What a perfect time to bring back Celebrity Apprentice! Oy, this economy! The glittery rich everywhere are tumbling and -- we hope -- reduced to doing yard work, dog walking or dishing out spuds in a cafeteria. If we can't see Bernie Madoff or the head of GM hawk crap on the streets, can't we at least have some clapped-out celebrities be their proxies? And for their boss: Who better than last century's hero, the unrepentant king of garish nouveau riche, Donald Trump?
Frankly, this year I don't know who half these so-called celebrities are -- really, being a briefcase-holder on Deal or No Deal makes you a celebrity? -- but whatever: We're all struggling, and network TV is free. All I needed to hear was Andrew Dice Clay was on board and I was there. Big-mouth-idiot + reality TV = lots of laughs.
The opening episode was a two-hour not-so-extravaganza that simply played up the least entertaining aspect of the Celebrity version of this show. It is not compelling television to film famous people calling other famous people to ask them to write checks.
We tune in to watch these has-beens get their hands dirty, get in squabbles and be humiliated. We want to see them have a workday that approximates our workday: Do something half-assed, then get yelled at by the boss, who's easily a bigger idiot. Blame somebody else, sulk and show up tomorrow to do it again.
The task for the celebrities was to make cupcakes and sell them for charity. Both teams managed to bollix up their cupcakes -- though with two professional chefs on hand, this was just mysterious. Cupcakes are pretty basic. Still, big-hearted celeb pals came through, writing four-figure checks for cupcakes made without sugar. That's what friends are for.
The other fun of the show is discovering which celebrities are huge tools, morons or smarter than you'd think. Last season's break-out was country singer Trace Adkins, who behind all his good-ol'-boy pone, was wickedly funny and smart about marketing. (I still say, "Wear 'em, share 'em," every time I see a pair of Crocs.)
The guys got off to a dumb start naming their team "KOTU" -- pronounced koh-TWO -- it stands for "Kings of the Universe." Yeah, maybe when you're 8.
It's early days yet, but making a good impression in the smarts category was the self-professed "working man" Jesse James, from one of those TV motorcycle shows. The lady poker champ has got some brains, but perhaps not the right team-player personality. Dennis Rodman is the shiftless, sulky has-been you'd expect (and doubly humorless), still trapped in his own bubble; Tom Green, the polite Canadian. I wasn't surprised to see Joan Rivers exhibit take-charge competency. She's been working for decades, and has made a lot of her own way in a tough biz.
Andrew Dice Clay. What is there to say? How pathetic it must be to be him. Either he is that deluded about his "fame" -- or he still trapped in that braggadocio shtick, decades after anybody cares. Either way, it's sad. But what can we expect from a "comic genius" whose every punchline was appending "...sucking my dick! Ho!" to random lines.
Anyway, he was the first casualty. No surprise -- his performance in the cupcake challenge was virtually nil -- but I thought the producers would keep him around, if only for the freak-show factor. Time for Rodman to step it up.