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Sept. 11, 2004

The Apprentice starts the season off with a bang

by Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
"You can go in now," the secretary says. Three nervous people enter the long, rectangular wood-paneled room and sit down in the elegant, high-backed wood chairs. They wait impatiently until a man speaks out, "Rob, you're fired."

The Apprentice is back.

In this go around of the "15 week job interview", some of the biggest companies in the world, like Mattel and Pepsi, have set out real-life tasks for the candidates to accomplish, making the show more exciting and gripping than ever before. The candidates range from recent graduates of top business schools to bridal salon owners and restaurateurs. As in last yearís show, the candidates split up into two teams, men and women. However, there are a couple of twists to the game. This year, the project manager of the winning team is exempt from being fired the next week, while the project manager of the losing team will have to enter the dreaded boardroom and fight with other under-performing members of the team for the chance to stay on one more week.

The show begins with Donald Trump showcasing the hustle and bustle of New York. Then, after a rather hurried look back at Bill Rancic, last year's Apprentice winner, the candidates file into Trump Tower. Everyone arrives in suits or business dresses; and then there's Raj. Waltzing into the waiting room with two-toned leather shoes, blazing red pants and a polka-dotted bowtie, he looks like a walking effigy from the fifties.

Later, as the candidates explore their lavish suite, complete with three putting greens and a basketball court, they receive their first assignment. Both the men's and women's team will have to send one of their members over to the other team to be project manager. Bradford from the men's team and Pamela from the women's team switch parties and assume control. The teams must decide a team name, and Bradford's group of girls chooses the somewhat masculine name Apex while Pamelaís team decides Mosaic. In an interview with the cameras, Raj (of the men's team) rails against the name, "I do not like our name, 'Mosaic Corporation.' I think it's a fruity-toot name. I think it says nothing."

The next day, the teams travel to Toys R' Us in Times Square to meet Trump. After hearing the men's team name, Trump says, "Wow, that's awful." And then the serious business starts.

The first task is to create a brand-new toy for Mattel, the world's largest toy manufacturer. After creating a prototype with Mattel's designers, the toy is to be tested on a focus group of children.

After many ideas are bandied about, Mosaic comes up with "Crustacean Nation", essentially a Mr. Potato Head with sea animals instead of a potato. Apex delivers "Metamorphor", a remote control car with interchangeable parts. After a focus group session with both toys, the obvious winner is Apex.

Then there's the usual reality T.V. tactic of showing the losing team fretful and nervous about their fate which gets old after you see it a hundred times.

Finally, Mosaic enters the boardroom, where team members await the Donald's decision. In a heated affair sickeningly similar to a group of savages turning on their own, Mosaic turns against Rob, claiming that he did nothing to help the team.

Inevitably, the last sentence of the show is spoken: "Rob, you're fired."

The Apprentice airs on NBC on Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. The Apprentice is produced by Mark Burnett in association with Trump Productions LLC. Mark Burnett, Donald Trump and Jay Bienstock are executive producers. Conrad Riggs and Kevin Harris are co-executive producers.

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  • dane (View Email) on September 11, 2004
    I loved the first season and looked forward to this season. I found your board room criticism to be a great help in my own professional career. This season too much time is being spent in the board room. A little more time was necessary then last season however the first episode spent far too much time in the board room. Iím looking forward to more career tip this season.

    Thanks for the tips,
  • Nicholas (View Email) on September 18, 2004
    I won't be watching anymore. Any "reality" that might have been left in "The Apprentice" is gone.
  • Heather on September 29, 2004
    The Apprentice is one of the most annoying shows the NBC network offers. The competitors on that show are supposedly "brilliant" but they are very pompous. If these people are so brilliant why don't they know basic group works skills. And don't even get me started on Trump's hair..... eesh. Well that was my rant on the Apprentice...... I hate reality television.
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