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It's Not Personal, It's Just Business – The Apprentice 2, Episode 1


by aurora

Welcome back to New York City! The Donald kicks things off by telling us that NYC is the benchmark for success. He brags a bit about the hundred or so companies he owns, along with various beauty pageants, golf courses, and of course, a TV show. Last year he hired Bill Rancic, who we see in action on the building project in Chicago. This year, Trump is looking for someone who’s smart, someone who’s a leader – he’s looking for…The Apprentice.

18 candidates have arrived in New York to be taken under Trump’s wing. Some are well-educated, others have only a high school diploma but have proven themselves to be entrepreneurs with a good head for business. We get a preview of the companies that are involved with the tasks this season – Mattel, Pepsi, Levi’s, Proctor and Gamble, and Toys’R'Us to name a few.

Jennifer M. is the first to arrive at Trump Tower. She’s an attorney, and admits to being intimidated and scared by the situation. Others soon follow, including Raj, who is dressed in a black suit jacket, red pants, white shirt, and bow tie. Andy comments that Raj looks like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, but admits to being impressed with Raj’s bowtie, calling it p-i-m-p. (Yes, he spelled it out.) Maria checks out the competition, and thinks that Bradford has ‘his stuff together’. Bradford, for his part, says that he was immediately sizing everyone up, surveying weaknesses. He picks out Pamela and likens her to Cruela DeVille, saying he knows he’ll be able to push her buttons.

Robin, the secretary, lets everyone into the boardroom. John’s pumped to be meeting one of ‘the most powerful businessmen in the world’. In the boardroom, they find Carolyn and George, Trump’s right-hands, waiting for them. Trump arrives and welcomes everyone. The Donald notices that the women are all smiling – they think they have it made because the women cleaned up in the first season, but he grounds them by saying it was a man who won. He found the dynamics so interesting last time that he’s going to use the same format this time – men versus women, 9 against 9. Trump also reveals a small new twist. If a team wins and they find themselves in the boardroom the following week, the winning project manager is exempt from being fired. He tells them to head up to the suite, he’ll see them tomorrow.

The suite is redecorated, but it’s still the same basic setup. Raj and Pamela introduce themselves to each other, and Raj admits being intimidated by Pamela’s height. They all find bottles of Dom Perignon and caviar waiting for them, and toast to victory. Wes toasts to the men dominating the women, not winning any likability points with the opposite sex.

The men and women eventually break off into groups, and read the letters left for them by Donald Trump. The letter welcomes them to the suite, and instructs them to each choose one person to permanently go to the opposing team and be their project manager for the first task. Bradford volunteers to go for the men’s team, and comments that there are MBA’s, Harvard grads, West Point men, and no one else wanted to step up to the plate. Bradford arrives at the women’s side, while the women are still trying to figure out who will go. Pamela decides she’ll go because she wants to lead the first project anyway.

Pamela arrives at the men’s side and says that her ‘penis is getting larger by the minute’. Rob says privately that he thinks the men came out on top. The men’s group throw out a couple of names for their team – Empire and Mosaic. Raj is really into the Empire name, but the vote goes to Mosaic. Privately, Raj calls it a fruity-toot name that says nothing about them. It’s antithetical to his character, and he doesn’t like it on a fundamental level. Raj is someone who we’re either going to love or hate – it’s too early to tell.

The women have a list of possible names longer than Trump’s list of companies he owns. Bradford looks like he’s going to go nuts with all of them talking, and Maria thinks he hasn’t had a lot of experience talking with a group of women. He says he likes Elite Corp., and says that’s the one. They end up voting on Apex though. The girls’ team, along with Bradford, jibe the heck out of Mosaic for their girly-sounding name. Raj comments that he’s getting his ass handed to him today.

It’s 6:30am, and the telephone rings. Everyone runs around like they don’t know where the phone is. The call is from Rona at Trump’s office, and the group is asked to meet with him at Toys’R'Us at 8am. The store itself is massive, complete with a ferris wheel. Trump asks for the team names, and comments that Mosaic is awful. Raj is decked out in another awesome suit, and even carries a cane. Trump doesn’t understand the cane as a fashion accessory, and says that Raj looks like he has two very good legs.

Time to find out what the task is. Trump explains that the toy industry makes over 20 billion dollars a year. Before he gets the apprentices working with adults, he’s going to have them working with children. Their task is to invent a new toy for Mattel, the largest toy manufacturers in the world. There are three judges representing Mattel, and of course George and Carolyn will work as Trump’s eyes and ears during the task. The two team have access to all of Mattel’s offices and facilities, and as Trump takes his leave, they head out to Mattel.

Mosaic Corp arrives first, and Pamela orders them all to take off their ties immediately, hoping to get them thinking like Mattel execs. The ideas start coming – a backpack water jet, a magnetic fish tank, and finally Andy throws out his crustacean action figure line, Crustacean Nation. The rest of the guys run with this idea, and come up with good guys vs. bad guys. Rob sits back and listens for most of the brainstorming, but finally chimes in with his idea to branch out to an electro-static eel. The other guys shoot the eel down immediately and carry on with the original plan.

Meanwhile, Apex Corp is also brainstorming ideas. Someone suggests a drag-queen wardrobe for an 8-year-old boy. Bradford draws a remote control football player who drives around and picks up footballs. He’s pumped about the idea, but the women aren’t into it. He asks for other ideas, and the women have plenty. He won’t have it though, and says no. “We’re going with the football idea. It’s my ass on the line, we’re going with my idea.” Maria says privately that if she had access to his jugular she would have taken him out right then and there.

The women’s team heads off to the developers to run Bradford’s football guy idea by them. They are told that the idea stinks – it wouldn’t fare so well on the market. Bradford then suggests an RC car that you can change the parts on. This goes over well and the women run with it. Privately Bradford says that it was his decision to go with a different idea because the original plan wasn’t finacially sound. Duh – dude, you’re going to have to eat a few humble pies if you want to stay in this game.

The men, meanwhile, have the prototypes of their action figures. They’re pretty excited about them. The women also get the prototypes of their cars, which they have to take into a focus group made up of four kids. The teams, the Mattel execs, and George and Carolyn all get to watch the action. The Metamorphors (RC cars) go over very well with the kids. They like that they can change the cars up, and really, what kid doesn’t like a remote controlled anything? They crash the cars into the walls with delight.

Crustacean Nation is then bought in for the focus group to evaluate. The kids take a look and start to play with the action figures, but they think they fall apart too easily and quickly get bored. Pamela says, “Who cut that kids’ hair? He looks like a mini Dumb and Dumber!”, which Carolyn reacts to with wide eyes and a look of complete shock. Only Chris seems to realize that they’re trying to make an impression on professionals who have devoted their lives to making toys for kids. Perhaps making fun of an 8-year-old’s haircut would be considered unprofessional in this setting. We’re 0 for 2 with tactful project managers so far.

Bradford and the women are enjoying lunch in one of the offices while waiting for the verdict. Stacie starts playing with a Magic 8-Ball and asks it if they won. The 8-ball says the outlook is good, and Stacie tries again. The others start talking amongst themselves, and Stacie loses it. She starts saying “excuse me, excuse me”, and asks them all why they’re being quiet towards her. She says privately that she felt they were all anti-Stacie. Then she starts asking everyone if they think they won, and suggests they all leave and claim their prize. The whole situation is a little weird, and it’s chalked up to Stacie being stressed out and buckling under pressure. Sandy says that Stacie will be the first one to leave their team.

At the Mattel offices, the teams are called in to join Carolyn, George, and the Mattel execs. One of the Mattel guys compliments both teams on their passion and creativity as Trump arrives. Mattel-man says that the action figures were a little like other toys on the market, and lacked oomph for the kids. The RC cars, on the other hand, could easily becaome part of their Tyco line, and the kids really enjoyed them. Trump asks if there was a clear winner, and Mattel-man says yes, Apex is the winner. Apex cheers as Trump tells them their reward is dinner at his house with him and his girlfriend. Bradford is now immune if the women end up in the boardroom next week. Mosaic Corp is headed for the boardroom tomorrow, where The Donald will say the two words he’s been waiting for a long time to say again – you’re fired.

Apex arrives at Trump’s home, and everyone is impressed with the grandeur of the place. John, at the suite, is very jealous of the women getting the chance to spend personal time with Trump outside the boardroom.

Over dinner, Jennifer C. quite obviously copies every move Trump makes, wanting to appear professional and classy. She says privately that she did it while keeping her cool and looking natural, but the clips we see are anything but. She looks like she’s considering stalking the man.

The Mosaics decide to bond over a game of basketball, while Pamela feels left out. She talks to the women as Andy eavesdrops. He tells one of the other guys that in the boardroom, he wants to hit Pamela over the head with a shovel. The men speculate over who Pamela will choose to stay behind with her in the boardroom. Rob is already preparing his comebacks, knowing that he’s a target. Andy thinks he’ll be targetted because he’s young, but watch out everyone – the reason he’s there is because he’s a great debater, and he’ll take anyone out in the boardroom. Andy honey, you underestimate Trump’s BS-detector.

In the boardroom, Trump asks Mosaic if they were impressed with Mattel. Pamela says right away that she thinks the Mattel folks weren’t on board with what their dossier said. Carolyn calls her out on blaming Mattel for their own failure. She adds that she doesn’t think Pamela understands children, and mentions Pamela’s comments during the focus group. When Trump hears that Pamela said someone had a bad haircut, he chimes in that he has a bad haircut himself. Trump is amazed that a group of men couldn’t come up with a great idea for a toy for little boys. George chimes in with the same sentiment.

Time for blame-placing. A lot of men think that Pamela didn’t assign any tasks and was a bad leader, while most of the others point fingers at Rob for not doing anything. Rob says he wasn’t utilized by the team leader – it’s not his fault. He wasn’t delegated a specific task. Andy blames Pamela for the loss, because a leader has the right to be defeated but never surprised. Andy is this season’s Sam – annoying as all get-out. The boys bicker back and forth, and Rob gets very defensive. Trump decides to give Pamela a choice – she can pick two or three people to stay in the boardroom with her. She wonders out loud what the benefit of taking three people would be, and Trump is surprised she has to ask that question. She decides to keep Andy and Rob with her, and the other men are sent back to the suite.

While the three potential bootees wait in the lobby, Trump asks for input from George and Carolyn. Carolyn says that although Pamela made obvious mistakes, she thinks that she is a good leader. George questions Rob’s lack of initiative. Trump nods and asks Robin to send Pamela, Rob, and Andy back in.

Trump notices that no one ‘grabbed’ Pamela’s chair, and says it’s not nice. He asks Pamela why she’s better than Andy – she says he’s too young and lacks experience. Why is she better than Rob? He’s a great salesperson and good motivator, but his depth of skills needs to be improved. Rob looks incredulous and again says the reason he didn’t do anything is because he wasn’t given anything to do. Andy says that he’s not here to compare resumes, he’s here to work hard and earn a job. He says he was the most successful and creative person on the team. Rob quips “He came up with the name – what else did he do?”

The Donald tells Pamela that she has a very hard edge which he doubts will disappear. Virtually everyone said that Rob didn’t participate – to do a job he shouldn’t need to be asked. Andy is a bit of a project for Trump – he’s really smart, but lacks experience. Trump is going to give Andy a chance, and tells Rob that he’s fired. Rob takes a minute to let this sink in, then says “It’s business”, and thanks Trump for the opportunity.

Pamela and Andy take the elevator up to the suite, as Rob goes down to the street. Trump comments that this was tough for him, and George says they have a good group of people. Carolyn adds that it’s going to be fun.

In the taxi ride from Trump Tower, Rob says that nothing is a coincedence and he accepts the decision. He’s disappointed to be let go first. He thinks that every person who is left needs to look at it like each visit to the boardroom could be their last, because as we can see, this was his last trip.

Comments are welcome! If you have something to say, or want to write for us, drop me a line at carrie@realityshack.com.


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