'Celebrity Apprentice' Recap: Getting 'Mid-Evil'

Teams tasked with producing Medieval Times stage shows

penn jillette
Douglas Gorenstein/NBC
Penn Jillette juggles with fire on 'The Celebrity Apprentice.'
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In a rather un-Trumpian move, Celebrity Apprentice ran its second episode on a night it was sure to take a ratings beat-down. After all, the 84th annual Academy Awards, a show in which actual celebrities were featured, aired simultaneously. Nonetheless, we imagine Donald Trump's ego prevented him from postponing an episode, no matter the circumstance.

The second episode opens as both teams wait to see which member of the women's squad has been canned. To no one's surprise, former model Cheryl Tiegs gets the ax. But Victoria Gotti, who was called out in last episode's boardroom, issues a stern warning to her teammates – specifically, actress Tia Carrere, who blasted her over the last task. "It's on, baby!" Gotti snarls. "Ya'll better watch out!"

As is standard procedure, last week's winning project manager – in this case, American Chopper big dog Paul Teutul Sr. – delivers a check to his charity. In this instance, it's actually quite touching to see such a gnarly dude getting emotional as he gives a $495K check made out to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to 11-year-old Gabriel, who sadly is suffering from leukemia.

With the remaining contestants gathered – that is, aside from Adam Carolla, who we learn had to host a wedding and will therefore be absent for this challenge (um, OK?) – Trump, joined by trumpeters and a guest mentor, Inside The Actor's Studio's grand enunciator James Lipton, informs the teams of their next task. Both teams will be performing at thy-place-of-greasy-chicken-and-wenches, Medieval Times. The teams must create a 12-to-15-minute performance that will be judged on creativity and overall presentation; the audience will ultimately vote to determine the winning squad.

Photos: Hottest Rock Pictures

For the men, assigning a project manager is a no-brainer: Penn Jillette, who has spent the past two decades being handsomely paid for putting on tacky shows, is naturally the best fit. The women just as swiftly agree on comedian Lisa Lampanelli, who feels confident running the show, as she is "on stage an hour and a half a night." But for the ladies, this is where any camaraderie ends.

Separated into two cars, the women's squad conference calls via speakerphone. Lampanelli is immediately turned off by her teammates' constant need to interrupt. "There's gonna be no interrupting during this task!" she barks, later adding, "I'm not here to teach you not to be an interrupting pain in my ass!" With tempers (tentatively) in check, the women – seeing as how The Real Housewives of New Jersey's Teresa Giudice is on their team and the performance is taking place in New Jersey – decide it best to theme their show "The Unreal Housewives of Camelot." Really, the theme serves as a foreboding sign of the Housewife-esque drama that's to come.

As was the case last week, the men are noticeably more in tune with one another. Perhaps it's because of their humor. "I've been to Medieval Times more than I've been to L.A. strip clubs," Arsenio Hall says proudly. "That's a lot!"

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, who’s yet to show any signs of his typical eccentricity, tells his teammates their show should be "big, gay, loud and fun." They therefore decide to dress the singer up in drag and deem him "Lady Dee." The men's show, as Jillette later admits, doesn't have a "real plot," but the team members nonetheless work on perfecting its scenes. Lou Ferrigno gets giddy that he's using a sword; Teutul Sr. plans to utilize a medieval-themed chopper (is there going to be a task in which he doesn't use a chopper?!?); Clay Aiken will sing an impossibly high note.

The women also assign roles for the show. But Gotti is not happy. Lampanelli, after assigning acting roles to other team members, gives her the task of being "creative director." To which the mob daughter feels as if she's been put "in a closet." The drama continues: we see Gotti practicing sword-fighting while donning a Louis Vuitton messenger bag, and when Lampanelli asks Gotti to research medieval language, Gotti types "mid-evil" into Google, much to the comedian's dismay.

As Day Two begins and the teams head back to Medieval Times to rehearse before showtime, we learn that Gotti told Lampanelli she wanted to join the men's team; she felt she was being under-utilized. Lampanelli reassures her that as the creative director she'll be a "gangster in the booth," and all seems to be well. Rehearsals are shaky for both teams, however. On the men's side, George Takei is having trouble with the script, and Dee Snider breaks his finger after being thrown from a horse. The women, meanwhile, can't seem to get on the same page with their script and cues.

After nearly an hour, we are at last treated to both teams' actual performances. The men's show is nearly flawless: Snider performs despite his injury, looking, as Takei says, "lovely" as a woman" – although apparently not lovely enough for Ferrigno, as the muscle man mock-kills himself rather than kissing the singer.

The women's show gets off to a rocky start. Gotti doesn't cue up a trumpet as Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza comes out riding a horse while wearing a nude body suit, and Lampanelli awkwardly begins her announcing duties amid the crowd’s silence. Other highlights include Debbie Gibson flashing her derrière to the child-heavy crowd and Giudice flipping a table in a nod to her famous Real Housewives blowup.

In the boardroom, the good times really get going. Lampanelli feels "confident, but not cocky" about her team's performance. Quickly, however, the claws come out. Gotti says she was "really hurt" by Lampanelli dismissing her as a vital team member. "Don't expect me to be your mother!" Lampanelli responds. The men, by contrast, all have crazy love for Jillette's performance as project manager. But when Trump forces the oafish comedian to name two players he'd bring back into the boardroom if his team lost (he picks Ferrigno and Takei), all love goes out the window – at least from Ferrigno, who says he feels insulted that Jillette "underestimated" him.

After James Lipton praises the work of both squads – hard to imagine he believes what he's saying – the winning team is announced. By a score of 550 to 363, the men, for the second week in a row, are victorious. They are dismissed, and the women are left to battle it out once again.

As the women begin to bicker, Lipton looks utterly terrified. Gotti begins to cry, and Trump offers her a backhanded compliment: "You do have a heart.” The tension, specifically between Lampanelli and Gotti, is palpable. Lampanelli decides to bring back Gotti and Mendoza to the boardroom; Lampanelli says she feels Mendoza, like Gotti, didn't contribute much to the team effort. Even as they wait to be called back into the boardroom by our favorite TV assistant, Amanda, Lampanelli and Gotti fire verbal slingshots at one another. At one point, Lampanelli mouths, "Shut the fuck up!"

Back in the boardroom, Mendoza can only laugh as Lampanelli and Gotti get catty. The obvious high point comes as Lipton, in a gem of a- oliloquy, says the defining factor in this task was deciding who had that "seven-syllable word" he tells all his students: P-A-S-S-I-O-N. Mendoza admits that Lampanelli, not Gotti, has more energy and would be a better team asset going forward. Trump sees no other choice but to let Gotti go. "There's no question you were thinking about quitting," Trump says. "I hate that!" Gotti departs, awkwardly hugging Mendoza and leaving 16 contestants to duke it out.

Next Week: With Lampanelli having unleashed her inner beast, the competition promises to be quite juicy going forward. In next week’s preview, we learn that both teams will design a window display for Trump's daughter Ivanka's fashion line. Seriously, though, when will anything dramatic happen with the men's team? It could be next week: Snider apparently may have to quit due to his injured finger. Stay tuned.

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