After last season's painful finale, I was ready to write off the Donald. But, as I mentioned in my last Apprentice blog, I was intrigued by the concept of pitting book smarts against street smarts. I tuned in last night with a mix of apprehension and hopefulness and, so far, I'm impressed. This season's characters seem much less homogenous and, thus, much more interesting.

Of course, Danny is the standout weirdo. A mix of Stacie J., Raj, and Sam, he's a loveable but annoying holdover from the dot-com days. At first, I thought his enthusiasm was admirable and entertaining, but when he pulled out the guitar, he surpassed the acceptable limits of cheesiness. If he's going to survive, he must counteract his wackiness with great ideas and skill, which, judging from last night, isn't likely to happen.

Still, I'm glad Danny didn't get fired. Although he's a loose cannon and his marketing gimmick was low-rent and ridiculous, he did manage to get customers into the store. He dresses fine, by the way. Why was everyone analyzing his clothes? At any rate, his failure was just one part of the problem. The other part was the dearth of trained cashiers. Sure, that mistake was technically Alex's fault. But, since Alex and Danny were equally to blame, the clear choice was Todd for not correcting their bad decsisions.

So far, I'm definitely rooting for the "street smarts" team. Their marketing idea was simple yet fun. Who doesn't like cowboy costumes? The airline ticket giveaway was OK, but seemed like a bit of an afterthought. (Though the scene in the travel agent's apartment was pretty hysterical!) As far as the Net Worth team members go, Tana seems annoying and Brian needs to tone down his foul language. Even the Donald was wincing when Brian cursed during the dinner at the 21 Club. And the Donald isn't exactly the most refined gentleman.

Other than that, I haven't formed much of an opinion of the other players. One thought: Erin made a big mistake in the boardroom last night when she said that nobody listened to her. Carolyn's just going to tell her that she needs to be more assertive. A bit of gossip: I read in the New York Post today that "street smart" Tara actually went to the University of Virginia and was spotted by shocked classmates on the show. Apparently, according to an NBC representative, she never received a diploma. Hmmm.

Hopefully the Donald will come up with some more interesting challenges this season. I'm tired of the old "create a new flavor of X and sell it" routine. That said, I have a feeling that this season might be more entertaining than the last one. Until next week!