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The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
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Today is

The Empire Strikes Back - December 14

[Did they pay licensing fees to Lucas to use this title?]

The show starts with a quick recap of how badly Ryan f(^_^)ed up the in-flight commercial for Song, getting both his and Marcela’s butts booted off the show. Flashback to a previous reward dinner, where Jim states, “I am like a super-villain. I’m really, really good at being the bad guy. It is a game.” [Will these words come back to haunt him? This, and many other questions, will be answered tonight…on…the non-renewed, pathetic attempt to expand The Apprentice empire.]

Establishing shot of the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset: Bethenny and Dawna look tired, and start to bitch about how long they have been waiting to see if Ryan or Marcela will return to the loft. Cut to the door: It isn’t opening. Cut to Jim: He’s sleeping. Cut to a clock: It’s ticking away the moments of our lives, like an eternal death-knell sounding our doom. Cut to another clock, and another clock, etc. ad nauseum. By midnight, Dawna still thinks that Ryan and Marcela have been in the conference room for three hours. Bethenny stuffs her face in a mute reply. Jim shambles into the room, and immediately figures it out: No one is coming back, he says. Bethenny says, “Wow! Is that possible?”, apparently forgetting the episode just a couple of weeks back where two people were simultaneously let go.

In the morning, Martha calls the loft and Bethenny picks up the phone. Martha tells them that they have to meet her at her Connecticut offices, they have to wear business suits, and they need to be prepared for a long and interesting day. So they all hop into a van and head east, snacking on breakfast items along the way. Dawna is in a sleeveless shirt, while Bethenny has on a halter top: doesn’t seem very business-like to me. [I suppose they’ll put on blazers later.]

The candidates all enter a room where Martha is small-talking with four of her executives. Martha notes that between Dawna, Bethenny, and Jim, they have a record as Project Managers of 6 wins to 1 loss. However, now there are no more teams, and they are each on their own. She introduces the four executives from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. They are:

1) Susan Lyne, President and CEO of MSLO (they ate dinner with her before [see above, for Jim’s faux pas]),
2) Jonathan Chernes, Senior Vice-President of Retail Merchandising,
3) Gael [That isn’t a first-name, it’s a tribal affiliation] Towey, Chief Creative Officer and an old crony of Martha’s,
4) Margaret Roach, Editorial Director

Today is “Job Fair Day” on The Apprentice, as the candidates will interview with each of the executives. One of the candidates will be sent home. [How much do you want to bet it will be Jim?] Jim says, “With the exception of marrying my wife, this is the most important day of my life.” [Well, we already knew that the birth of your second child didn’t rate, so this is good to know.]

Jim enters Jonathan’s office, and immediately gets off to a bad start. When Jonathan asks Jim to talk about himself, Jim isn’t sure what he wants to know. Jonathan rolls his eyes and says that he wants to know “why I want to hire you”. Dawna meets with Gael and tells her that she knows how to make people focus on tasks. Dawna tells the camera that she’s more professional than the other two remaining candidates. Bethenny tells Margaret that she’s now on her third career [Nice flub there, Bethenny. Why don’t you just tell her that you can’t hold a job?] Bethenny tells Gael that Dawna is the strongest corporate-type person, and she’s the strongest creative-type. Susan wants to know if Jim has any regrets regarding this whole 12-week “interview” process. [C’mon Jim! She’s giving you a clear opening to take back your comments about it all being a game.] Jim looks puzzled, and Susan makes a note that he has no regrets. However, just below this note is another saying “Mistake – gets too excited”. Then we get a rapid-fire montage…ending with Jim making some ridiculous statement to Jonathan about how he is a “sapling” who can grow into a mighty oak with the proper nurturing. [Is that some kind of homoerotic proposition?] Dawna continues with her seemingly practiced responses, and Bethenny continues to seem scatter-brained. [Apparently, having a good rack got her where she is today. And the fact that Charles has probably seen her naked {see my recap from Week #1}.] And finally we get the best quote from the interviews. Jim said, “I’m the worst candidate to work for Martha Stewart Living, except for all the other candidates that applied for this job…It’s an ‘easy’ [he used air-quotes] job.” Jonathan is flabbergasted: “That, [pause] is not true.” Jim agrees, and laughs, seeming to realize that he is now toast.

Martha, Charles, Alexis, and the rest of the crew all meet in the conference room. Susan says that Dawna is “almost the whole package, but I’m not sure she would do anything that would surprise us.” Gael says that Dawna’s responses were too pat, and Jonathan interjects that this simply reflects practice and experience. Margaret was impressed with Dawna.

Jonathan thought Bethenny was “very high energy, almost manic, but she was the only one of the three that I could picture working in any division of the company.” Susan says that she’s entrepreneurial, but seems to flit through things as they disinterest her. Margaret likes Bethenny’s “scrappiness”, and Martha adds that she also flitted between interests earlier in life.

Susan is still ticked off about Jim’s comments at dinner two weeks ago where he said he had a strategy to play the game. [Of course, anybody would be well-advised to have a game strategy if they were a contestant on a show like this; although they would also be well-advised to keep their mouth shut about their strategy in front of the people who could influence the final decision.] Jonathan remarks that he couldn’t understand a word that Jim said: “Jim may be talented and creative, but I don’t know if I would feel comfortable having him at my side.” Gael says that working with Jim would consume an enormous amount of time.

Martha calls the candidates into the conference room, and gets right down to brass tacks. When she starts to mention Jim’s comments about strategy and games, he spouts off some more nonsense and digs a deeper hole. [The rest of Martha’s comments to Jim were clearly dubbed in later.] “You are a loose-cannon, and you’ve managed to alienate a lot of your teammates…and here at MSLO, we just can’t tolerate that kind of behavior. You’ve played it your way, now I’ll play it my way. The game’s over Jim. You’re out of here.” He quiets down and averts his eyes for a moment. Then he stands up, offers a hand to shake, and says the experience has been wonderful. As he picks up his bags, he’s all smiles and says, “It’s all good”, and thanks the receptionist for her help; but he can’t speak in more than a whisper, as if he’s almost ready to cry.

Martha tells Dawna and Bethenny that they each get to pick three former candidates to work for them on their final task. They return to the loft to find a bottle of champagne on the table, along with a scrapbook of photos of their vanquished foes [a recap mechanism obviously stolen from Survivor]. They note that they each started on opposing teams, Creative vs. Corporate.

The Scrapbook:
Jeff – I didn’t get to know him very well [No duh!]
Chuck – Although I love you Chuck, I don’t need a nervous breakdown
Shawn - She’s gorgeous. I can’t believe how much we’ve done
Dawn - I really like her [That’s funny, because no one else did]
Jen – Jen’s beautiful [If you can’t say anything good about their character, then say that they looked good]
David – David was a cutie [See! Just like I said above]
Sarah and Carrie – Sara probably hates me because I called her a liar [You betcha, Bethenny]
Howie – Howie the hog
Amanda – Amanda and I will probably end up good friends
Leslie – A phenomenal salesperson
Marcela and Ryan – It’s so sad, because they both became friends
Jim – I think he’s a really good guy. He’s got some growing up to do, but he’ll be very successful

They decide to choose their teams. Dawna thinks they should write down their choices, but Bethenny gets Dawna to name her choices out loud: Amanda, Sarah, and Howie. She only wants people working for her that would want her to win. Bethenny tells the camera that she is in a predicament. Because Bethenny has been on the losing team so many times, she has had to criticize most of the others in the conference room to get where she is now. The only candidates who might want her to win who she likes are Marcela, Chuck, and Jim, and she can’t take Marcela or Chuck [because, frankly, they suck]. Bethenny decides to pick Ryan, Jim, and Carrie. Dawna is surprised at the choice of Carrie, but Bethenny thinks she will work hard anyway.

The next morning they learn from Martha that each of them will be planning and managing a charity event. Bethenny will manage the “Apple and Eve presents the Big Apple Circus”; proceeds to go the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of America. Dawna will run the Liz Claiborne Fashion Show and Charity Benefit; proceeds to a domestic violence charity called Safe Horizon. The team leaders will be chauffeured to their locations, while the remaining team members will follow in vans [so that they can bitch about stuff in private].

Bethenny steps out of the building and immediately gets into her car. Carrie [flashing more boob than appropriate, in an apparent attempt to out-breast her Project Manager] is pissed off, because they have no idea what they are doing or where they are going. Dawna, on the other hand, walks right up to the van with her teammates and gives them a quick pep-talk. Bethenny finally gives Jim a call via cell-phone to brief them on the task. Carrie is still pissed, but Jim says they have to win it for Bethenny: “Bethenny is my girl, and we need to win it for all the bad kids in the world.” [Is he saying that he and Bethenny are the bad kids, or that the kids who go to Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs are bad?] Jim tells the camera that he was confused about Bethenny’s choices of Ryan and Carrie, until he realized that she had no friends among the former candidates. Carrie continues, as ever, to be pissed.

Bethenny et al. meet with Jim Roper of the Big Apple Circus. Jim says that they have a pre-made show, but then insists that Bethenny is responsible for coordinating all the acts, the lighting, the sound, the rigging, pleasing the sponsors (Apple and Eve juice, Pringles) and the charities, etc., etc. Bethenny’s quote: “The irony is that ‘the circus’ is a circus.” Dawna asks Amanda and Howie to manage the fashion show aspect of her event [since Howie is in the fashion industry], while she and Sarah coordinate the party/reception aspects and everything else.

Bethenny and Ryan visit Crobar, a large nightclub that is the site of their event. When Bethenny asks the Crobar events manager where things will be set up, she feigns ignorance and says that Bethenny has to tell her where to set everything up. [This girl is getting no help from people who probably should at least be giving her hints.] Ryan, however, is not impressed at Bethenny’s apparent inability to make quick decisions. At their venue, Kapital, Dawna and Sarah are given a bit more direction by James LaForce, a professional event planner, although he also insists that they have to decide the exact locations of stuff. James thinks that Dawna’s face is constantly buried in her notes.

Amanda and Howie go to pick out the fashions for the show. They meet with some Liz Claiborne designers, and Amanda immediately blows it by saying that some of the clothes are “frumpy”. Howie tries to salvage the situation, but also manages to insult the Claiborne designers. They think about picking a certain number of outfits in each color, but are basically told by the designers that is a stupid idea. They both admit to being clueless about what to do. Howie says that he works on the business side of his company rather than the creative side, so picking fashions is not his forte [which he mispronounces as “for-tay”, rather than the correct {but commonly missed} “fort”. At least this doesn’t bug me as much as when people say they are giving >100% of their efforts, which would mean an immediate firing if it were up to me.]

Bethenny meets with her contact from the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, who tells her that they usually make about $1,000,000 at their charity events. Right then and there, Bethenny decides to let the event run itself, and to focus on fundraising. Carrie and Jim work on the graphic design of a flyer for the event. On the way to the printer’s shop, Carrie steps up the bitchiness. She says that, at some point, Bethenny will have to justify why she needs to work for her.

Back in the loft, Howie, Jim and Ryan start knocking back more than a few beers. Howie thinks Dawns doesn’t know, but she hears it all from the next room. Dawns wonders with Amanda whether she made the right decision to ask Howie back. Amanda says Howie won’t embarrass himself, but we are shown Howie making stupid chimpanzee faces while drunk in the kitchen.

Carrie corners Bethenny in the van to ask her why she should even give a shit. Carrie wants to know why Bethenny said in the conference room that she (Carrie) was the weakest player on the team. Bethenny immediately says that this was true: “I wouldn’t make that up. I don’t lie.” Bethenny wants Carrie to not take what is said during the game/interview personally, and to just let things go. Carrie seems disappointed with their conversation, but feels that she “can give Bethenny my effort, but not my endorsement.” [Well, I hope that makes you feel better, compromising your morals like that. If you’re pissed off, go ahead and sabotage her if you feel like it. Demand an apology! What have you got to lose?]

The next morning, Howie’s got a hangover, but he doesn’t look as bad as he reportedly feels. Dawna and Sarah check out the fashions chosen by Amanda and Howie, and they are not happy. Amanda tries to accept responsibility, but neither Dawna nor the Liz Claiborne designer are pleased with her dropping the ball.

At Crobar, Bethenny intends to spend the whole day obtaining donated gift packages for a silent auction. The circus performers are there, but refuse to make any decisions without specific guidance. Finally, the circus manager gets Bethenny off of the phone to demand her attention. Jim illustrates Bethenny’s management style by putting a noose around his neck.

Next Week: The live finale of The Apprentice. Is anyone still watching this show? You can read Jim’s letter here: http://www.nbc.com/The_Apprentice:_Martha_Stewart/letters/index.shtml

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