A Dose of Reality: The Apprentice: Martha Stewart - Episode 12
by Caroline Roberts
Published: December 15, 2005
Martha summons the final three to her Connecticut studio for a "long and interesting day." Martha has quite a challenge in store for Dawna, Jim, and Bethenny - interviews with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia President and CEO Susan Lyne, Senior VP of Retail Merchandising Jonathan Chernes, Chief Creative Officer Gail Towey, and Editorial Director Margaret Roach.
Should Jim Just Slap a Piece of Duct Tape Over His Mouth?
The interviews rush past the viewer as a series of cascading questions, suggesting that the interview process was hell, or the guys in the editing room took a cue from Ryan and had a few Coronas. Dawna has the smoothest answers, confidently telling an exec, "I know how to make people focus." She seems to know what she wants to do at MSLO, whereas Bethenny and Jim have trouble answering that question.
At this point, it becomes clear that while Jim and Bethenny may be great at bringing their creative ideas to fruition, they are awkward in the corporate world. Bethenny admits that being a natural-foods chef is her third career. Jim stutters for what may be the first time in the history of the show, and when Susan Lyne asks Jim if he has any regrets, he says no. She gave him a chance to apologize for bragging about his strategy when they had dinner a few weeks ago, and he blows it. He also declares that he is "a sapling" who wants to grow into an oak while in the MSLO environment.
Martha confers with her execs and minions in the conference room, and, surprisingly enough, Bethenny and Dawna come out almost even. Everyone is impressed with Dawna's professionalism, but they're worried that she will be boring. Bethenny receives her fair share of backhanded compliments. The execs love her energy, but she's considered "almost manic." Another exec calls her "scrappy," but that attitude fits more with the spirit of MSLO.
Jim is out immediately. Nearly everything he said in the interview comes back to haunt him, including the sapling statement and his passion for strategy. One exec coldly dismisses him has high-maintenance: "That kind of person consumes an enormous amount of time, and I don't think I could do it."
The decision is simple for Martha, and it seems like she's had her speech for Jim prepared for a good long time:
"You're a loose cannon, and you've managed to alienate a lot of your teammates. Your experience, your level of management skills, and your understanding of the Martha Stewart content and brand just isn't thorough enough. The things that you do might be perceived as a liability or disruptive. You've played it your way, and now I'll play it my way. The game's over Jim. You're out of here."
Just like that! So anticlimactic! The last few lines sounded taped, so perhaps Martha was a little nicer when she gave Jim the boot in reality.
Martha's letter to Jim is surprisingly positive:
I am proud that you went from a badly losing team to one of the final three. You certainly surprised many people. You succeeded where many thought you might fail. My best wishes to your patient family. They will be happy to have you home.
Hmmm. Is she saying his family is patient because he's been gone for so long, or is she saying they're patient because they have to put up with him after the show? Well, even though he was crazy, Jim was one of the best reality-show contestants ever - the perfect mix of evil, competence, and fun. If this were Survivor, Jim would be enjoying his million-dollar nest egg right now, but Jim is simply not the kind of guy who could helm a major empire, although he is indeed one heck of an ad man.
Revenge of the Nerds?
Hence, Dawna and Bethenny emerge victorious, setting up a full-scale nerd vs. popular kid battle. They make nice in the loft and toast each other, and Bethenny points out that "corporate and creative are still representing!"
Martha also throws in a delightful twist - Jim can come back and be naughty some more! She hands Dawna and Bethenny their assignments. Bethenny will organize the Apple and Eve Big Apple Circus, and Dawna will plan the Liz Claiborne Fashion Show and Charity Benefit. To help them with these large tasks, Bethenny and Dawna can pick three of the losing contestants.
Picking three contestants enables Bethenny and Dawna to flip through a photo album of all the past contestants, to make sure that viewers haven't forgotten anyone. (I freely admit that I forgot about Jeffrey and his "edgy and urban" Hansel and Gretel.) Some people earn more compliments than others. Dawna praises Amanda highly and says they will "probably end up being good friends," and she even has kind words for Jim: "He has some growing up to do, but he's going to be successful."
Dawna knows exactly who she wants on her team. She wants Amanda, Sarah, and Howie, no question. Note that Dawna steered clear from anyone who was associated with the early Matchstick. Amanda and Howie are difficult, but they are ambitious, and they will most likely want to make up for their previous errors. But Dawna must really like Sarah, or she saw something that the television audience didn't see. Sarah had perhaps the most amazing crash-and-burn of the entire program with the Tide to Go pen fiasco.
On the other hand, Bethenny realizes the pickings are slim because she has "pissed off" many of her former teammates, with the exception of Jim. After Jim, there are still two big gaping holes. She pulls Ryan and Carrie out of a hat. Ryan and Jim are good calls, as Ryan has learned his lesson about the liquor and Jim will work hard because he is burnishing his application for The Surreal Life or Battle of the Network Reality Stars. But Carrie, whom Bethenny backstabbed in the conference room? Even Dawna warns Bethenny not to go there. Bethenny thinks Carrie will want to do a good job because she embarrassed herself in front of Martha.
Angry Circus People and the Ugly Green Headband
When everyone gets together, the Project Managers get to ride in a chauffeured car, and Carrie's claws come out when she, Ryan, and Jim have to tail Bethenny's limo. Jim comes swooping in like a Crazy Fairy Godfather, soothing Carrie's ego. He says, "Bethenny is my girl and she needs to win it for all the bad kids in the world," suggesting that it would benefit Carrie if she played ball. In that sense, Jim winds up actually project managing by reassuring Carrie that Bethenny knows what she is doing.
Bethenny has way more to worry about than the bitter Carrie, who wails, "She's gotta justify to me why I have to be working for her!" So you can be on tee-vee a little more, silly! Anyway, the Apple and Eve Big Apple Circus consists of what Bethenny calls a lot of "moving parts." Her team must cram a one-room circus into a bar, she must make sure that the sponsors are happy, and she must gather together donors since the Big Apple Circus is indeed a fundraiser. Bethenny spends lots of time writing down information, and Ryan says that he's "not seeing much decision-making" from Bethenny. Then again, Ryan might be accused of making decisions too quickly.
Perhaps Ryan is right. Since there are so many tasks involved with planning the circus, it's easy to feel overwhelmed, but Bethenny forgets that she can delegate tasks. All she needs to do is tell people what to do, but she spends most of the next day trying to attract fundraisers to the charity. That's good, but all the people associated with the circus are sitting around the bar waiting to be told what to do. The clock is ticking, the money is burning, and the circus manager gives Bethenny a good talking-to. Jim fashions a noose to illustrate what Bethenny is doing for herself. It's so nice that he's back.
Dawna is definitely more in charge, and she divides the tasks for the fashion show. Amanda and Howie are in charge of the fashion show, while Dawna and Sarah will handle the catering and setup. (No breakdancers - Sarah, that means you!) Amanda and Howie flounder while picking fashions, which is strange since Howie runs a fashion company. Perhaps his specialty is tee-shirts. Meanwhile, Dawna and Sarah are at the event venue to figure out the setup. Again, Dawna is capable, but one of the managers at the venue says, "I'm not getting the sense that she has an inspired vision." Well, at least she has a boring vision, which is more than can be said for Bethenny right now!
Dawna's big problem is that the team she hand-picked is failing her. That night, Howie decides to party like it's 1999. The clumsy drunk music plays yet again. Did he not hear about Ryan's fiasco? Dawna is upset at Howie for not taking the task more seriously, but I'd be more worried about Howie's fashion sense. While he's getting liquored up, he's wearing an ugly green sweatband on his head. That doesn't bode well for the outfits he picked for the fashion show.
Sure enough, the ugly green headband returns in the form of Howie and Amanda's clothing selections for the fashion show. In the morning, Dawna looks at the clothes, and she isn't happy. To make matters worse, a Liz Claiborne exec shows up angry because Amanda forgot to call her for the clothing evaluation. When models walk out in sample clothes, the outfits are a mishmash, and the Liz Claiborne exec gets a look on her face as if she has smelled something foul in the fridge.
The episode ends on an appropriate cliffhanger, with Bethenny and Dawna facing serious challenges before the live finale. Can we just have Jim back, please?