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The Apprentice- Week 5

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Sorry, guys. Nadine is out this week, so you'll have to settle for me today. But before I get started, I'd just like to say that doing a lap around Arthur Ashe Stadium in your underwear while Anna Kournikova laughs and points and John McEnroe* lobs tennis balls at your head sounds like the stuff of nightmares. More on that later.

In last night's episode, The Donald told the teams they would have to pick a product at QVC, set the price for it, and sell it on air. The team with the highest gross sales would win. Because the losing ladies were short-handed once again, Trump told them they would have a new teammate and project manager, someone he had grown to "respect": Pamela. (Why? Because she knew what creme fraiche was?)

When she was on the men's team, Pamela had a way of making the guys look feminine. From her first moment on the women's team, she treated them like a class of unruly first-graders that needed to be "whipped into shape." Before they'd had a chance to really talk, she started lecturing them about how she doesn't want to hear anyone complain that "that's not how we did it before. Obviously, what you were doing before wasn't f***ing working." Ivana complained that the downtrodden team needed a pep talk, not a lecture.

At QVC, the men chose an Italian panini grill to sell while the women went with a weird white sponge called It Works! that can apparently scrub crayon off of wallpaper and wood. Pricing their product was a big issue for both of the teams. In a cutaway, The Donald gave the viewers at home a lesson in economics. Something along the lines of, "If you price it too high people buy less, and if you price it less they buy more." Wow. Now we all know why he's the millionaire. Then, from the back of a limo, Trump was shown telling someone named Bill (Rancic, perhaps?) over a cell phone that if he failed his "ass is grass." Why anyone is vying to work for this man is beyond me.

Over at QVC, teams were struggling with price. Stacy R. said $19.99 might be good (for 30 sponges), but didn't feel confident about setting the price herself. After barking at her to pick a number and stick to it, Pamela set the number at around $30... way too much for sponges. The men's team had a similar discussion when Kelly insisted on $71 for the grill. He argued that if they pushed up the price a little, they could make a few more dollars on each sale. Raj very astutely argued that shoppers might have trouble crossing the mental threshold of $70, and that $69.99 might be more appealing. He was shot down by team leader, Chris.

When it came to setting up for the on-camera demonstration, the women's team had a few snags. Overall, I think one of the main problems is that the team is so used to losing that the ladies sometimes focus more on covering their backs for the boardroom than winning the task. Stacy went a little overboard with her task of handling the team's legal issues, but Pamela demeaned her entire contribution by gruffly chastising her attention to detail. Maria and Jennifer asked to be the on-air talent, and everyone seemed surprised when they turned on the cameras and Maria started awkwardly blinking and flailing her arms like she was drowning. It was decided that Jennifer should do the talking. (Duh!)

I felt very sorry for Maria when Elizabeth called to Ivana over the walkie-talkie, so loudly that everyone on set could hear, saying, "Tell Jennifer she was absolutely perfect. Pamela's coming down to talk to Maria. Don't let Maria say anything." Maria sat on the couch, clearly wounded. She had said earlier that public speaking was her strong suit. I was very impressed that she didn't pull an Elizabeth and burst into tears. The comment hurt her, but she swallowed her pride a bit and still went on camera and smiled and nodded. And she refrained from throwing a package of It Works! sponges at Pamela's head.

In the end, Jennifer did a good job demonstrating the sponge, but the price was just too high. The men were so-so on camera, but were blessed with a caller who called their product the best grill she'd ever used. Both teams sold more than $15,000 worth of merchandise, but the women lost by $10. Painful. Pamela was in shock.

For their 10-spot victory, the men were awarded a play date with Anna Kournikova and John McEnroe*. Playing doubles against those two, Andy, a tennis buff, was living out his childhood fantasies. Raj, on the other hand, attempted to live out a different kind of fantasy. He asked Anna Kournikova for a date. "What makes you think I would want to go on a date with you?" she said, laughing. She then challenged him to a game: if he could return one of five serves, she would go on a date. If he couldn't, he had to do a dare. As we all know, Kournikova isn't famous for her tennis abilities, so I thought Raj had a shot. But he failed miserably. And she made him run around the stadium in his undies while all of them laughed and hit tennis balls at him. This is what happens when you ask out Anna Kournikova. Consider yourself warned.

Back at Trump Tower, the women were ready for another trip to the boardroom. Sandy said Pamela should go for setting the price too high. (What was Sandy doing on this task, anyway?) In the end, Pamela dug her own grave by calling the outcome "a tie." That set George off, though he still said she was a good leader. Carolyn disagreed, saying Pamela was confident, but wrong. I think she was being nice. Pamela chose Stacy and Maria to go into the boardroom with her for reasons that didn't hold a lot of water. In the end, The Donald fired Pamela for setting the wrong price, and the women lost another teammate.

At this point, I am beginning to doubt if any of them can lead their team to a victory.

*Editor's Note: My apologies to Pete Sampras. Only I would confuse him with John McEnroe!

Last updated: Oct 8, 2004




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