As if rock music needed to be dealt another blow, last week’s episode of Celebrity Apprentice saw Dee Snider eliminated, meaning two rockers had now been eliminated in as many weeks. Not that the Twisted Sister’s dismissal was particularly surprising. “It’s gonna be Dee,” Lil Jon predicted seconds before Snider’s board room cohorts, Gary Busey and Stephen Baldwin, strolled into the suite to little surprise from their fellow contestants. But Busey is still fuming: in what’s becoming a weekly tradition, Marilu Henner, like many of her teammates before, had badmouthed Busey in the board room. She now takes the opportunity to apologize to him. But the bizarre actor is already worlds away. “I’ve healed a lot of people,” he explains, with no reference. “That’s what happens when you get injected with love from supernatural angels. I’m a human in an angel suit.”
Right. So onto this week’s task. Crystal Light must be in Donald Trump‘s good graces: for the second time in two seasons, the artificial drink-sweetening brand is at the center of an episode. This week, the two teams are tasked with creating a five-minute, mini soap-opera performance dramatizing the new Crystal Light liquid (a/k/a condensed flavor in a test tube created to allow easy upping of the flavor ante in a drink). Oh yes, and iconic soap stars Jack Wagner and Susan Lucci will each be joining a respective team for the task, both aiming to help their team’s project manager win $50,000 for his or her charity.
And who are the project managers this week, you ask? La Toya Jackson for Team Power and Baldwin for Plan B. Building upon Snider’s assessment of him as “sleazy” last week, Baldwin says he’s now inhabiting a “Gordon Gecko ruthless psycho” personality for this week’s task. Penn Jillette, who quickly asserts himself as the brains behind Baldwin’s team, sizes up his project manager as not one of particularly high intelligence.
Jackson is having her own issues. It’s far from pretty. The soft-spoken sister of MJ already had previously made no secret of her dislike of teammate Omarosa. But when Team Power gets together to begin brainstorming ideas for their soap opera skit – which winds up hinging on the premise that every time an ominous sound byte is played, the audience will take a sip of their Crystal Light drink – all hell breaks loose. Jackson, PO’ed that Omarosa keeps interrupting her every five seconds, tells her to “shut her mouth.” Naturally this triggers an “Oh no you didn’t!” moment from the tornado of fury that is Omarosa. “I will take you down!” she screams. Lil Jon can’t help but be amused; he points out that both women have entered fighting mode – namely, standing up and cocking their necks. Jackson sends Omarosa away to make wardrobe selections with Claudia Jordan, prompting Jackson to make a brutal assessment of her new foe. “Omarosa’s fiancé passed away not too long ago,” she says of the late actor Michael Clark Duncan. “He had a heart attack. I’m sure she gave it to him.”
Jillette, meanwhile, is busy taking the reigns of Team Plan B. The magician drums up their soap opera premise – each time they squirt the Crystal Light liquid into a cup, they’ll up the cheesy romance of the scene –which Baldwin thinks is great because either it’ll work splendidly or he can blame the entire failure on his teammate. Susan Lucci pays the team a visit, prompting Trace Adkins to remark that he enjoys “good horse flesh, beautiful mountains, beautiful landscapes and beautiful women.”
Back on Ms. Jackson’s squad, tension is still running high between her and Omarosa. Last season’s winner, Arsenio Hall, pays a visit and immediately senses the drama. “She’s a conniving witch,” Jackson tells him of Omarosa –as if he needed confirmation. But wait, Omarosa suddenly has to leave. It seems a tabloid is going to run the 911 tapes from her late fiancé minutes before his death. So there she goes. And no one seems to mind.
Rehearsals prove to be rather uninteresting: Baldwin is an overbearing director; Jordan is a surprisingly adept actress. Dennis Rodman, well, he’s just in the background most of the time.
Both teams’ actual performances wind up being surprisingly solid and, dare I say, entertaining: Henner makes out with Busey, Jack Wagner makes middle-aged women swoon simply by opening his mouth; Adkins pretends to be a pool boy hot on the trail of Lisa Rinna. (Omarosa, it should be noted, magically returns mere minutes before her team hits the stage.)
But, of course, when both teams head to the board room to face Trump, the real fun begins. Jackson and Omarosa waste little time before biting each other’s heads off. Even Rodman gets in on the action. “Omarosa tries to play games all the time,” he says. “I don’t know why she has to do it.” On the contrary, aside from the usual “Gary Busey is a nuisance” chatter, Baldwin’s team is all lovey-dovey with one another. “Everybody gets 20 gold stars,” Alec’s uninteresting brother says.
The teams learn their fate: ultimately the Crystal Light executives felt Baldwin’s team better expressed their brand’s message, combined with a solid skit. So they notch the win.
All signs now point to a showdown between Jackson and Omarosa as for who will get the ax. Jackson even goes so far as to ask Trump if she can personally fire Omarosa. Trump, of course, says no. Then, in a moment still incomprehensible, Jackson decides to bring back not Omarosa, but Brande Roderick and Rodman with her to the board room. Trump is baffled. He says in 13 seasons of the show he’s never been more confused. The only logical explanation, he says, is that Jackson is afraid of Omarosa’s wrath.
Trump has little choice now. Neither Rodman nor Roderick deserve to be here. And he even admits he would have fired Omarosa had she been brought back to the board room. But, as he tells Jackson, “You stood up to her until it counted. You brought the wrong people back. You made a terrible choice. La Toya, you’re fired!”
And so Ms. Jackson departs, losing not only her chance to vanquish Omarosa, but also her dignity.
Last Week: It’s Rough for Rockers