The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
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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

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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Business is Blooming - September 28

Martha narrates a recap of events from last week’s disaster [Kinda makes my job superfluous, don’tcha think?], so we get to hear her drone on for over two minutes before they even start the opening montage.

Happy black Lippizaner horses dance to the strains of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”. Then an acid-trip revue of paint samples and smiling photogenic people willing to debase themselves for the uber-bitch. [Ain’t America great?]

Establishing shot of the night-time Manhattan skyline…then we look down to see lots of tiny, ant-like people in tiny ant-like taxicabs [I’m pretty sure this is how Martha looks down on the hoi polloi from her office window].

Howie and Ryan discuss conference-room strategy: Ryan asks whether it’s better to take strong people into the conference-room with you and try to knock them out, or would you be scared that they might knock you out? Howie thinks you have to take the strong ones with you and play the game like there is no tomorrow. Then the door opens to reveal that Dawn and Jim have survived (and that Jeff got booted). Bethenny makes her best Valley Girl impression, with “Oh…my…God! [Gag me with Charles’ cigar.]” Jim gets a great big communal man-hug from Howie and Ryan, but asks that they refrain from kissing him.

Jim tells the camera (apparently the next day, because it’s daylight outside) that he returned with “the most obnoxious bravado I could muster”, and he is surely correct. This guy is totally getting on everybody’s nerves [including this recapper], and can’t keep his freakin’ pie-hole shut. He tells the rest of the crew that he told Martha that “everything that you found repugnant and unacceptable for children in this book was the tyrannical, undebatable, executive decision made by Jeff.” Shawn’s jaw just drops.

Jim continues his tirade: “I took the scythe, and the mighty oak stood before me, and I picked the scythe up and I cut it at the ankle, and it fell like a great timber. Later…Beyotch!” [Not only does this guy have serious anger management issues, but he is mixing his metaphors like nobody’s business. And he also apparently confuses scythes with axes. Idiot, please just die already.] Sarah tells it like it is, saying that Jim is unpredictable and mentally unstable. Jim keeps congratulating himself as the architect of Jeff’s defeat, although Dawn calls him out on this last claim, basically saying that Jim is a liar in front of all the rest. But this doesn’t stop Jim, oh no! He then states that he is the most cunning person on his team. [Yes, Jim, that’s it! You are a cunning linguist and a master debater.]

The next morning, Howie answers the telephone. Martha’s receptionist Julia tells them all to meet in front of the loft’s video screen at 0900. They all line up like good little Indians awaiting word from the chief. Martha greets them remotely from her favorite wholesale florist. She says she is looking for some new ideas for her website [Cheap plug!] Then, like she is teaching a kindergarten class, Martha asks, “Do you know the names of all these flowers?” [Reminds me of the scene in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”: Can you say ‘adobe’…? [No response] I knew you could!”] She especially likes the “chartreusy Euphorbia”; I ask you though, who wouldn’t like chartreusy Euphorbia? Here’s the next task.

Each team will get its own retail space and set up its own flower business. The team that earns the most revenue will win. The video feed is turned off, and the contestants inexplicably start to clap and cheer. [They must have caught on to the fact that Martha and her cronies will watch tapes of the contestants even when they aren’t physically present: something that the dudes on ‘Kept’ never figured out.]

On the Matchstick (touchy-feely) team, David suggests that Chuck would be best to pick out the flowers, apparently because Chuck is the only obviously gay man on the team. Chuck agrees to step up and be team leader because he has done freelance flower work in the past. He wants to do a simple Spring bloom, no fancy arrangements or anything that will take up a lot of their time. Chuck, Shawn, and David go down to the wholesale flower market to plan their product. They want to use only one kind of flower, and Shawn suggests tulips. Chuck drools over the lilacs on the way into the shop, but they make a deal to buy 2000 tulips flown in fresh from Holland the next morning.

Chuck calls to tell the others that they are going to sell fresh, bundled tulips. Jim argues from the other end that they shouldn’t buy the flowers yet. Jim wants to make 3 prototypes to sell to hotels and other businesses. Chuck tells him that such buyers already have deals nailed down and they won’t be interested. Chuck tries to cut in, but Jim won’t stop talking. Bethenny figures out that Jim is just crazy, and tries to get the phone from him, and they play a childish game of keep-away. Bethenny says to Jim, “No one wants to talk to you, because you are insane.” Shawn remarks that there appears to be something seriously wrong with her team, and Chuck interjects, “I am not happy.” David (who hasn’t contributed anything at all so far) continues to look like a brunette Napoleon Dynamite.

In an attempt to rip-off as much of the format as possible from Trump’s version of the show, Martha then makes some useless statements for the viewers about effective team leadership. It almost looks like she is using cue cards.

Chuck calls a team meeting. Dawn is upset about the lack of an overall plan of action. Shawn has called a costume shop and found some Dutchgirl costumes that she wants to use. Dawn pulls her hair into pigtails and says that “it’s so slutty and trashy that I love it.” [Must remind her of her pole-dancing days, when she was known as ‘Helga the Hump’.] Dawn thinks they should call the shop “Tiptoe Thru The Tulips”. Shawn thinks this diverts from the theme that the tulips are fresh from Holland [really?]. Then they really start to argue incoherently. Chuck can’t handle the pressure. He takes off his glasses and buries his face in his hands. So he makes his first executive decision: he decides to quit as project manager and leave the loft. They all seem truly surprised and all beg him to stay. Jim tells the camera that he wants Chuck to stay and is secretly happy about this, because Chuck’s weaknesses are potential weapons to use against him in future debates. [Because, you see, we have already established that Jim is a master debater.]

Dawn and Shawn are seen comforting Chuck. Chuck is amazingly flushed, as if he is embarrassed to be touched by two women. Shawn even gives him a quick kiss on his bald head. Apparently, this gives him the kick in the balls he needed, and he decides to stay. Then he starts making decisions and assigning tasks, which seems to please Dawn and Jim very much.

Meanwhile, Primarius (books & numbers) visits their retail space. Carrie is project manager, and she starts to delegate tasks. Jennifer explains to the camera that the area where they have the shop caters to the high-end, and their customers might want to meet a celebrity-florist. [Quick: name as many ‘celebrity-florists’ as you can! Did you come up with the same number as me? {Zero} I thought so.] She makes several cold calls, and eventually speaks to Rene Hofstede. This guy, I guess, is what she meant by ‘celebrity-florist’, because he has designed for “Sex and the City” and Oprah Winfrey. Rene shows up right away to the Primarius shop, and begins to nitpick; “I’ve never worked with you. I don’t have any references….It feels to me like a total fly-by-night operation.” [BINGO!!! Get that man a cigar!] He continues by saying that to sell high-end flowers you don’t give any discounts, and they all immediately agree that they won’t give any discounts. [We’ll see about that.] Carrie says that the flowers will celebrate Rene’s art, and Amanda says, “It’s a good thing.” [Oh no, where’s my puke bucket?] Amanda starts talking to the camera, but I have no idea what she said because her knitted shawl and beak-like nose make her look like some kind of freakish squawking bird. [BRAWWK! BRAWWK!] For reasons that are never explained, Rene agrees to work with them, and they all start cheering again. [Is he getting at least half the profits? If not, he’s a complete idiot. The only thing that makes any sense to me about why he would work with obvious amateurs, in an obvious ‘fly-by-night’ venture, is for face-time on TV.] Carrie explains that the corporate team figured out that when you don’t know how to do something, you outsource it. [But don’t you typically outsource to India?]

Dawn, Bethenny, and Marcela (who has also done nothing notable yet) from the Matchstick team decide to start marketing their company. They put on their little black dresses and literally start walking the streets. Bethenny says they “looked hot” and they were going to talk to guys about their tulip shop opening the next day. At this point, even they figure out that their venture seems very similar to soliciting for sex. Bethenny and Dawn accost some guy in his car, and to his credit he begs off even after they invite him for a private tour of the shop. [Now I have the title song from “Little Shop of Horrors” running through my head. Wasn’t that set in a flower shop too?]

Chuck, Shawn, and Jim check out their shop to do some decorating. Jim instantly gets fixated on polishing the brass hardware on the door. “We need Brasso. We’re gonna get Brasso.” Jim and Shawn paint and staple their hearts out, when the slut-crew arrives. Jim and Dawn start arguing over the price of Brasso ($6 says Jim at first, then later he says $4) and whether this is a good use of resources. Jim’s overeager arguments basically drive Dawn and her crew out of the shop, and Jim says to her, “I’ll see you in the conference room tomorrow!” Dawn is upset at how Jim treats her after she has whored herself so hard, and says “This is the most despicable day of my life.” [Hey Dawn, what about that day made that video for some coke and a Burger King gift certificate?] Chuck ends the day expecting that Martha will think their project is a disaster. [There are some pretty good predictions going on here on Team Matchstick.]

Next morning at the Primarius store:
They all scramble to get the store set up and running. They had a poster made that reads, “EXCLUSIVE ONE-DAY SPECIAL EVENT, Rene Holstede, ‘Sex in the City’ Celebrity Florist,” but the type-font is really much too small to read from the street. All the team members are dressed only in black, and they wait, and wait, and wait for the customers. They manage to get a few people into the shop, but sticker-shock ensues. They are selling relatively small arrangements for $110, $45, and $150, etc. Howie realizes that their customers are just coming in off the street, not expecting to buy anything before they got there, and the prices are just too damned high. Carrie still is a believer in the high price-points, and thinks they just need one or two big orders to win.

The Matchstick store is selling bunches of tulips for $15 each, and they are getting much more interest from their customers. They hired three models to wear Dutch outfits and “canvass” the neighborhood. However, these models hang out a bit too far from the store and can’t impart the necessary information to passersby. Charles and Alexis (the faux-George and faux-Caroline) comment, “I think the girls are on the wrong corner. That depends on what they’re selling. True.” Someone wants to buy some flowers for only $10, but they insist on $15. One customer makes a large buy from Dawn ($150?) and they agree to deliver the order. Dawn is so happy that she says, “If I ever see him again I’m gonna make out with him for 3 hours.” [OK. Now we know Dawn’s fee schedule for sexual favors.] Charles strolls in and says that the store looks great. He remarks that the two teams appear to be using very different sales strategies, with Matchstick going for volume and Primarius going with a higher price-point [in case you haven’t been paying attention].

At Primarius, Howie confronts Carrie about the high prices. Carrie counters by saying that they have to keep their agreement with Rene for the higher price-point. Howie then goes directly to Rene and says that they get about one buyer out of 20 who come into the store. Carrie tentatively enters the conversation and now agrees with Howie, because they have to start moving some product. Rene suggests that they keep the listed prices as before, but be willing to give each customer an unadvertised “discount” [in direct opposition to his stance the day before]. So now Sarah says to a customer, “The little arrangements are about $30 apiece. They were $45 this morning,” and they get sale after sale after sale. Howie’s approach is, “Let’s work backwards. How much do you want to spend?,” and he even starts making offers like an auctioneer, “Two for forty, two for forty!”

Conference Room Time:
Martha asks Charles how Primarius did on the task. He says he was quite impressed, and they did $1886 in sales. Martha then gives the nod to Alexis to talk about Matchstick. Alexis says that Matchstick took the other approach and tried to sell a higher volume of a lower cost flower, but that they brought in only $969. Martha congratulates Primarius, and tells them that their reward is to help create a garden for a community-center in Chelsea. [Because ‘it is better to give than to receive’. I can hardly wait for the contestants to say how this task was so much better than any tangible reward. I call “Bullshit” on that; give me the jewelry store visit that the Apprentices got on Trump’s show any day of the week.] Martha then continues with, “Matchstick, you lose, yet again.”

To make a long story short: Primarius helps some kids with the garden, and they all say that it was better than getting any other reward. [I was happily surprised that they didn’t dig up any bodies.] Sarah thinks that Martha was trying to teach them that “rewards are not all about taking, sometimes rewards are about giving. She does a lot of community service herself [about 5 months’ worth, if I recall correctly] and she wanted to give us the same experience.” [I wonder what the lesson is for the poor kids who live there. Is it supposed to be that eventually rich people will swoop in and give you what you need?]

At Matchstick, Jim tells a collected group that Dawn “is a virus…Matchstick has a deadly virus and it needs to be cured….She’s a roadblock on the way to our success.” [Jim, now you are confusing these ‘reality’ shows. Roadblocks are in The Amazing Race.] Meanwhile, Dawn is in the next room and can hear everything. Jim tells everyone to support Chuck, so that he can get the other strong people out. [Jim can’t see the obvious inconsistency in saying first that Dawn is weak, and then that she is strong. But it doesn’t matter to him. He just keeps talking and talking and talking, hoping that verbosity can beat down any resistance. And the verbosity seems to at least be causing Jim to become hoarse. With any luck, he won’t be able to croak out loud for much longer.] Chuck comes into the room and Jim immediately hovers over to offer him some water and compliment him on his jacket. [It’s so obvious that he’s sucking up, but I don’t think Jim realizes how transparent this is. But, again, he’s not going for subtlety; he’s hoping that he can be so overbearing that no one will fight him about anything.] Marcela watches as Jim tries to bully Chuck into getting rid of Dawn; she comments to the camera that Jim likes gratuitous cruelty. Jim wants to prevent Chuck from quitting by saying “You are brilliant, you are beautiful. You’ve got design acumen…the way you moved in that store yesterday was brilliant.” [Is he coming on to Chuck? Yes, I think he is.] Chuck tells the camera that he has mixed-emotions about Jim’s support, and he will have to consider what it means. As Chuck leaves the room, Jim croaks out an “I love you!” [WTF is going on here!] And then he does it again, “I love you.”

Upon entering the conference room and being asked “How are you?,” Chuck says “We’ve been here on better circumstances.” Martha asks Marcela what went wrong. Marcela says it was a lack of delegation and communication. Martha asks whose fault that was, and Chuck says it was his fault. Chuck thinks that because they have billed themselves as creative people, they all take on too many tasks. Jim smirks and shakes his head in denial. Charles pulls out another unlit cigar/phallic symbol and sticks it in his mouth. Martha heard from Alexis that the shop looked cute, but that the creativity stopped there. She thinks the Dutchgirl models were a terrible idea, and wonders why they even considered it. Shawn and Bethenny tell Martha that they were going with a Dutch theme, to which Martha angrily responds by asking, “Were all the tulips grown in Holland?,” expecting (but failing) to catch them in a logic trap. Bethenny, however, unwittingly saves Martha some face by blurting out, “What else does Holland even have?,” allowing Martha to berate her for insulting an entire country like that. Martha should have left it alone at that point, because the only other Dutch offerings to civilization that she uses as examples are “Vermeers and Van Goghs”. Alexis didn’t like that the models weren’t actually providing any helpful information to passersby, and Jim loudly mutters “Oh, it was so ridiculous. They were just set loose like dogs,” trying to wash his hands of any wrongdoing. Martha summed it up by saying it was real tacky.

Martha asked Chuck what he did. He says he “made some timelines and had a nervous breakdown.” Jim says “No,” being unable to ever keep his mouth shut. Chuck tries to take responsibility for the failure, and Jim says, “That’s ridiculous. I take that as a deep, personal, wounding insult that you would say that, Chuck.” Jim says that it is flagrant disrespect for a team that rallied around him, and how dare he resign. [Once again, don’t look for any logic to anything Jim says.] Martha asks if this means Chuck is resigning, and he says that he isn’t. Charles asks Jim who is responsible then for the team losing. Jim responds by saying, “There is a charlatan amongst us, [Yeah, Jim, it’s you.] and it’s Dawn.” Dawn then reads a list of contributions she made to the team, and Jim makes snarky comments throughout her entire list. Martha says, “Jim, it seems like you have an agenda.” He responds by saying that his agenda is to save his team, “and the weakest link is dragging us like an anchor [once again with the improperly mixed metaphors], we are drowning because this one person who at every step is a roadblock…like a vizier into the project manager’s ear and just poisons him.” [So, Jim, you are suggesting that a vizier’s advice is always necessarily poison? And this expression is derived from Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ perhaps?] Dawn smiles because she can’t believe how crazy Jim is acting. Martha asks Chuck to pick two people to come back with him into the conference room. He chooses Jim and Dawn. Before they leave, Shawn asks Martha if she has any advice for them. She says that she can’t help them get along, but that they need to each decide what they can do very well and contribute that to the team. “You can’t whine, you can’t kvetch, and you can’t complain [Looks like someone uses their thesaurus]…and you can’t quit. Quitters? Forget it! [She actually raises her voice here, so this must really piss her off.] If I hear the word ‘quit’ from this team once more…, I mean that’s crazy!” Jim immediately echoes with, “That’s insane.” [It’s just like Anwar from ‘Kept’, where he would echo other people’s last two words as a sign that he heard and acknowledged their remarks, and agrees with them implicitly. Jim, you are a crazy freak!] Bethenny tries the same tack by saying she is so embarrassed of her team she is about to cry. Martha cuts back by saying that women in business can’t cry, and that she’d be out of here if she did. [That’s strike two for you, Bethenny. Why don’t you just shut up.]

Martha, Charles, and Alexis have an extremely brief chat. They recognize that Jim obviously has an agenda against Dawn, but they don’t know why. They think Matchstick needs to find a leader who can actually lead them effectively in the right direction. She asks Julia to send the three candidates back in.

Martha asks Dawn why she should stay. Dawn says that she makes a lot of contributions, and if the others can’t see it then they have to take their blinders off. Charles asks Jim why he keeps shaking his head (in denial of Dawn’s remarks), and he says that Dawn if fraudulent. Charles wants to know what Jim’s deal with Dawn is about. Dawn says that it’s personal, but Jim says that it’s not personal but simply that Dawn can’t do anything. Chuck stupidly then asks for the gunsights to be trained on him instead by saying the whole project was pathetic. He says, “I may not have the skill-set to manage people.” Jim looks extremely angry that Chuck is allowing any pressure off of Dawn. Alexis asks why Chuck picked Jim to return to the conference room. Chuck explains that the greatest conflict on the team is between Jim and Dawn, and he hoped that getting either one of them off would improve team dynamics [Very true]. The point is moot, however, because Martha hates quitters. She even says that she made the best out of going to jail, rather than whining and crying, and that a dysfunctional team has to do the best it can. They need a leader, not someone who can’t be a leader during their one chance to shine. Chuck, you are the weakest link…Goodbye!

Charles, being the ultimate Yes-Man, tells Martha that she made the correct and obvious decision. Martha says Chuck was creative, but not executive material. Alexis sits mutely, wondering why they didn’t cast any bull-dykes for the show. Chuck takes his walk-of-shame, as Martha writes to him that “there was no team-work and little leadership” in evidence.

Next Week:
“Martha’s Apprentice is no piece of cake” as the candidates have to make an original wedding cake. Is this a recipe for disaster? Donald Trump and his now preggers wife Maleficent make an appearance. Martha makes her own rules.

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