On Sunday night on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, show host Donald Trump fired not one, but two contestants in an episode that severely strayed from its mantra of, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.” Fortunately for World Series of Poker Champion Annie Duke, she was not among the two contestants fired as part of a boardroom bloodbath.
This week’s task was to create a viral video of up to one minute in length for All Small and Mighty laundry detergent. Prior to the task, the teams were reshuffled, notably splitting up Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa and setting the stage for a family feud. Executives from All told the two newly-formed teams that they would be judged on originality, buzz-worthiness, and branding. The winning Project Manager would receive $10,000 for the charity of their choice.
Duke, who told her teammates several weeks ago that she would be Project Manager on the next money-raising task, did not volunteer to lead. Instead, the new Athena chose Melissa Rivers to be Project Manager, while the new Kotu selected country music star Clint Black. R&B singer Brian McKnight was away at a concert during the episode and will be assigned to a team next week. The younger Rivers noted, “I have 15 years of producing live and taped videos.” Black has produced more than a dozen music videos for his country hits.
In Athena’s brainstorming session, Duke suggested midgets giving “Monster Garage” host Jesse James a bath, playing on the “small and mighty” brand name. She told her team, “There’s no one on Earth who wouldn’t open that video.” James declined the opportunity, prompting Duke to question the esteem she held for the West Coast Choppers CEO: “I’m really annoyed right now because there’s a really good idea floating around. I thought Jesse was really strong. I was really happy he was going to be on our team, but now I feel like he’s being a hindrance. I don’t like people who won’t step up.”
Black, meanwhile, chose to run with a dirty joke that used the phrase “do the laundry” as a metaphor for sex. The end of his vision entailed an actor saying, “It was a small load; I did it myself,” insinuating masturbation using All as a lubricant. Joan Rivers was against the idea from the start and was vocal throughout the episode of her distaste for Black and his idea. The elder Rivers threw out incomplete ideas, which Black was not appreciative of, instead deciding to pursue his original concept.
Duke was faced with convincing James to appear in the commercial. She immediately began researching the concept, telling NBC officials, “The first thing I did was show Jesse how many hits something with the word ‘midget’ in the title gets, which is a lot. It needs to be outrageous.” James finally agreed. Duke, who was adamant throughout the early part of the show that her idea was the correct one to film, was then sent by Melissa Rivers with TLC singer Tionne Watkins to collect props for the video. On her reasoning for sending Duke, Rivers commented, “I sent Annie because she can be pretty intense and I wanted to give Jesse a little breathing room away from her.”
Kotu’s hired actor struggled to deliver Black’s message and was dismissed, prompting the Project Manager to assume the role himself. However, the actor was a “little person” and Joan Rivers, LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis, and reality star Khloe Kardashian questioned the overall vision. Meanwhile, Melissa Rivers received a phone call from Duke about branding, prompting Rivers to roll her eyes and say, “I was glad that Annie went to get the costumes with Tionne because Annie believes that even if she’s not the leader, she at least tries to position herself as the puppet master.”
The rift between Black and Joan Rivers widened throughout the show. Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker returned from an obligation as a member of Kotu and, upon hearing what his team’s idea was, speculated, “I think Clint misses his wife,” actress and singer Lisa Hartman. Walker suggested adding in thought bubbles to spice up the video and make it flow better, an idea that was ultimately embraced in the final cut.
In the board room, Joan Rivers lashed out at Black: “I’m taking this very personally.” The talk show host and comedian vowed to discard her Clint Black CDs and stated she did not want to see the singer after the show. Upon the airing of Kotu’s video in the board room, Trump once again turned to Duke for objective commentary. On her opponents’ viral video, Duke commented, “I thought it was terrible. I didn’t understand it and it certainly wasn’t viral. It wasn’t pushing the edge.” Duke also noted that she represented All’s demographic perfectly. which was women over 25 years-old with children.
In the end, the executives from All disliked both team’s videos, leaving each Project Manager to select two team members to take back into the boardroom, where two contestants would be fired. Black selected Gulbis and Kardashian, while Melissa Rivers selected Playboy Playmate Brande Roderick and Watkins. Duke escaped the massacre that was about to unfold and is one of the nine contestants remaining.
Watkins told Melissa Rivers that she would return to the boardroom to support her Project Manager. In the end, the move proved fatal. Trump alluded to Bradford Cohen, an attorney who was fired during the second week of The Apprentice Season 2. Trump explained his significance: “He was the leader of the pack and was doing fantastically well and he volunteered to come back. He came back and I said, ‘You volunteered to come back, you’re fired.’ Never volunteer for execution.” Trump promptly fired Watkins and allowed Melissa Rivers and Roderick to return to their suite.
Instead of firing Black for his poor decision on the viral video’s content, Trump asked each person if they wanted to stay or return home and pursue other business endeavors. In the end, he lambasted Kardashian, who missed an episode of Celebrity Apprentice to attend to a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge in Los Angeles. Kardashian explained, “I have a DUI and I have to take classes in order for me to be here… I’ve taken full responsibility from the second I got it.”
Trump turned up the heat, chastising, “I hate people who drive under the influence. I know three families who lost children to drunken driving. If I had known you would have been missing time on the task for a DUI, you would have never been on the show.” Trump gave $20,000 to Kardashian’s charity, The Brent Shapiro Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Awareness, and fired her on the spot.
Celebrity Apprentice returns next Sunday at 9:00pm ET with two tasks in one episode. The preview features a spat between Joan Rivers and Duke that gets so heated, special backup is brought in. What that means remains to be seen.