The first episode of The Celebrity Apprentice was better than I thought it would be, arguably the best episode of the show in several seasons. I give most of the credit to the two stars of the episode, first season veteran/villain Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth and aging rock god Gene Simmons. Viewers knew exactly what to expect of both, so there was none of the awkwardness of exposition here. And bringing the show back to New York, where it hasn't been since the spring of 2006, was a help as well.
Thirteen celebrities, fourteen if you include Omarosa, were brought together to compete for the charities of their choice. Donald Trump met his celebrity candidates at the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trump divided the teams into male and female sides, and told them they would have to pick a project manager. Omarosa immediately announced she wanted to lead first. Nely Galan issued caps to help brand her team, which took the name Empresario. The male team immediately coalesced around Simmons, who came up with the name Hydra. Empresario agreed to go along with Omarosa as its first project manager, and Stephen Baldwin was the first head of Hydra.
The first task: sell hot dogs on the streets of New York, and whoever sold the most would win. Trump reminded them that he expected celebrities to have no trouble selling, and that picking the right location was paramount. Carol Alt, who lives in New York, suggested a site near Penn Station. Omarosa did not seem eager to have her team use its star power to sell, which upset Tiffany Fallon (yeah, I hadn't heard of her either -- she's a Playmate, apparently). Hydra kicked around the notion that the hot dogs were incidental: they could charge an exorbitant amount for the dogs if autographs and photos were tossed in. Simmons started calling friends and asked them all to show up to buy "hot dogs" for charity for thousands of dollars. Once they got started on the task, Empresario began to realize that they too could charge extra if they mentioned charity was involved. Soon, they were collecting hundreds at a time.
Trump showed up with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Hydra was set up at their location, but things looked less busy. Piers Morgan was obnoxious and irritated potential customers. Hydra finally started to pick it up as the lunch crowd arrived. Over at Empresario, Omarosa was still irritated by Tiffany Fallon. Marilu Henner pulled out her phone and called some rich friends of her own, one of whom gave her $5000 for a bottle of water. Jenna Jameson arrived at the Hydra site to support her boyfriend, Tito Ortiz. Hydra's high rollers finally showed up, but back at Empresario, David Wright of the New York Mets dropped by at the behest of softball player Jennie Finch and bought the entire cart, giving away the last of the dogs.
Back in the boardroom, Empresario reported a take of $17,000, but Hydra pulled in over $52,000. Trump said he felt the men used their celebrity status better and had the superior location. Morgan said his team immediately realized Omarosa was the weak link on Empresario, which infuriated her. Donald Jr. wondered why the women didn't use their sex appeal more, and Omarosa reminded him that she and her colleagues were criticized for that during the first Apprentice season. Trump said all the money raised on this task would go to Baldwin's charity, a fund for breast cancer research. Hydra returned to their quarters and watched on the big screen as Empresario's members defended themselves in the boardroom. Omarosa singled out Marilu and Nely as standout performers, and cited Tiffany as someone who refused to step up and use her sex appeal.
Trump wondered why Tiffany hadn't called on her biggest celebrity contact, Hugh Hefner; Tiffany said she wanted to save Hefner for later in the season. The members of Empresario brought up the fact that Omarosa had wanted to downplay the celebrity factor, which Trump believed was a mistake. However, the other members sensed Tiffany was wounded prey and said she showed no leadership. Carol Alt was brought up for criticism on the charge that she picked the location. Carol said that Omarosa was too complacent, and Omarosa came back with a fierce attack. Omarosa told Trump she thought Tiffany had potential and that Carol should go. Trump said he liked Tiffany but was upset about the Hefner oversight, and fired her. I never expected Donald Trump would get rid of the Playmate in the first show. Who broke the news to Gene Simmons? [Screen Rant]
Denise had an enormous backyard without pizzazz. She wanted a yard that was well-landscaped enough that she could use it for entertaining, but lacked the spare time to work on it herself. Carter planned to paint the concrete fence, install a pond, and put in a fire pit with benches and a new dining area. Two decks would be put in, one for a grill and one to serve as a social area. The fence was painted orange with the help of Denise's high school basketball team. Denise helped Carter with the building of the decks, whooping with joy when she used the saw and getting startled by the nail gun. A designer was brought in to create drapes to place around the decks.
Digging commenced for the fire pit and the pond. The furniture being used for the decks had been recycled out of old milk jugs. Paving stones were used to lead from the pond and fire pit to the decks. Planks on the decks were made from reclaimed wood and plastic. An old beverage tub was turned into a torch for the decks. Denise was sent away so she could be surprised by the final stages. Awnings were installed, and some new plants were brought in to jazz up a yard that once only had grass. Denise was brought to tears by the finished product, as well she should have been -- it looked like a totally different property. Carter was especially happy that so much recycled material was used in the construction.
Mike and Tammy met while working together at a restaurant. Tammy is now a dancer/actress, and Mike runs a club. The wedding they had been planning was running behind schedule, so enter Jane Dayus-Hinch. Mike was hung over for his first meeting with Jane, and Tammy was running late for that meeting. Mike said the guest list was between 250 and 325 people, with a budget of about $50,000. Jane was stunned that their planning was so haphazard, and was even more stunned when Tammy finally showed up, drunk. Jane told them, in her politest way, to shape up. Jane found that Mike and Tammy hadn't planned even the barest details of their ceremony. Mike found the photographer he had casually been counting on had made other plans. Jane told Mike that if his entertainment was bad, his friends in the club business would never let him forget it. She informed the couple their partying needed to end for the time being.
Mike informed Jane the photographer was gone, so booking one became their first wish. Jane set up appointments, but Mike was too busy to make them. Jane was increasingly frustrated by Tammy's awesome stupidity. Mike finally showed up for a meeting and liked one of the photographers, but still didn't want to sign a contract, which is how they got in trouble originally. Tammy panicked while trying to order flowers, so she asked Jane to do it: the second wish. Jane was upset that Tammy refused to make even small decisions without running them past Mike. Jane was again kept waiting by her bride and groom, this time at the florist's office. Under Jane's prodding, Mike finally allowed Tammy to make a decision on her own, about the flowers. When it came time to pick up the rings, they didn't fit. Tammy rushed off to a fitting with her bridesmaids, and the dresses didn't fit either. At the wedding rehearsal, the couple got a call from their piano player who was canceling. Jane was again in disbelief that the couple once again made a deal with no written contract. The third wish, thus, became to find a pianist.
On the wedding morning, Tammy also got a cancellation from her makeup artist. Mike was the last person in the groom's party to get dressed, but downed some booze to get him inspired. The service went off surprisingly well, but Jane was still worried about whether her pianist would show up at the reception hall. She arrived at the hall to see no seating plan and no emcee. The pianist finally did arrive, just before the guests, who were all given a shot of booze and meatballs on a stick. Jane pronounced it a fabulous day, but only because she was there. It's not bragging if it's true.
How Do They Do It?
A factory in Sweden pioneered the modern paper carton, which permits storing for months at a time. How can a paper container store a liquid for this long? The process starts with trees, the source of paper. The trees are harvested by modern machinery, cleaned of bark, and then fed into a huge kettle where the wood is boiled. The wood pulp is washed and the fibers are meshed together into a rough paper. Some of the pulp is bleached, and the white paper then bonds to the brown. Rolls of paper are then sent to the container factory. The paper is sent through the machines that imprint the design of the company on it, and then given sealing and formed into their containers. The cartons then have to be sterilized in order to be suitable for milk.
Next, we learned about how a house can be built in a week. A German couple wanted their home in a week, and a prefab house from Hufhaus was their answer. The design was pure German utilitarianism. The company has the ability to tweak each design slightly. Step one is the production of the beams that form the structure. The beams are fitted with wall panels and are glazed for insulation. Piping tunnels for cables and plumbing are then installed. The pieces are then transported to the site of the eventual home. All sections of the house are numbered and cross-referenced with the building plans. Cranes hoist walls and beams into place, with continual checking to see if everything is aligning correctly. The whole ground floor is finished in one day. By the third day, the roof is going in, and in five days all is done and the new owners are walking inside their home. The last step is putting in electricity and plumbing.
Finally, there was a look at the modern high-tech ambulance. UV Modular builds ambulances in Yorkshire. A Mercedes chassis is used, and everything found in a modern emergency room has to fit inside. The body has to be both lightweight and sturdy. Massive amounts of electrical cable are installed -- 6 miles of cable fit just one vehicle. Pipes carry heat, air conditioning, and oxygen. PVC sheeting creates a hygienic surface. The back of the ambulance is fitted with a pneumatic ramp that can lift 770 pounds. The medical equipment goes in last. The finished product is taken to a test track to make sure it can handle the high speeds it will endure. One ambulance takes about 100 hours to complete and costs around $250,000.
Neela was visited by a friend who was avoiding an arranged marriage at home. Pratt interviewed for the job of ER chief, but Anspaugh was worried about his lack of leadership skills. Pratt angrily said he wasn't being respected and gave his two weeks' notice. A woman who was a veteran of Iraq was brought in after an accident at a department store. The injured woman found out she was pregnant, which was a problem since the baby was eight weeks along and she had only been back from Iraq for two. Neela introduced her friend to Harold, who hyperventilated in his lust.
A boy named Carlos was brought in after passing out at school, and he was discovered to be taking drugs for HIV. His mother was located: former ER staffer Jeanie Boulet (Gloria Reuben), who dropped in to find almost no one she remembered. Boulet wanted someone other than Pratt on the case, not realizing he was about the most experienced doctor there. The Iraq veteran told her angry boyfriend that the pregnancy was the result of a rape by her sergeant, but the husband didn't believe the story. Morris was frantic in trying to keep Pratt from leaving for another job, but got distracted by Neela's friend, who he sweet-talked away from Harold. Pratt said he had a solid offer from Northwestern, but a sympathetic member of the hospital board tried to persuade him not to give up at County so easily.
The CT scan on Boulet's son showed a lesion consistent with the onset of full-blown AIDS. Pratt blew up at Wexler for picking up the CT results without calling him ahead of time. Boulet, herself HIV-positive, was depressed about Carlos's AIDS diagnosis, and Pratt tried to reassure her about the latest treatments. Wexler told Sam she was out of line for alluding to her rape while talking to the soldier. Carlos fell unconscious as his mother and Pratt were explaining the situation to him; he was stabilized and sent to the operating room. Now reconciled with her boyfriend, the pregnant soldier said she wanted to keep her baby as a means of not going back to Iraq. The doctors and the boyfriend urged her to at least report the rape. Boulet was depressed waiting for the biopsy results, thinking that all the hopefulness she had tried to impart over the years was a lie, but Pratt gave her reassurance. Afterwards, Pratt made a phone call and said he was staying after all. [AdRants]
Justine couldn't motivate herself to go exercise with Run, and continued to worry about what she ate. Run told Diggy he had to get mentally prepared for the first day of school. After failing on one of the kids' video games, Run spoke up for the virtues of old school games like Centipede. Run told Jojo he should think about getting a position with his uncle, mogul Russell Simmons. Jojo went in to see Russell, who wasn't happy to hear that his nephew hadn't read his book yet. Russell told Jojo things had been too easy for him so far. Run put his foot down when he saw Justine making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but was pleased when a moving van came by delivering a vintage video game. Russell introduced Jojo to Kevin, an executive at Phat Farm, and told him not to fail. Kevin gave Jojo the most menial duties imaginable, most of them involving Kevin's dog. Justine complained to Angela that Run made her feel inadequate with his diet monitoring. Run began playing his video game, intriguing the younger boys who wanted their own chance. Kevin put Jojo on notice that his work was unsatisfactory. Justine told Run he was letting the boys avoid homework so they could fool around with the video game. Jojo told his father that he was being given demeaning duties at Phat Farm, and Run suggested he talk it over with Russell, who was telling Kevin to be even harder with Jojo as a means of instilling a work ethic. Kevin harangued Jojo some more about the way he was folding shirts. Jojo told Russell about his dissatisfaction, but Russell said that Kevin had himself been a great intern and was now trying to get him to work a little bit. Justine got advice on foods that were both fun to eat and healthy, and then blew up again at the way the video game was monopolizing the boys' time. She said Run should refrain from playing until after the kids did their homework. Run asked Jojo about the job, and Jojo said Russell was the one behind the tough treatment. Jojo said he now knew how the real world worked. Justine told Run the two of them were sending mixed messages to the boys about the video games. Justine told Run she was dreaming of Twinkies now.