The Celebrity Apprentice is back with a cast more akin to It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World than Barnum and Bailey’s three-ring circus. Actually, Season 4 of the star-studded reality romp plays more like a hybrid of the two with a pinch of Rocky Horror Picture Show thrown in for good measure.
Following in the career-enhancing footsteps of such reality fare as Dancing With the Stars and American Idol, this season boasts more than its share of name celebrities. There’s Oscar Winner Marlee Matlin (complete with her own sign language interpreter), Oscar nominee Gary Busey, Grammy winners Dionne Warwick and Meat Loaf, former teen idol David Cassidy, and supermodel Niki Taylor. Add Playboy centerfold Hope Dworaczyk, country crooner John Rich, rapper Lil Jon, author and baseball slugger Jose Canseco, Michael Jackson’s sister LaToya Jackson, former host of The View and current attorney Star Jones, reality housewife Nene Leakes, Harry Hamlin spouse Lisa Rinna, Survivor heavyweight and tax evader Richard Hatch, and Sugar Ray vocalist Mark McGrath to the mix for a season chock full of star power.
The higher star wattage may have something to do with celebrities such as Bret Michaels, Piers Morgan, Joan and Melissa Rivers, Curtis Stone, Holly Robinson Peete, and Sharon Osborne enjoying upticks in their careers, all of whom appeared in seasons past. I’m just happy to see so many familiar faces on a show I have followed since its debut.
Sunday night’s installment opened with a recap of the week before. The men and women were divided into two teams, Team Backbone and Team A.S.A.P., respectively. After the men lost the selling pizzas task, David Cassidy got the boot for rubbing Project Manager (PM) Richard Hatch the wrong way. He also wimped-out in the boardroom. Jose made no bones about wanting to punch Richard in the face, but refrained from making a scene in front of The Donald. Meanwhile, having raised over $169,000 — the most money ever raised on a first challenge — A.S.A.P. PM Star had the honor of transfering the gargantuan sum to her favorite charity, The American Heart Association.
The two teams briefly trash talked in the waiting room, then regrouped for their next task. Each received orders to create and write a children’s book to be performed for four and five-year-olds. Judging the task would be children’s book publisher Margery Cuyler and children’s book author and former contestant Holly Robinson Peete.
Meat happily agreedy to act as PM for the men while pouty Lisa reluctantly accepted the reins for the women. Later in the show, she admitted she wasn’t comfortable in the role, saying almost anyone on her team would have done a better job. “Does that signify weakness,” questioned Don Jr. in the boardroom. “No,” replied Lisa, “I just wanted to wait longer.” Poor stupid Lisa didn’t realize there are no brownie points for honesty. At least she had the sense to recognize a sorry lack of team support. Nene basically confirmed as much, privately confessing they chose Lisa because they knew she couldn’t handle it and wanted her out of the competition early.
Fits and starts in the creative process hampered each team. Jose tossled with John over semantics in their story rhyme, arguing certain words didn’t apply. Cursing ensued after Meat sent Gary and Jose to the wrong theater location, not once but twice. At one point, Jose looked as if his head might spontaneously burst into flames, but thankfully that didn’t happen. When the men went to pick out costumes, Gary flew off on some ridiculous tangent, taking a shine to some prisoner costume rather than appropriate little boy clothes for his character. John had difficulty focusing Gary and the men started to run out of time.