Maybe I'm nuts, and maybe I'm the only person left in America still watching, but I'm going to come right out and say that this has been a great season to be an Apprentice fan.
It's been double the action for starters, with Martha Stewart's lighter-touched and homier designed spin-off on Wednesday nights (NBC) and Donald Trump's "You're Not Tough Enough For This Town, You're Fired" tough-as-nails variety holding down its usual Thursday night slot.
Allow me, if you will, to prove why Martha's edition was surprisingly effective and entertaining and then I'll get down to the nitty grit on the approaching finales of both Mark Burnett-produced editions.
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart serves as an unabashed effort to rehabilitate Stewart's post-lock up image and cram down our throats at all opportunities that Martha Stewart: The Brand is as kick ass and take names as they come. And it's a yummy brand too, we're assured! All of this, of course, is fine and to be expected. After four seasons of Donald Trump: The Water and Donald Trump: The Breast Pump (okay, one of those might be made up) we weary viewers are well attuned to the heavy handed mauling of cross-promotional product branding blitzkrieg. In fact, the incessant commercial-in-segment followed by actual-commercial-segment featuring the same exact product seemed to be somewhat toned down this season. Or maybe that's just the Digital Video Recorder talking, who knows?
While the opening credits of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart are syrupy cheese ("Sweet dreams are made of these," we get it!) and Martha herself occasionally a little over-scripted, the overall vibe of the show is lighter, airier, and often more fun than The Don's original. It's the little things, as a glossy Martha Stewart Living media product might advise, and I must say that Martha hits them all just right. The show's format has a looser feel to it, which allows Martha and her executive "helpers" (including Stewart's daughter, Alexis) to banter entertainingly about the Apprentice wannabes. Post-firing – which is a much more civil "you're just not a good fit" affair as compared to Donald's tense and tensely lit boardroom – the gang again has a good little chat about the state of affairs before Martha writes a note to the week's unfortunate send-off. I know I'm not the only one who became able at reading between the hand-written lines to discern the polite screw-offs from the genuine well wishes!