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DVD Review: The Apprentice – Season One

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Watching the current series of The Apprentice and The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, I got nostalgic about how the whole thing started, and filled my Netflix queue with the season one DVD set for The Apprentice. My, how things have changed — and how they’ve stayed the same.

First thing: for some unknown reason, the theme song of The Apprentice, “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays, has been replaced by a horrible, horrible bland techno-pop song that I not only cannot identify by title, but I have no idea who sings it. Or performs it. Whatever you want to call it, it’s just horrible.

Ah, season one. Who can forget Sam Solovey? And the great Omarosa concussion fake-out. The used car salesman charm of Troy McClain (and, I suppose, Nick Warnock). Harvard MBA Kwame Jackson. The blink-and-he’s gone first person fired, Dr. David Gould. Heidi Bresler, Omarosa’s nemesis. And the rest (you can look at the cast list here, with links to their web sites).

When you watch the first few episodes of the series, you’ll see how it was the women, not the men (including the eventual winner, Bill Rancic) who were kicking ass each week. The men were just battered for the first four or five episodes.

It’s interesting to watch the performance of Bill Rancic. Frankly, he just didn’t stand out much as a leader throughout most of the show, and only had a few wins as project manager. Yet somehow he managed to beat out Kwame who, in my opinion, was the better choice.

But on to this five-disc set. Discs one-four contain four episodes per disc with no extras. Disc five is two-hours worth of extras. I’ll get to disc five in a bit.

The Apprentice was created by the creator of Survivor, Mark Burnett. The concept: 16 “job applicants” endure a 13-week “job interview” in order to win a job with Donald Trump, as president of one of Trump’s businesses with a six-figure income (but only for one year, which isn’t really made apparent) and the chance to be Trump’s apprentice and, presumably, one day become a billionaire.

Reality show casting brings us the usual mix of contestants, with enough type “A” personalities to ensure plenty of wacky personality conflicts.

Along with Trump are two of his executives: Carolyn Kepcher and George Ross, who will be keeping an eye on the teams.

The series begins with the episode “Meet the Billionaire.” The teams are divided into men vs. women, and each team picks a “corporate” name: “Versacorp” for the men and “Protege” for the women. Their first task is to run a lemonade stand. The men, for unknown reasons, selected a location near a fish market to run their stand. In the end, the women won, and they continued to do so for the next several episodes. Episode two had the teams design an advertising campaign for the Marquis Jet Card, a service for busy executives to secure rides on corporate jets. Team Versacorp design a pretty good ad campaign, but are outshined by the women, who decide to turn a jet airplane into male genitalia through a series of suggestive photographs.

By episode five, Trump had to do a “corporate reshuffle” and mixed the teams up. Omarosa and Heidi (and everyone else, basically) continued to butt heads.

And so it went, until week 14, when the final four (Bill, Kwame, Amy and Nick) are interviewed by Trump’s execs. Nick and Amy are given the boot, and it’s down to Bill and Kwame. Bill’s task is to manage a golf tournament, while Kwame will manage a Jessica Simpson concert at Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. Complications ensue (including flat-out lying from Omarosa, back on Kwame’s team, who screws up the logistics for the Jessica Simpson concert) but, in the end, Bill wins, and his prize is to run the construction of a building in Chicago.

Disc five is the “bonus” disc, which is about two hours worth of boring features. There’s nothing particularly interesting to be found here, just interviews with Trump, George and Carolyn, as well as a few deleted scenes, audition tapes from the candidates (which was a weird decision to include, as some of the tapes clearly were third or fourth or fifth-generation copies and looked horrible). We also get a music video for that horrible new theme song.

Image quality is good, and is presented in full frame. For audio, you get basic Dolby 2.0, which is fine, but not great. There are no commentary tracks, which is unbelievable, really.

Recommended.

*** out of ****
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