A Dose of Reality: The Apprentice 2 - Episode 2: 32 Flavors and then some...
by Beth Gottfried
Published: September 17, 2004
"Always serve too much hot fudge sauce on hot fudge sundaes. It makes people overjoyed and puts them in your debt." - Judith Olney
"Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn't illegal." - Voltaire
As Hurricane Ivan makes its way up the East Coast and threatens to ravage my area today, I am reminded of last night's episode and the whirlwind of drama and all-out chaos that has set the tone for this year's season of "The Apprentice." Show-stopping antics and hair-raising tactics are no longer behavior simply attributable to the cast, but have now spread to the show's once impenetrable core: George, Carolyn ,and DT (the latter has been wanting to showcase his inner diva for a while now, so no shock there.) The once directed and composed Carolyn of yesteryear has become much more vocal in her "tell it like it is" demeanor and facially expressive with her disapproval of each business faux pas of DT's lemmings. Whatever it is, the comments may be overdone, but they still ring amusing (for now). Perhaps the most offensive and overdone theme is the show's token whacked-out African American woman we all love to hate prototype. In her defense, Stacie J is no Omarosa, but inevitably the cast has decided to target her as a scapegoat mostly due to her anti-clique tendencies and erratic behavior on last week's episode. Whatever it is, bring it on. Stacie J may deem herself worthy of the lyrics in Ani Difranco's "32 Flavors," but she's mostly just the "and then some" following the "32 flavors"--bland and non-descript.
While on the theme of the overdone, superlatives are quickly becoming a has-been on "The Apprentice." Akin to many trendy magazines, "In/Out" lists, employing these in the show's business context has become passé and very 5 minutes ago. It seems to be all the rage chez Trump Towers to say something grosses $20 Billion annually. Last week it was the toy industry and wouldn't you know it, as evidenced in last night's episode, the ice cream industry also grosses this same exact amount annually. When I say "$20 Billion" I am reminded of the scene in Austin Powers where Dr. Evil threatens to take over the world and asks for $1 Million in ransom. He is then informed that this is pennies and asks for $1 Billion. If you follow my logic here, the "billion" antecedent makes something that much BIGGER hence diminishing or altogether eradicating the need for superlatives. It's my prediction that the superlatives are not entirely gone however--this is a Trump show and New Yorkers are Masters at the art of embellishing especially with regards to finances and will employ whatever means or part of speech to do so.
So Hot it's Cold
This week Donald focuses on the $20 Billion Ice Cream Industry. Similar to last year's lemonade selling episode, Teams Apex or Climax, and Mosaic must duke it out on the mean streets of NYC and whichever teams raises the most $$ wins the mission. DT's goal is to create "the finest" Ice Cream Parlor ever and he partners up with Ciao Bella Gelatto in this endeavor. (Warning: another gratuitous shameless plugging of product/brand.) I'm not sure how well the ice cream will do considering I've yet to actually see a Trump Ice water on the market, but you know what they say about not succeeding, keep trying and you will? Right.
Stacey R. comments that the women's team will have a better chance at winning this mission as they are a group of highly specialized individuals. This seems rather a diplomatic and not all that honest comment, but then again she is a lawyer. Tact is what they go to school to learn.
Team Mosaic assembles and talks strategy. As none of them has any experience in the food industry, they decide to draw straws (or $1 BILLION bills) to see who will be team leader. Kelly, military man extraordinaire, gets the task and seems a bit apprehensive but decides its time to unleash the Rambo and get tough with the team or maybe just act like a leader (unfamiliar territory on this show.) He delegates tasks and executes a plan efficiently and with time to spare. The Sales team: Wes, John, Kevin, and Raj go back to the suite to make cold calls to potential clients (restaurants and chefs). The rest of the team: Pamela, Andy, and Chris take to the Ciao Bella Factory and talk details. Tension between the immature Andy and the anal retentive Pamela starts to rear its ugly head again. These two need to do it and get it over with already. Wait, scratch that. EWW!
Apex is led by its nominated leader Ivana who is busy wasting everyone's time with analytical business models and flow charts that do a good job of talking around the task-at-hand but don't really accomplish anything. It reminded me of writing essays in college when I didn't bother to really understand the subject so I talked a lot around the actual point for roughly five pages and then closed the paper with an equally wishy-washy point. This would be Ivana in a nutshell: completely ineffective, weak and with all the trappings of success but none of the actual substance. A big "Family Feud"-style X in my book.
Later that night, back at the we can't think an original thought if our lives depended upon it and took an entire day to launch Red Velvet ice cream, the women's team learns of Mosaic's strategy (by reading their agenda) and learns that Mosaic will be heading out to Times Square. As Apex has no ideas of their own, they naturally decide to steal Mosaic's idea and undermine their sales. Maria, (who gets way too much air time) feels that this is business and how the corporate world works. I love when otherwise unethical and inhumane behavior is justified in such a fashion. I mean, what would happen if politics and business didn't exist? In the short term, prisons would be overflowing. Long term, absolute chaos, akin to whatever develops after sitting thru a 100-minute "Apprentice" segment 2 weeks in a row. Insanity.
At the last minute, the guys decide upon a donut flavored ice-cream to market and head over to Times Square bright and early adorned in Raj's bow ties (great Ice Cream apparel!) Raj has the brilliant idea of branding the donut-flavored "breakfast" ice cream and people really go for it. I mean, truthfully, it's never too early or too late for ice cream. Also of note, the men's team decides to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Leukemia Society . Way to go, guys!
Back at the penthouse, off to a much later start, the gals are primping and Bradford is urging them to wear short skirts. Ivana is offended by this and asserts that she would rather lose than "play the sex card." Be careful what you wish for. In my experience, you never actually mean it.
Damn that Go-Cart
Later in the day, Apex heads to the "TKTS" booth in Times Square with their 2 carts and hits a few snags. First off, a vendor kicks them out of their location as he has a permit and they don't. In deer in headlights decorum, the 2 carts go flying in opposite directions and there seems to be a mishap with directions. Maria goes searching for the missing cart and is told "42nd and 7th" when in fact they cart is at "42nd and Broadway." In any event as George says later on, the streets are half a block apart, where's the confusion? Bloody Maria is miffed when she can't find the other cart and the gals waste a lot of time bitching and moaning. Ironic, too, considering it's not so much the directions that were the issue but their reactions regarding the misinformation that really caused the delay in time and lack of sales. Jennifer C., also a big culprit in this confusion, and the person originally responsible for stealing the men's team agenda, also decided to steal their idea of putting the 2 carts together. Perhaps if the gals hadn't been so hell-bent on this particular idea they would have focused their attention on sales. And more importantly, perhaps stemming from guilt or simply fueled with a desire to win, Jennifer C. gets the chefs and restaurant owners to come to the carts, maximizing on sales and profit and hopefully making up for lost time.
Team Mosaic recruits attractive women to sell their ice cream and uses slightly sexual means to push their brand, but nothing as offensive as last year's so I'm not sure why Pamela (world's most unenthusiastic saleswoman EVER) was so pissy over it. Go with it, woman. Over at Apex, Bradford is wooing the crowd, working it with his charismatic, outgoing personality. Ivana reveals that she finally understands his value. I'm glad she finally got something. Now remind me why she's on here?
At the end of the day, it's boardroom time again. In the end, Mosaic wins by $250 and Kelly, in a gesture of charity and good will, asks Trump to donate all their profits to the Leukemia Foundation. The women's team looks devastated, but Bradford is sitting pretty as his immunity from last week's round has him safe. Or so it would seem…
Mosaic's prize is dinner at the Petrosian (finest caviar in NYC). At the restaurant, Pamela is stoked and "in her element" but she comments that the men seem a little out of of theirs. Andy makes the funniest comment of the night when he remarks about the very expensive cavier, "I think I have $20 stuck in my tooth." He scores big points for that in my book. Good humor is never to be underrated.
Apex heads to the boardroom after a night of Ivana trying to get everyone to oust Stacie J. (in lieu of her). Personally I understand people doing what they have to do to win, but Ivana sunk pretty low. Bradford is still devastated from the loss and states the obvious, "Coming in second is like coming in last for me." Just an observation here, but maybe that's cause when you only have one other competitor, it is one and the same!
In the boardroom, everyone is pointing fingers at Ivana and then suddenly the mood shifts to everyone targeting Stacie J. Bradford, ever-too-cocky, makes the HUGE blunder of saying he's "so confident in his abilities, he's willing to waive [his] exemption." Trump accepts this and says it's the stupidest thing he could have done. Ivana decides to take Jennifer C, Stacie J, and Bradford into the boardroom with her.
Carolyn thinks Ivana should go home; George is leaning towards oddball Stacie J.; and DT is silent, but knows what needs to be done. He reassembles the foursome and does the typical interrogation round with them. Trump says over and over again that "Bradford is the strongest player in the room," Ivana is a "lousy " leader, and Jennifer C. didn't do anything wrong and shouldn't be there. Stacie J is also called out as being a non-team player. In the end though, in perhaps what really was the most shocking elimination round-to-date, DT fires Bradford, someone who showed the most promise/potential on this year's cast, for making what he deemed "an impulsive decision." On a larger scale, Trump justified that making those types of stupid, life-altering decisions would be unacceptable when you are running a large corporation. Personally it's less acceptable to me to resort to those tactics simply to boost your shock-ratings, and inevitably raises the question of whether this season is really about seeking out the most capable and business savvy candidate or promoting Mr. Trump.
Beth Gottfried is co-author of 10 Secrets I Learned From The Apprentice, available at Amazon. Published by Chamberlain Brothers, 2004.