Celebrity Apprentice 2012 Begins

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I must say I am impressed.

Donald Trump was the architect of the original series called "The Apprentice" before it went celebrity. The original series was quite the success in its hay day but as these things go, the allure faded, other competitive reality shows rose to challenge.

Seems that across the fruited plains America's interest in nobodies is very limited.

But add some celebrities to the mx, "celebrity" being somewhat subjective and often quite stretched, and interest rises. Add the altruism of working for charities and God Bless, we're off to a roaring start.

Oh yeah, and Trump's recent president campaign, insert snort here, sure helped garner interest.

Putting snark aside for a second, I admire The Donald, as me and first wife Ivana like to call him. If anybody knows how to perk up audience interest and manipulate the media, it's Donald.

He outfits his bathrooms with gold faucets, he marries exotic beauties and fathers children with each. He throws his hat in the presidential ring and goodness, let's not forget how he trotted out the presidential contenders who came to see him with hand out for donations.

Below is the beginning list of the celebrity contenders:

Adam Carolla
Arsenio Hall
Aubrey O'Day
Cheryl Tiegs-sent home
Clay Aiken
Dayana Mendoza
Debbie Gibson
Dee Snider
George Takei
Lisa Lampanelli
Lou Ferrigno
Michael Andretti
Patricia Velasquez
Paul Teutul, Sr.
Penn Jillette
Teresa Giudice
Tia Carrere
Victoria Gotti

On this first episode, Cheryl Tiegs got fired by The Donald but dear Lord that board room sessions was interminable.

I understand that the sessions in the Board room are the major drama of the series. Indeed I enjoy the drama of the Board room as part of the viewing audience and as it is scripted for maximum impact. But The Donald tends to stretch it out a bit too much and I think this over-reach is going to hurt the series.

On this first Celebrity Apprentice challenge the teams were charged with making sandwiches and selling them to see which team makes the most money.

The men's team picked the name UNANIMOUS and the women's team went with FORTE.

The way Trump has this competition set up, the celebrities are expected to use their celebrity and inside contacts to the maximum. So first the details of making some sort of winning sandwich then the celebrities should start calling all their rich friends and get them down to the site to buy sanwiches for $100 each.

Most times the challenges turn out to be simple money raising marathons. Patricia Velasquez was the Project Manager for the women while Paul Teutul was PM for the men's team.

Teutel got one donation for $305,000.

Well hey, got to sell a lot of sandwich to get close to that money bomb received in one fell swoop. In fact Velasquez did begin an argument that it was almost impossible for her team to meet that one time donation that did not, really, require a whole bunch of work. Indeed the women's team raise over a $100,000, which is a lot of sandwiches, but that money didn't come via one donor dropping a ton of money. The Donald waved away Velasquez' argument because, well because it was a darn good argument and the whole show is based on the premise that whoever brings in the most money wins. Had the FORTE team brought in more money, no matter if via one big money dump or selling an outrageous amount of sandwiches, that team would have been the winner.

The winning team is NOT the one who works the hardest or makes the best sandwich and those are the rules.

So while The Donald stretches out the boardroom drama until excrutiation, he knows how to wave off the discussion when it will lead nowhere.

As for the celebrity contenders, I'm starting to see a pattern here. Dee Snyder was recently on a new show called Celebrity Wife Swap. Penn Jillette and Adam Carolla were on Dancing With the Stars. Clay Aiken was once a finalist on American Idol.

There seems to be a culture of celebrities who will be better well known for appearing on celebrity reality shows, an intriguing concept that is best pondered over a second shot of whisky and water.

Arsenio Hall is a big surprise. Here's a guy that once had a great afternoon talk show. It's hard to envision him in this roll. Lou Ferrigno was The Incredible Hulk and to my amused surprise, has a very pronounced lisp incongruent with his muscles.

Trump does a good job of bringing other elements into his show. For this episode he had the contenders deliver sample sandwiches to Rachel Ray's TV show. Ray chose the best of the two offerings and that team got a $35,000 donation.

To add insult to injury, the men's team got the nod from Rachel and the match reveals that most of their money came from Ray's sandwich endorsement and that huge donation Project Manager Teutel got.

Cheryl Tiegs got sent home. Tiegs' only crime was being a bit plodding with placing sliced cheese on the sandwiches. It's no mind as I think this first show is scripted to the max. Tiegs probably could only appear on one episode and this was set up like this. I think most first episodes of these celebrity type shows are scripted in advance. No celebrity's going to sign up for something that should get them big exposure only to be humiliated by being first to get booted. This is a just a hunch of my part. Tiegs worked as hard as any on the FORTE team but she even uttered that she didn't think this series was for her. That sort of thing smacks of scripting, a way to lessen any perception of humiliation, that, after all, this is something I don't even like.

It looks like a good group of contenders this year and this is one of my favorite competitive reality shows. We'll be watching it closely so check in and see the expert analysis offered only on this Blog. We got plenty of snark.

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