The Celebrity Apprentice has been one of the few shows that I’ve regularly kept out with throughout my time in Australia. I know it’s trashy and borderline rigged, but I still love Trump and his ridiculous antics and terrible haircut. But this season was missing a lot of the magic that previous seasons have had.
The problem with this season was not the cast itself, but the way things turned out. Names like Victoria Gotti, Lou Ferrigno, Adam Carolla, George Takei, and Penn Jilette should have provided much more entertainment than they actually did. Gotti, Carolla, and Takei all suffered early demises, though Carolla was the only one who lived up to expectations in his time on the show. Ferrigno assumed the role of “useless cast member who everyone wants gone” that Dennis Rodman, Rod Blagojevich, and Gary Busey have all held, but he did it without the fun that each of those guys brought. Lou and his relentless 110% grew old fairly quickly.
Other cast members like Aubrey O’Day and Lisa Lampenelli brought the drama, but it wasn’t funny. It was mean spirited and Aubrey showed no ability to engage ann enemy head to head. Instead she reserved insults for behind the scenes interviews. They might have been amusing, but not great television.
For the first time in the Apprentice’s five season history, I got the winner wrong. I thought Clay would wipe the floor with Arsenio, who essentially made it to the finals by never taking substantial risks. His two winning tasks were largely the result of his supporting team and he was never a real stand out player.
To be fair to Arsenio, Clay wasn’t the clear frontrunner. Season one winner Piers Morgan has been the only winner whose victory was pretty much decided before the final. But Clay was an MVP of his team in many tasks and beat him on fundraising in the final. I don’t think Arsenio’s party was undisputedly better than Clay’s was
The truth is, Trump picked Arsenio because of what he can do with his career resurgence. Trump knows that if Arsenio wins and gets a new talk show, The Donald will get all the credit. What exactly can Clay do with his newfound fame? He can’t go back to American Idol.
While Arsenio’s victory does not prove that there was a fix, this is hardly the first time this season that Trump has shown nepotism. Dee Snider and Penn Jilette saw firings that were completely ridiculous. Penn even noted in his exit interview that he knew the rules to chess but not for Celebrity Apprentice.
This season of Celebrity Apprentice was easily the worst. There were no stand out strong performers and there were plenty of weak links who made it too far into the competition. It’s not surprising to see that this season was the lowest rated one and Trump will have to pick a better cast and use less nepotism next season.