pleased to welcome you as candidates. I hope that you have a very good time competing, whatever the ultimate outcome. As the first order of business I would like you to divide yourselves into two teams of eight. Find something that each team has in common, the first task begins tomorrow. Enjoy and let the games begin. Martha Stewart.”

But first, everyone wants to know about Bethenny’s relationship with Charles. Bethenny says that she lived in Paris with Charles’ daughter. Then she dated his son. [I am guessing that Charles has seen her naked at least once, most of the other people in his family have…]

Leslie says that it was obvious that half of the group were corporate types while the other half were artist types, so the group divides along this line. Jeff says that it’s obvious that there are some people on his team that need to be baby-sat. The teams come up with names.

The creative types are team Matchstick. Dawn immediate dislikes Jim because he says inappropriate things at inappropriate times. Jim confesses “I’ve always had a problem with people who want to control my actions. You don’t control my actions. I control your actions. Get it right.”

The next morning the phone rings. Marcella answers. It’s Martha who is working at home [with an attractive ankle bracelet]. She tells the teams to meet her in the lobby of Random House Publishing
At 8:00 and she doesn’t want them to be late.

Martha, Charles and Alexis are at Random House quizzing editors Chip Gibbs and Anne Schwartz. Martha asks, “What makes a children’s book a success?” Anne replies, “It’s a marriage of words and pictures. A new way of looking at the world. Martha wants to encourage young children to read and learn.”

The teams stand in two groups. Jeff is the head of Team Matchstick, the creative types. They say that the name means that they are the start of something big. Martha says that she likes the name.

Dawna is the leader of the other group, the corporate types. They want to be first and the best so they name themselves Primarius. Martha doesn’t seem as thrilled with this name.

Martha introduces Chip and Anne to the candidates and says that they will be the bosses during this task. Each team will have the job of adapting an established well-known fairy tale and making it pertinent to today’s children. Martha says that the goal of this task is for people to learn how to connect with their audience, not only connecting with children, but also with their parents. Martha says that she and Alexis read children’s books. Martha says she is still hoping for grandchildren (as Alexis grimaces).

Each team will have access to a designer and an illustrator. At the end of the project, the teams will have a children’s book to read to a group of first graders. Chip and Anne will tell Martha which book is the winner of the competition. The winning team will be celebrated and the loosing team will be sent to the conference room where somebody will be asked to go home.

Martha says that it’s important for business executives to know the importance of connecting with the customer. Whether that customer is a leader, a television viewer, a consumer of retail products, making the connection with the customer is essential to that business.

In the Rudyard Kipling room of Random House, Primarius develops an action plan. Carrie comes up with the idea of adapting “Jack and the Beanstalk” she says that the fantasy element will appeal to the kids who like “Harry Potter.” Leslie comes up with the idea of telling the story underwater.

Dawna thought that the group would be more respectful, but everyone talks at one. She had to find a way to get them under control so she decides to split the group into two. One group will find people off the street to be a pre-focus group focus group, while the other half finishes the book. Dawna says that the most important thing is that the kids love the book.

Team Matchstick works in the “Dr. Seuss Room.” Jeff decides to adapt “Hansel and Gretel” in an urban setting. He says that the story is all about running away and the city is a scary place to run away. Everyone agrees that Dawn would be the best person to write the book since she comes from a background of literature and publishing. Dawn asks the group to respect her personal space while she is writing.

Jim says that it was a shock when Dawn said that she need quiet to concentrate, he has never worked with anyone who needed absolute quiet to create. As the group works on the book, they ignore Dawn’s plea for silence and grow increasingly noisy. Dawn is exasperated and frequently grimaces.

Jeff says that Dawn doesn’t like the noise and chaos and really can’t do the work. Jeff decides to “marginalize her completely.” His background as an Interior Designer makes him an ideal candidate to write a children’s story, so he will write the book instead of Dawn.

Primarius does a great job finding kids off the street to listen to their story. The kids loved the story and especially enjoyed hearing Howie read the story. Amanda says that she would never have learned to change certain aspects of the story if it hadn’t been for the kids.

Being in the Dr. Seuss room has rubbed off on Team Matchstick. They decide do their story in rhyme. As Jeff reads the story, his team members listen to the awful rhymes with barely disguised contempt. Dawn questions the story “what message will it give to the kids, if you don’t like your name, you won’t have to listen to your parents?” Marcela and Jim warn Jeff that the story is too dark, but does he listen. No. Jeff tells the group “Shut up now and listen” which offends many. Jim says that nobody is happy with the executive decisions that Jeff makes. Jeff says “I could spend 10 more hours working on this [the story], but this makes me happy, this floats my boat.” At this point, his is the only boat floating.

Matchstick looks at their mockup. Jeff decides that Dawn will be reading to the children and he wants to see how she will do. She asks if she can go get a banana before she reads and the team freaks out. Bethenny is appalled by Dawn’s need to have a banana and says that Dawn’s lack of urgency towards the group was disrespectful. After “Bananagate” dies down, Dawn tells Jeff that she wants to sit down on the floor to read do the kids.

Jeff says, “We do not need you to be a likeable person to the kids. We need you to be a powerful presenter to the executives.” Dawn says that they are not on the same page. She says that if she were a kid, she would be terrified if somebody came into a room and read her a story standing up and staring down at her. They argue some more. Dawn says, “If details like that matter, then I would like to hear from everybody to see what they think.” Jeff says “At this point I am the project manager and I am…” Dawn mockingly bows “tell me what you want me to do and I will do it, do you want to pick out my wardrobe too?” Jeff has enough contempt and tells Dawn to step down. Shawn is elected to become the new story reader.

Jeff decides to take a shower, Dawn says “You are a team player and this is good for the team?”
Jeff retorts “if you don’t see that this is good for the team, then you are not playing for the team. I am not engaging you; I don’t care what you think. Stop engaging me. If you want to join me in the shower, you may (as Dawn grimaces), but I will be naked. I am not kidding. “ Dawn says, “ I am trying…” Jeff says “I don’t care what you are trying, you are failing.”

The children are gathered in a story room to listen to the stories. Amanda reads first, “Hansel and Gretel were their names, but their names were uncool and their moms were to blame. Let’s go to the playground, let’s go alone, she won’t even notice if we are not at home…” Chuck says “the children were engaged, but they weren’t roaring with laughter.” We didn’t reach the children the way that we anticipated we would.
The focus group leader asks the kids who liked the story. About 80% unenthusiastically raised their hands.

Primarius has Howie read their story. One of the little girls flirts with Howie “I like your hair.” Howie reads Primarius’ “Jack and the Beanstalk” story. The kids are engaged and interact with Howie as he reads the story. The story was written in first person and the kids seemed to suspend belief and believe the Howie was Jack. All of the kids love the Primarius team's book.

In the conference room Martha asks the publishers about the books. Anne says that Matchstick did a great job with the illustrations. Anne doesn’t like the rhyme scheme of the book and says that the rhyme feels forced. Chip says that the danger of retelling a story that is known to a wide audience is that you have to be creative and different. He says that Primarius was creative, instead of having the beanstalk go up, it goes down into the ocean. Also he likes the fact that the book is in first person and thinks that the illustrations and endpapers are beautiful.

The winner is Primarius. For their reward, Martha invites them to a sushi dinner cooked by her friend who is a cook and owner at Matsuri. Even while eating, Martha can’t help but lecture and manage “that’s fresh wasabi, it grows under running water. It’s so beautiful to go to a wasabi farm.” Martha and Howie do a little bit of flirting. Martha says “I heard that Howie did a great reading, I would love to hear you read.” Howie says that he loved the chance to catch Martha’s eye. He says, “ I could possibly be falling in love with Martha Stewart, but let’s keep that low.”

At the loft, Jeff tries to turn his teammates against Dawn. Jim speaks strategically to Bethany. He wants to vote out Jim because he is a strong player and Dawn is such a weak link that she can be voted out at any time. Bethenny doesn’t like this approach, tells Jim, then stalks off.

Jim confesses “the reason we failed is that Jeff took on too much. If he doesn’t go up again, I will never get him off this team. He screwed up so he’s gone. In the business world, this is the best thing to happen to me. This game rocks! This is exactly who I am. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. What could possibly be better? We need some sacrificial lambs”

Dawn says, “Jeff will go into the conference room with guns blazing and will be in for a big surprise. He is the person solely responsible for the failure of the task.” Jeff says “ If it comes down to me and Dawn in the conference room, if I can’t whoop her ass, then I deserve to go home and hang my head in shame.”

In the conference room, Martha tries to look stern, but just looks smug. Alexis smiles, as does Charles.
Martha says that Matchbook is the creative team, but she found some things as a parent that she just couldn’t understand. Charles says, “What were you thinking.” Marcela said that she always had problems with the content of the story. Alexis says that the story is too complicated for children. Martha wants to know if Dawn wrote the book and Dawn says that she didn’t. Martha said that she doesn’t like the story.

Martha wants people to name names. Marcela blames Dawn. David blames Dawn but says that she wasn’t given “creative space to write.” Chuck dislikes Jim. Bethenny says that Dawn is very negative. Dawn tries to defend herself, but Jeff says that it’s all Dawn’s fault. Jim says that Jeff took on too much responsibility. Jeff decides to bring Dawn and Jim to the conference room.

Charles says that Jeff didn’t organize the group while Alexis says that Dawn causes too much conflict. Martha calls the three back into the conference room. Martha wants to know why Jeff chose Dawn and Jim. Jeff says that Jim was a bundle of destructive energy. Dawn defends Jim and says that Jim’s contribution; the design of the book was impeccable. Jim says “everything Martha Stewart did not like about his project was Jeff’s fault.” Dawn says that the team followed Jim to their demise “publishing is a business, we are here to make money by selling books to kids that the will like.”

Martha says that at her company they need editors who care about quality and designers who care about beauty. The reason why Martha’s company has been so successful is that they connect with the consumer, are trustworthy and messages that appeal. Martha says, “Jeff you didn’t hear me when I said that you need to connect. The message was off and Jeff it was your message. I don’t think that you even connect with your own co-workers. So Jeffrey…

“You just don’t fit in. Good-bye.”

Jim whispers in the lobby, “Sorry Jeff, it’s just business.” Jeff says, “I will look for your failing, next week, I am sure.”

Martha being Martha decides that the proper way to send Jeffrey off is to send him a personal good-bye note. Read it here: http://nbc.com/The_Apprentice:_Martha_Stewart/letters/index.shtml.

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