Jan 16, 2020
Celebrity Apprentice RECAP: Rudy vs. The Mustache (S14:E1)
Celebrity Apprentice, the show with the most phallic opening shot in all of television, is back for another season. In the season 14 premiere, Keisha Knight Pulliam (a.k.a. Rudy Huxtable) faces off against mustache man Geraldo Rivera to see who can bake the best pies… and make the most dough.
Opening credits roll. We are treated to multiple views of Trump Tower…
…and the Donald’s promise that, this year, it’s going to be “bigger than ever before.” (Well it’s certainly long. The season premiere clocks in at an hour and a half. Jury’s still out on the girth, though.)
The contestants have been divided into a men’s team and a women’s team. Trump lines the teams up so he can explain their task. Since it’s freezing outside, annoying-voiced comedian Gilbert Godfried, technically a member of the men’s team, asks if it’s totally necessary to have this discussion while standing on the street.
Dr. Trump takes the opportunity to explain to everyone how science works. He asks Gilbert if he believes in global warming, and when Gilbert says he does, the Donald says, “And yet, you’re freezing your ass off.” Booyah, apparently.
Then, Trump explains the task. Unsurprisingly, it’s a fundraiser, so the task is to get a bunch of rich people to make donations. Nominally, however, the teams will be making and selling pies for Pie Face.
The teams have their first meetings to decide on team names and pick project managers. The women’s team considers several names, including “Trojan Horse,” suggested by Keisha Knight Pulliam because of “how they kind of Trojan Horsed in,” whatever that means, but eventually settles on “Infinity.” As for project manager, no one wants the job, so everyone takes a metaphorical step back, leaving Keisha standing there saying, “I guess I’ll do.” Overall, not an auspicious start.
Speaking of Keisha Knight Pulliam, she is referred to as “America’s Sweetheart” throughout this episode, but I’m not sure America has really thought about her in 30 or so years. Anyway, she used to play Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show, but now she’s all grown up.
Over on the men’s team, talk show host turned war correspondent Geraldo Rivera insists on the team name “Vortex” and steps up to be project manager.
Strategy-wise, both teams decide to tweet their way to the top, using social media to bring in pie buyers, as well as having everyone call their celebrity friends to ask for donations. For Team Infinity, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, the youngest of the ladies, heads up the social media efforts. For Team Vortex, Kevin Jonas, a pop star with “4.3 million Twitter followers” takes the lead.
The groups meet with their advisors to further refine their goals. The advisor for the women’s team, former Celebrity Apprentice winner Piers Morgan, tells them that in order to win, every team member will need to have a clearly defined role, be willing to be ruthless, and focus on bringing in large donations. The advisor for the men’s team, the Donald’s daughter Ivanka, says nothing of value. However, during her visit, Deadliest Catch star Sig Hansen, who has probably spent too much time on a crab boat with other men, notes that she is “very beautiful.”
Also during Ivanka’s visit, Kevin Jonas hastens to tell her that Geraldo is too much of an alpha male, the first of approximately 4.3 million naysaying comments about the project manager he will utter during this episode.
It’s time to get down to business, and Team Infinity totally ignores their advisor’s advice. Rather than worrying too much about securing big donors, they focus on… making pies. Each team is supposed to make a savory pie and a sweet pie. For the savory one, the ladies end up doing something spicy and ill-defined, which sounds way more fun than it is. They can’t decide whether to do a taco pie or an enchilada pie, but as Keisha says, it doesn’t matter since “they’re both Mexican.”
As for the sweet pie, the ladies initially can’t decide between pear and blueberry, but Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson comes up with the brilliant idea of making a pear AND blueberry pie. Duh. Mother of eight Kate Gosselin takes over the kitchen since, as she notes, she “cooks three meals for nine people every single day.” Later and without irony, she’ll talk about delegating tasks to her multiple domestic servants.
Meanwhile, at Team Vortex, project manager Geraldo gets to work on the phone, making 30-plus calls to ask for donations, Gilbert tries to line up some street entertainment for outside the pie shop on the big day, Kevin tweets his heart out, and the rest of the guys stumble around in the kitchen. Soap star Lorenzo Lamas, in particular, is worried that pie-making is not his strong suit. “Women cook. That’s what they do,” he says.
It seems that Sig did not set the oven timer, because he burns the first batch of crusts for the chocolate/vanilla ice box pies. The men decide to throw away the worst of the crusts but to keep the ones that are only sort of burnt. For the savory option, Team Vortex attempts a low calorie chicken pot pie. They decorate the tops of the pies to look like Geraldo’s face.
The day of the big pie sale arrives. Keisha is starting to worry that maybe she hasn’t paid enough attention to money-making. She is frantically trying to bring in donors at the last minute. Real Housewives star Kenya Moore pointedly asks her if she has asked Bill Cosby for a donation.
Keisha says she has not asked him, instead asking people who live in New York and are in a position to physically drop by the pie shop with a check. When Kenya points out that celebrities typically have people that can do things for them, Keisha clams up and won’t discuss it further. (I’m not sure when this episode was filmed, but it seems to me that Bill Cosby is probably preoccupied with matters other than pie right now.)
Both teams have long lines when the pie shops open up. Gilbert is keeping the street crowd entertained with performers from his stable of weirdos, including a fire-eater, a Howard Stern look-alike, and this person here:
Team Infinity and Team Vortex both sell the heck out of some pies, as well as racking up big donations at $5,000 and $10,000 a pop. Cake boss Buddy Valastro stops by both shops to taste the pies. Whichever team he judges to have the best-tasting pies will receive a bonus to add to their total earnings.
Here are Buddy’s tasting notes:
- The taco/enchilada pie has too many competing flavors, perhaps because no one is sure whether it is supposed to be taco or enchilada-flavored
- The chicken pot pie needs more salt
- The icebox pie has a burnt crust (Did it seriously not occur to the men’s team to serve the judge the single best/least burnt sample of this type of pie?)
- The blueberry/pear pie is actually pretty good
The day ends and it’s time to go to the boardroom to see which team brought in the most money and determine who gets fired. In discussion with the women’s team, it comes out that Kate didn’t bring in any donations. It seems that a donor she had lined up failed to show up with the check. A few of Keisha’s donors failed to come through, too. Still, Kate gets praise for working hard in the kitchen and doing a lot of the actual baking. Shawn says she doesn’t think their team won because she’s pretty sure the guys brought in more money, and Kenya says Keisha should have done a better job of delegating tasks and emphasizing fund-raising.
Things seem more positive on the men’s side. Geraldo is confident that his team won. There’s quite a bit of praise all around. The only negativity is about Lorenzo only bringing in “about a hundred dollars” and, of course, Kevin slamming Geraldo for not knowing exactly how much each team member raised.
The winner of the $25,000 bonus for best-tasting pie is… the women’s team because, again, “Women cook. That’s what they do.” This brings the women’s total earnings to $93,862. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but the men made almost twice as much, with a total of $185, 322. Team Vortex wins, and Geraldo’s charity, Life’s WORC, gets the money.
Since this show is supposed to be all about charity, the Donald asks Geraldo to talk about the organization. It turns out to have something to do with helping people with developmental disabilities, but I don’t know what, because Trump cuts him off mid-sentence. The men are dismissed. They can go drink champagne and watch the women suffer from a remote location.
Since Team Infinity lost, project manager Keisha has to pick two other team members who did not perform well. One of the three of them will be fired. Keisha chooses Kate and Jamie, who brought in very little money in donations. There is no way the Donald is going to fire Jamie, who came up with the recipe for the only pie that tasted any good, or Kate, who did the majority of the baking, so Keisha gets the axe.
Still, Trump will give her charity $25,000 out of his own pocket, and the chance to talk it up on television. Keisha was playing for Kamp Kizzy, but I have no idea what they do because the Donald cuts her off almost immediately. Roll credits.