"Final four," says Lil Jon, taking in the glory that is advancing to the final round of Donald Trump's oh-so-meaningful (and inexplicably long-running) reality competition, Celebrity Apprentice. With last week's dismissal of Marilu Henner, the exclamation point of a rapper is now joined by Lisa Rinna, Penn Jillette and Trace Adkins as the sole remaining contestants.
But hold up! In a now-yearly move that makes no particular sense, Trump calls the four (pseudo) celebs back into the board room at the outset of this week's episode. "You're the best of the best," says Trump, "but we're far from over." Yes, as The Donald explains to them, he will now proceed to grill the foursome on their merits and dispatch one from each team. Either Adkins or Lil Jon will be fired from Team Power, and either Jillette or Rinna will leave Team Plan B.
Each of the celebs lays out their case. Adkins says he has lots of big-money donors left; Lil Jon says he should "definitely remain in the room" despite his losing track record this season as a project manager; Rinna points out she's the second-highest earner for her charity behind Adkins; and Jillette contends that no one "handle pressure better" than he does.
But there are inexplicable firings to be had. Trump tells Rinna she's the "comeback player of the year," but it's Jillette, not she, who will be advancing to the finals. "It was a win-win-win-win situation in so many ways," Rinna says of her time on the show, her puffed-out lips looking extra pouty. For the other twosome of Jon and Adkins, Trump says he can't look past the fact that Adkins has raised the most money for his charity and never lost as project manager. Naturally then, Lil Jon is fired. "I wanna go in there and kick the board room table," says the rapper, annoyed by his dismissal. "You can tweet Mr. Trump now and tell [him] I was supposed to be in the Final Two," he instructs any and all of those actually watching the show.
And so now begins this season's Celebrity Apprentice finals. The contenders: husky magician Penn Jillette and ogre-sized country singer Trace Adkins. The final task, both men learn, is to promote Walgreens' new ice cream. Specifically, each man must come up with a new flavor, create packaging for it, produce a 60-second promotional video and host a 50-person VIP event in its honor. Per usual, a handful of past contestants are brought back to assist both men. Rinna, La Toya Jackson and Dennis Rodman join Jillette’s team; Lil Jon, Gary Busey and Henner link up with Adkins.
Both teams head to the Walgreens ice cream laboratory where they're tasked with narrowing down their choices of flavors to two; afterwards, they'll bring both to a store and have the public perform a taste test to determine which is more popular. Jillette's squad is deciding between Butter Pecan and "Vegas Magic Swirtle" (a.k.a. chocolate-and-vanilla swirl and turtle candies). Adkins’s team is choosing between Red Velvet and Maple Macadamia Mashup.
Previous Celebrity Apprentice winner Joan Rivers, Trump's advisor on the task, visits both teams. Jillette's team, she surmises, (unsurprisingly) going with a Vegas theme for their presentation and party, are right on track. Adkins’ team, she worries, may have trouble getting big-name celebrities to come to their VIP event. "Half of Marilu's friends are dead," says Rivers.
Post-public taste test, Jillette's team settles on the "Magic Swirtle" flavor; Adkins goes with the Maple Mashup. Jillette is nothing if not supremely confident in his choice of flavor. "People will be sucking it down like it's black tar heroin," he says.
But the task, as Rivers mentioned, is likely to come down to which team can bring in high-powered (and deep-pocketed) celebrities to attend its respective VIP event. Jillette is hoping Wayne Newton comes by; Adkins is desperately hoping some of his Nashville connections come through. "Vegas vs. Nashville," Jillette says, analyzing the situation. "At just about anything Vegas wins."
For his team’s promotional video, Jillette again enlists his longtime silent partner, Teller, as well as scantily clad Vegas showgirls. Adkins opts for a video in which Busey dances around like a moron. "I feel real good. We came up with an entertaining piece," says Adkins, perhaps hiding his fear of losing. "This is either gonna be crazy good or just crazy," teammate Henner adds of their Busey-centric offering.
But just when Jillette's team appears to be the clear front-runners to take the Apprentice crown, they've now hit a bump in the road: Their video is much too long. No edits, we learn, can trim it down to the appropriate length. "We're sunk," Jillette says. "We're in big big trouble."
And that's where we're left in the Part One of this two-part season finale of Celebrity Apprentice. Do your best to contain your excitement until next week, we say, as difficult as that might be.
Last Week: The Battle at Barclays