Riding Coattails: The Magnificent Seven

Watching the recap episode of The Apprentice last night gave me pause to reflect on what has transpired during this eventful season. I know that not everyone would agree with my choice to dub the season eventful, based on my conversations with coworkers and some informal Internet research. Some feel that the whole gimmick of Donald Trump and his dancing task monkeys is already dead. Others claim that the show offers up the same typecast characters (the evil bitch, the sexist pig, the hot chick, the loveable rookie) and the essentially the same types of task. But to those people, I implore, did you not get a kick out of Danny and his guitar? And what about the drama of Verna’s meltdown and subsequent departure from the show? Or the time when both teams lost on a task? Or Tana’s transformation from Iowa mom and Mary Kay saleswoman into a veejay MILF? And hello, how many times had you seen a clown chewing tobacco before Chris put a dip in at the mini golf challenge?

If those examples don’t convince the skeptics that the third season of The Apprentice doesn’t possess some TV firsts, then nothing will. In case it wasn’t already obvious, I’m a huge fan. In fact, I like this season better than the last one. You may ask, why is that? Well, it all comes down to the most important element of any reality show: casting. Now, I’m not knocking the contestants from last season, many of whom now honorably write for Inside Pulse. They’re all very impressive, accomplished inviduals and Raj was a riot. But the outcome of that season was so obvious from early on that the succession of firings were almost anticlimactic (although I was not expecting Ivana to drop her skirt on Wall Street). As soon as I saw Kelly Purdue, a straight-laced, overachieving military man, I knew he was the one Donald would pick. And personally, I thought he was a boring choice. So was Bill Rancic.

That’s not to say that this season hasn’t had a few predictable moments. As soon as I saw Danny sporting a ponytail to the boardroom, I knew he was going to be fired. Trump would never invite a man with a mane into his organization. And when Audrey launched into her many impassioned monologues on a variety of topics (toilets, the trauma of being beautiful, royal bitches, etc.), I knew there was a taxi on Fifth Avenue with her name on it. As for John and his offer to “sell” Stephanie and Erin in an effort to close a deal with a band in the charity auction task, I offer a quote from your ex-teammate (in reference to Michael, but appropriate nonetheless), “You are a pig-a-go-go.” I totally hated that ass gnome and was delighted to see him go.

At this point in season three, the nine candidates that remain are Erin, Kendra, Stephanie, Tana, Angie, Chris, Craig, Alex, and Bren. With the exceptions of Kendra and Alex, the remaining people are an eclectic group that I find intriguing to watch. I don’t have anything against Kendra and Alex, but they seem really normal and agreeable, two traits that do not bode well for reality TV. They’re just as worthy as the others, but they don’t deliver the kind of drama that keeps me glued to the screen. And here’s why I consider the others a truly magnificent group of seven:

Initially considered the wet blanket of Magna Corp, Stephanie has come around a bit. I liked the fact that she was sensitive to her team’s frustrations with her and even cried because she felt bad about it. It’s good to have a soul, although I’m not sure that Trump would agree. I fully believe that Stephanie would no longer be on the show had it not been for Michael’s stupidity in the board room, when he interrupted Bren, who was giving Stephanie a verbal reaming. And even though Michael was amusing, I think Stephanie’s a tougher, more worthy contender for the title of Apprentice.

This is a man of many moods. What else would explain the fact that he has a ‘fro one day and dreads the next? While the women experiment with curls, ponytails, and various updos, it’s rare to see a man who exercises his creative hair options. Danny made a half-assed attempt, but Craig does it better. And when he was wearing that Mikimoto crown, he looked smashing. He also won points for putting Audrey in her place (a metaphorical high chair, with a bib around her neck) during the graffiti task. I like Craig, and the fact that Tana also likes him ups the ante.

Since her turn as a street-talking MILF in the last challenge, I have a tremendous amount of respect for this woman. I think Tana stands a good chance of winning the whole thing. She has excellent people skills, a dynamic personality, and a great sense of humor. Her performances on all of the tasks have been solid. She was project manager on the trailer business challenge and handily brought a victory for Net Worth. And the fact that she is as comfortable chillin’ in Lil Jon’s crib as she is in the boardroom shows a wonderful versatility. You go, mama!

It’s no secret that the guy with the bow tie never wins. But that doesn’t mean he’s not entertaining to watch. Bren has been full of surprises, from his cucumber porn commercial to his fiery boardroom attacks. He can appease irate females and work the counter at Burger King. The supermodels totally dig him. And who can blame them? He’s cute, in that dorky sort of way.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Donald would never hire someone with hair this cool. Angie’s a real fireball when provoked and adds a great energy to the show. It was no surprise that Audrey idolized her and saw her as a mother figure. Unfortunately, I don’t think Angie quite measures up to some of the other players, like Tana, and in the end, I predict she’ll be taking that long cab ride back from whence she came.

A 22-year-old millionaire? Aside from pop stars, pro athletes, socialite heiresses, and actors, there are very few people that acquire such enormous wealth by this age. What is even more interesting is that young Chris closed his big real estate deals with a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth. And he has a girlfriend, too, which amazes me. Does she chew as well or is she just really tolerant of repulsive habits? Perhaps she has some equally nasty practice of her own, like booger eating, and she and Chris have made a compromise. I’d be interested to know.

It’s no secret that I love this girl. She rocks out to disco. She makes a slammin’ veejay. And
Gene Simmons liked her so much, he put his finger in her ear. Hire this one already, Donald!

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