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Buckle Up! New Celebrity Apprentice Cast Announced

Buckle Up! New Celebrity Apprentice Cast Announced

Today 5:30 AM PST by

NATALIE FINN

At least whatever sanity is lost is charity's gain.

Donald Trump and NBC have unveiled the latest crop of (if not A-listers, then at least folks who are on some list or other) famous types who will compete for cash for their favorite charities and—if all goes according to plan—start judging and hating on one another right from the get-go on the fifth installment of Celebrity Apprentice.

Here's the run-down on the 18 [feel free to insert your own Trumpian superlative] stars along for the ride:

Clay Aiken, 32: Pop star, father, second-season runner-up on American Idol

Marco Andretti, 24: IndyCar series driver and scion of the great Andretti racing family is the youngest member of the Celebrity Apprentice cast this season. Father is Michael Andretti and his grandfather is racing legend Mario Andretti.

Tia Carrere, 44: Musician and actress perhaps best known for playing Mike Myers' girlfriend in Wayne's World. A former Dancing With the Stars contestant, she's done the reality thing before.

Adam Carolla, 47: Former Man Show funny guy, who also appeared on Dancing With the Stars and used to cohost Love Line with Dr. Drew Pinsky, now hosts a pretty darn successful podcast based in L.A.

Lou Ferrigno, 59: Actor and bodybuilder who played the titular green guy on TV's The Incredible Hulk.

Deborah Gibson, 41: The pop singer formerly known as Debbie Gibson made a big splash in the 1980s with Electric Youth.

Teresa Giudice, 39: Outspoken star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, perhaps best known for flipping a table.

Victoria Gotti, 48: Author of several books and former star of Growing Up Gotti is the daughter of late NYC crime boss John Gotti. She's not to be confused with her mother, who's also Victoria.

Arsenio Hall, 55: Former late-night host and

Eddie Murphy's costar in Coming to America and Harlem Nights, had an entire generation going "whoop-whoop-whoop" while pumping their fists in a circular motion.

Penn Jillette, 56: Comedian and illusionist is a fixture on the Vegas stage with silent partner Teller.

Lisa Lampanelli, 50: Raunchy, racy comedian and frequent roaster for Comedy Central.

Dayana Mendoza, 25: The singer and Venezuelan TV personality was crowned Miss Universe in 2008.

Aubrey O'Day, 27: Singer and former member of Diddy-tailored girl group Danity Kane.

Dee Snider, 56: Twisted Sister frontman who helped out last season's winner, John Rich, with his final challenge, a retro 7 Up commercial.

George Takei, 74: Actor and gay rights activist played Sulu on Star Trek and is a favored guest of The Howard Stern Show. He's the oldest contestant on the show this season.

Paul Teutul, Sr, 62: Motorcycle designer and star of the Discovery Channel's reality hit American Chopper, which lasted six seasons.

Cheryl Tiegs, 64: Actress and former supermodel.

Patricia Velásquez, 40: Venezuelan model and actress from The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. She also played Will Arnett's girlfriend Marta on Arrested Development.

The fifth season of Celebrity Apprentice will premiere within the next few months.

So, are you super-psyched to watch this play out? Share your thoughts on Trump's latest group of combatants in the comments section!

Read more: http://www.eonline.c...3#ixzz1iUyDSzk0

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people.com

Teresa Giudice vs. Victoria Gotti: New Celebrity Apprentice Cast Revealed

Teresa Giudice vs. Victoria Gotti: New Celebrity Apprentice Cast Revealed

BY TIM NUDD

Wednesday January 04, 2012 09:45 AM EST

Would Teresa Giudice have the guts to flip a table on Victoria Gotti? Can supermodel Cheryl Tiegs outlast former Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, who is four decades her junior? Who'll face the music first – Clay Aiken or Debbie Gibson?

Those are just a few of the mouth-watering matchups expected on the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice, premiering Feb. 12 on NBC. PEOPLE confirmed several of the contestants back in October, but the cast was officially revealed Wednesday.

"I just think we have a major group of celebrities, and we have a very iconic group," says the show's host, Donald Trump. "This is the best cast we've ever had, the biggest cast, and it's going to be special."

Rounding out the group of 18 are former Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno, singers Aubrey O'Day and Tia Carrere, model Patricia Velasquez, comedians Lisa Lampanelli, Arsenio Hall and Adam Carolla, George Takei (Star Trek), magician Penn Jillette, Paul Teutul Sr. (American Chopper), racecar driver Michael Andretti and rocker Dee Snider.

"We've never seen such a smart and funny group as this year's lineup of celebrities," executive producer Mark Burnett said of the upcoming season.

Trump joked on Wednesday's Today show that, in light of her background (her father was Mob boss John Gotti), it might be difficult telling Victoria Gotti, "You're fired!"

This article was originally posted earlier in the day with the headline: "Clay Aiken vs. Victoria Gotti: New Celebrity Apprentice Cast Revealed" with this picture attached:

CelebrityApprenticepublicity2.jpg

________

nbc.com

Celebrity Apprentice Cast Bio: Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken joins "The Celebrity Apprentice" seven years after launching his career journey on "American Idol." After winning over millions of viewers with his phenomenal voice and down-home charm, Aiken parlayed his success into full-fledged stardom. He has sold more than six million copies worldwide of his four albums: the double-platinum "Measure of a Man" (featuring the hits "Invisible" and "This Is the Night"), 2004's platinum holiday CD "Merry Christmas with Love," 2006's gold-certified "A Thousand Different Ways" and 2008's "On My Way Here" - all of which debuted in the Top 5 on the Billboard chart.

Aiken has never sounded more at home than he does singing the lushly arranged classics on his fifth studio album "Tried and True," the international pop phenomenon's first album for Decca Records. The bulk of the album, which showcases Aiken's powerful tenor voice and considerable interpretive gifts, is made up of songs from the '50s and '60s that Aiken grew up listening to as a child in Raleigh, North Carolina. For Aiken, "Tried and True" was about getting back to himself after a career performing more pop-oriented material.

In addition, Aiken has launched nine live tours, made the New York Times best-seller list by co-authoring the inspirational memoir "Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life," executive produced and starred in his first TV special, "A Clay Aiken Christmas," and won several American Music and Billboard Music Awards - all while donating a significant amount of his time to such charities as his own foundation, National Inclusion Project and acting as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

In January 2008, Aiken made his Broadway debut in the role of Sir Robin in the Tony Award-winning musical "Monty Python's Spamalot." While admitting Broadway is a challenge he'd love to tackle again, Aiken considers the small screen his second home and has made numerous television appearances as both guest and host. He was a correspondent for "The Insider" for the 2005 Emmy Awards, co-hosted "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet" and "Live with Regis and Kelly," both in 2006, appeared on the sitcom "Ed" (2004) and legendary soaps "All My Children" (2005) and "Days of Our Lives" (2006). He also made guest appearances on "Scrubs" (2006) and "30 Rock" (2009).

Aiken's whole world changed in 2008 when he became a father for the first time with the birth of his son, Parker.

TheApprenticeNBCOfficialSite.png

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And the Newest "Celebrity Apprentice" Contestants Are...

And the newest 'Celebrity Apprentice' contestants are...

By Randee Dawn

Donald Trump may not have wanted to get into a discussion about whether he'll jump back into the presidential race with TODAY's Matt Lauer, but he was thrilled to have a chance to introduce the cast of the fifth installment of "Celebrity Apprentice" Wednesday morning.

The cast, which Trump called "the biggest we've ever had" is as follows:

  • Clay Aiken ("American Idol" runner up, pop star)
  • Michael Andretti (IndyCar race car driver)
  • Teresa Giudice ("The Real Housewives of New Jersey")
  • Victoria Gotti ("Growing Up Gotti")
  • Lisa Lampanelli (comedienne)
  • Dayna Mendoza (former Miss Universe)
  • Dee Snyder (rock musician)
  • Paul Teutul, Sr. ("American Chopper")
  • Arsenio Hall (talk show host, comedian)
  • Adam Carolla (radio host)
  • Lou Ferrigno (bodybuilder, "Incredible Hulk" TV actor)
  • Penn Jillette (magician, comedian)
  • George Takei ("Star Trek" actor)
  • Cheryl Tiegs (supermodel)
  • Debbie Gibson (pop star)
  • Tia Carrere (actress, singer)
  • Aubrey O'Day (singer, "Making the Band")
  • Patricia Velásquez (model)

Several of the contestants were in the studio for the announcement, and Lauer spoke to them and Trump, who said he can't even consider jumping back into the political race until the show ends in May.

With three episodes already taped, Lauer wondered how quickly a take-no-prisoners attitude emerged from amongst the candidates.

"I think we were all surprised, because having been in corporate America most of my life -- since I'm 15 -- you think that this is two-thirds of that," said Gotti. "It's not. You see sides of people that you didn't see getting to know each other for three days. All of a sudden, the take no prisoners, you can't imagine."

"We have some very, very competitive people, and really smart people," said Trump.

But just how far would they go to win? Apparently, cozying up to their "boss" isn't out of the question. When asked how many contestants would be happy to see Trump as President, everyone raised their hands.

"Shameless!" cried Lauer.

"I think he'd be a great husband!" shot back Lampanelli.

"The Celebrity Apprentice" premieres Feb. 12 on NBC.

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"Apprentice" Celeb Clay Aiken Respected Trump, Not Cowell

]

'Apprentice' celeb Clay Aiken respected Trump, not Cowell

By Randee Dawn

The familiar faces set to appear on the upcoming season of "Celebrity Apprentice" come from all professions and walks of life, but a handful may have a particular advantage: Namely, they've been on reality shows before. Teresa Guidice is on "Real Housewives of New Jersey," Victoria Gotti on "Growing Up Gotti" and Paul Teutul Sr. has "American Chopper."

But there is only one "American Idol" finalist – Clay Aiken, who was runner-up on that show's second season. And now, having faced off with two of the toughest characters in reality TV, he can offer his take on what it's like to stand in judgment before both Donald Trump and Simon Cowell.

Let's just say that Cowell has been Trumped.

"Being in front of Trump is more intimidating than (being in front of Cowell)," Aiken told TODAY.com in an interview. "That's because you realize his success is real outside of TV. Whereas with Cowell, I don't deny him his value – but singing is not his expertise."

Respect played a big factor in preferring Trump over Cowell, said Aiken. "I had a Spanish teacher in high school. I rarely got in trouble in her room because I felt I was disappointing her if I got a bad grade. That had more power over me than teachers who told me I talked too much. That level of respect I had for her made me not want to fail for her. I never had that feeling with Cowell -- but I had it with Trump."

Yes, said Aiken, "I expected meanness from Simon, because I felt Simon's job was to be rough and brutal, and therefore it didn't matter as much what he said to me."

But with Trump, he didn't feel as though the businessman was "trying to torch each contestant to find all the things they did wrong. I really wanted to be the one person he liked, the one person who he thought, 'Well, he's not stupid.'"

Still, it's more complex than just preferring one man's style over another. Aiken knows he can sing, but working for Donald Trump was definitely outside his wheelhouse. "Singing I can do, and if Simon didn't like it then I wouldn't be like, 'I can't sing!' With Trump, it's not my expertise, and it is his, and so therefore I have a little more respect for him because I realize I've got to work harder."

And work hard he did … but harder than on "Idol"? Absolutely, he said.

"Being on this show in general was 10 times harder than 'Idol.' Hands down."

"The Celebrity Apprentice" premieres Feb. 12 on NBC.

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Celebrity Apprentice: Handicapping the Odds of Winning

CelebrityApprentice: Handicapping the odds of winning

Thursday, January 5,2012 - TV Den by Gayle Falkenthal

SAN DIEGO, January 5,2012 - Donald Trump mayhave political aspirations, but he knows where his bread and butter is.

Wednesday Trump announced the cast of the upcoming edition of "Celebrity Apprentice," which premieres February 12 on NBC. It will be hard to out-crazy the previous season which included epic scenes between Nene Leaks ("Real Housewives ofAtlanta") and Star Jones, and the off the charts Gary Busey and surprisingly emotional Meat Loaf.

While other media are content to simply reveal the list, at the Communities we're willing to go out on a limb and publish our pre-season odds as to the eventual winner.

We determined our odds on the following criteria, based on previous seasons and the characteristics common to previous winners.

1. Celebrities needs to be thick skinned.

Part of the fun of the show for the viewers and for Trump is encouraging the celebrity participants to trash talk each other, and call out the weaker performing members of each team.Celebrities who want to be "nice" and refuse to call out the underperforming members of the team are seen as weak by Trump and set themselves up to be "fired" from the show. Team members who are willing to throw each other under the bus when it's warranted tend to fare better. Likewise, they have to be able to take it as well as dish it out. Last season this is what killed David Cassidy, Nene Leaks, and Dionne Warwick.

2. Celebrities need to play well with others.

While the celebrities compete as individuals, in the process they are working in teams and taking turns being project leaders. Every time a celeb takes the role of team leader, they put themselves on the line to earn big money for their charity if they are successful, or put their head on the chopping block to get fired if they lose. So the celebrities need to be able to motivate their competitors and fellow team members to perform well and work hard on their behalf. You tick someone off, you kill their motivation to pull their weight on your behalf.

3. Celebrities need tobe well-connected to rich friends willing to write checks.

Many of the challenges on Celebrity Apprentice involve raising money. If you are able to make calls to your well-heeled friends and get them to write big checks, you're going to win every time. Apparently country music stars have friends who are extremely generous, hence the good showings by people like previous winner John Rich and runner-up Trace Atkins. Same applies to past winner Piers Morgan and Joan Rivers. Yet another musician who fared surprisingly well was hairband singer and winner Bret Michaels.

But Latoya Jackson wasn't able to convert the Jackson family connections, otherwise she would have gone a lot further in the game.

Comedians have also shown a tendency to be generous. Will a comedian win season 5?

So, Communitiesoddsmakers (OK, this columnist) offer the following:

Penn Jillette, 56, magician. Charity: Opportunity Village. Odds: 2-1

Jillette has a strong personality and a thick hide, but seems like he's the kind of guy that can get along with others to keep a lot of balls in the air, which takes someone who can direct others and still be a congenial guy. He's been at the helm of a long running successful act in Las Vegas. He's the only Vegas based celebrity on the show, which could yield some serious money. In my view he's the the guy to beat.

Arsenio Hall, 55, talk show host/comedian. Charity: Magic Johnson Federation. Odds: 5-2

Hall is well liked and for a decade he was the talk show you wanted to show up on to prove you were hip and happening. (See: Bill Clinton and his saxophone). He's well-liked and knows how to steer clean of drama. But are his connections too stale to yield the right money? This is why he stands behind Gillette.

Dee Snider, 56, rockstar. Charity: March of Dimes/Bikers for Babies. Odds: 3-1

Snider has appeared on the show in previous seasons helping out other contestants. Trump likes him and rock stars who can generate cash often do well. He's sure to be less emotional than the lip-quivering Meat Loaf, and maybe a little less wacky than Bret Michaels. But don't knock Bret's approach - he did win after all. Snider will brush off slights and insults no problem. He could be formidable.

Michael Andretti, 49,race car driver. Charity: Racing for Cancer. Odds: 7-2

If Andretti can tap into big time Indy Car and NASCAR money, he could go a long way. Racing sponsors know the value of sinking money into high profile sponsorships, including donations on a show like "Celebrity Apprentice." He has leadership skills thanks to serving as chairman and CEO of Andretti Autosport, where he runs twofull-time driver programs in the IndyCar series and is the most winning team owner in IndyCar history. Guys like this are highly competitive, too.

Lisa Lampenelli, 50,comedian. Charity: Gay Men's Health Crisis. Odds: 4-1

Comedians can be surprisingly generous. If Lampenelli can tap into this, it will help her overcome her seemingly abrasive personality. She'll be able to take it, but if she dishes it out too much she'll have trouble getting along with her fellow team members.

Cheryl Tiegs, 64,supermodel. Charity: The Farrah Fawcett Foundation. Odds: 5-1

Has Tiegs kept in touch with the supermodel world she helped to create? Will her industry friends come through for her? Will her fragile model ego hold up? Tiegs has managed her own career well through the years, and if she can apply those lessons to the show she'll hang in there.

Debbie Gibson, 41, popsinger. Charity: Children International. Odds: 6-1

Gibson is the youngest performer ever to write and record a number one song. Being a teen music staris a rough way to make money. Laugh all you want at her "You Light Up MyLife" legacy, but she has continued to get good reviews performing on the musical theatre stage. She also seems to be exceptionally motivated by the charity she's playing for. Within an hour of the cast announcement, Gibson's charity issued a news release announcing Gibson's connection to the charity. She has been a supporter of the U.S. based humanitarian organization since1991.

Victoria Gotti, 48, mobboss daughter. Charity: Assocation to Benefit Children. Odds: 7-1

Mob tough, mob smart, mob money. Two out of three isn't bad. She'll fascinate her fellow teammembers. She's a former reality TV star, entrepreneur and writer. This one could be the surprise of the season... or she could crash and burn.

Clay Aiken, 32, AmericanIdol runner-up. Charity: The National Inclusion Project. Odds: 8-1

Aiken has already put himself on the toughest public stage there is, "American Idol." He's heard every negative criticism there is. In interviews when the cast was announced, he admitted he might be "the crazy one" in the cast this year. If he can keep his fellow contestants off balance and tap into the Idol machine for some dough, he could hang in there longer than expected.

George Takei, 74, actor.Charity: Japanse American National Museum. Odds: 9-1

Takei is a cult figure and a favorite of hipsters thanks to his legacy on "Star Trek." But can he tap into this? This is a tough call. Still, anyone who's managed to keep his career afloat on a series that hasn't been on the air for nearly 40 years is a wily guy.

Adam Carolla, 47,comedian. Charity: Big Brothers Big Sisters. Odds: 10-1

Carolla is a reality TV show veteran, although "Dancing With The Stars" doesn't exactly compare to "Celebrity Apprentice." He won't be seen as a threat, he'll likely get along with the rest of the team and if he can tap his comedian network, they are pretty good about writing checks. But he doesn't seem to have the fire it takes to make it all the way into the finals.

Lou Ferrigno, 59,Incredible Hulk actor. Charity: Muscular Dystrophy Association. Odds: 12-1

It takes ambition and determination to become a professional bodybuilder, and even more to turn that into a successful career in Hollywood. Arnold did it, and Lou Ferrigno did it. He will work hard and he won't take comments personallly. But does he have the connections to help him in the fundraising challenges? This will be his Achilles heel.

Dayana Mendoza, 25,former Miss Universe. Charity: Latino Commission on AIDS. Odds: 14-1

It takes some discipline to get yourself to the top of the beauty pageant circuit, but it's unlikely Mendoza will have the connections to make herself useful, and fellow female contestants tend not to like their beauty queen sisters. She will survive under the radar for a while and Trump will keep her around for several weeks at least unless she ticks him off for some reason.

Tia Carrere, 44,actress, model, and singer. Charity: After-School All Stars. Odds: 14-1

The "Wayne'sWorld" hottie has demonstrated some entrepeneural spirit as a film and music producer. She may have organizational skills, but she'll face the usual problems of not having too many connections in New York to lean on for help and funds.

Teresa Giudice, 39,"Real Housewives of New Jersey." Charity: Teresa Guidice. Odds: 15-1

Those Real Housewives are tough and resourceful. But in the end they tend to be too combative to make it to the final rounds.

Aubrey O'Day, 27,singer. Charity: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Odds: 16-1

A reality TV show veteran discovered by Sean "Diddy" Combs who starred in the MTV series "Making the Band," O'Day knows what it's like to have your every move and and comment end up on the air. She also knows what it's like to be fired on the air. But she hasn't done a lot since, pursuing a"solo" career, modeling and getting herself on various"hot" lists. She's attractive and resilient, but that will only get her so far.

Patricia Velasquez, 40,model. Charity: Wayuu Taya Foundation. Odds: 18-1

She's a bit actress who sells hair care products on a home shopping channel. Seriously?

Paul Teutul Sr., 62,("American Chopper"). Charity: Make-A-Wish Foundation. Odds: 20-1

Teutel is known for his hair trigger temper and he won't tolerate the least bit of pushback from any team members. I doubt he has the connections to generate much dough. He's not pretty enough for Trump to keep around to entertain him. And he is sure to insult Ivanka Trump. He's toast.

The celebrities will be subject to long hours, grueling deadlines, intellectual challenges, personality clashes, and intense scrutiny under the careful watch of Donald Trump and his advisors, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump. Last season, "Celebrity Apprentice" raised a record amount for the contestants' charities, donating over $3.1million to charity.

A word of advice: don't underestimate or insult Ivanka, or you are so out of there.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal,APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California, and a former broadcast producer, reporter and talk showhost. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The WashingtonTimes. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

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CBS News::Celebrity Circuit

Clay Aiken's National Inclusion Project to benefit from his "Celebrity Apprentice" appearance

(CBS) "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken will be competing in the coming season of "Celebrity Apprentice" to raise money for his National Inclusion Project, a charity he started to help kids with disabilities be mainstreamed in programs for children.

North Carolina native Aiken told local TV stations and newspapers about his stint on the show, saying there was "a very eclectic group of people at the board room table."

Singer-songwriter Debbie Gibson, another "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant, told CBSNews.com that she was playing for the charity Children International.

"Children International is fortunate to have such a dedicated supporter as Debbie Gibson," said president and CEO Jim Cook. "She has proven she is an ardent advocate for children living in the most extreme poverty."

Children International helps to provide 5,000 poor children in India with medical and dental care and educational support. Established in 1936, it is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo.

Aiken's foundation recently benefited from a Champions Gala that raised more than $500,000 from the 500 people who attended the event in downtown Raleigh.

January 5, 2012 12:24 PM

Highlight Hollywood

Trump Announces Cast Of NBC’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ Highlight Hollywood Predicts Clay Aiken As The Winner

It’s that time of year again when Donald Trump makes an announcement. No, not that he’s running for President. That occurs at least once a week, even on Wednesday morning “Today Show” host Matt Lauer reminded the Donald, that the only chatter about him running for President seems to be coming from him, not political circles. Score one for Matt Lauer. No, the announcement Trump made was naming the new cast of his hit series “Celebrity Apprentice.” This year “American Idol” great Clay Aiken led the list of celebrities that are expected to vie for the top spot and the winning dough, and the highly rated NBC show will be the second reason in the past two months why Donald Trump won’t sacrifice his time to save us all by running for the Presidency! Please!

Well, other names that are given for the cast include Teresa Giudice, Victoria Gotti, supermodel Cheryl Tieges, former Miss Universe Dayna Mendoza, 1980s pop singing icon Debbie Gibson, our friend and Santa Monica resident Lou Ferrigno, singers Tia Carrere and Aubrey O’Day, model Patricia Velasquez, comedians Lisa Lampanelli, Arseno Hall and Adam Carolla, “Star Trek” star George Takei, magician Penn Jillette, “American Chopper” star Paul Teutul, Sr., racecar driver Michael Andretti and rocker Dee Snider.

“We’ve never seen such a smart and funny group as this year’s lineup of celebrities,” said show creator and executive producer Mark Burnett. Arsenio Hall however seems already intimidated by at least one of his competitors. No, not “The Hulk” star and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno. “I am not sure I want to go up against anyone with the last name Gotti,” the comedian tells Highlight Hollywood. “I may have to take that name [Gotti] out of my standup gig if things don’t work out here for me.”

Trump joked on Wednesday’s Today show that, in light of her background (her father was Mob boss John Gotti), it might be difficult telling Victoria Gotti, “You’re fired!” Please! Donald Trump calls the President a fraud, a Kenyan citizen and a wimp on a daily basis. He holds the nuclear briefcases, and Trump challenges him. I think Ms. Gotti is going to be a pussycat after his gumption in the past. Then again, she may make the Donald an offer he can’t refuse!

My vote goes for “American Idol” star Clay Aiken to win! Don’t ask why, just my gut feeling. But when it comes to Donald Trump, who the hell knows!

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

January 05, 2012

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Official NBC "Celebrity Apprentice" page:

Clay Aiken bio

Clay Aiken joins "The Celebrity Apprentice" seven years after launching his career journey on "American Idol." After winning over millions of viewers with his phenomenal voice and down-home charm, Aiken parlayed his success into full-fledged stardom. He has sold more than six million copies worldwide of his four albums: the double-platinum "Measure of a Man" (featuring the hits "Invisible" and "This Is the Night"), 2004's platinum holiday CD "Merry Christmas with Love," 2006's gold-certified "A Thousand Different Ways" and 2008's "On My Way Here" - all of which debuted in the Top 5 on the Billboard chart.

Aiken has never sounded more at home than he does singing the lushly arranged classics on his fifth studio album "Tried and True," the international pop phenomenon's first album for Decca Records. The bulk of the album, which showcases Aiken's powerful tenor voice and considerable interpretive gifts, is made up of songs from the '50s and '60s that Aiken grew up listening to as a child in Raleigh, North Carolina. For Aiken, "Tried and True" was about getting back to himself after a career performing more pop-oriented material.

In addition, Aiken has launched nine live tours, made the New York Times best-seller list by co-authoring the inspirational memoir "Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life," executive produced and starred in his first TV special, "A Clay Aiken Christmas," and won several American Music and Billboard Music Awards - all while donating a significant amount of his time to such charities as his own foundation, National Inclusion Project and acting as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

In January 2008, Aiken made his Broadway debut in the role of Sir Robin in the Tony Award-winning musical "Monty Python's Spamalot." While admitting Broadway is a challenge he'd love to tackle again, Aiken considers the small screen his second home and has made numerous television appearances as both guest and host. He was a correspondent for "The Insider" for the 2005 Emmy Awards, co-hosted "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet" and "Live with Regis and Kelly," both in 2006, appeared on the sitcom "Ed" (2004) and legendary soaps "All My Children" (2005) and "Days of Our Lives" (2006). He also made guest appearances on "Scrubs" (2006) and "30 Rock" (2009).

Aiken's whole world changed in 2008 when he became a father for the first time with the birth of his son, Parker.

_____

National Inclusion Project

Before Clay Aiken became a music superstar, he worked at a summer camp and was disappointed when he saw that disabled children were not allowed to participate in many of the programs. So Clay eventually helped start National Inclusion Project, which works with schools and summer camps to help create a curriculum and programs that integrate kids with and without disabilities. The National Inclusion Project partners with different organizations, trains their staff and makes sure that their programs are more inclusive for children of all types. Clay is excited at the opportunity to put his charity on the map and to stand up for kids who are frequently on the sidelines.

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Decca Records

Clay Aiken Remains Steadfast

ALBUM AVAILABLE MARCH 29TH ON DECCA ON HEELS OF AIKEN'S ROLE ON

NBC'S "THE CELEBRITY APPRENTICE," PREMIERING FEBRUARY 19TH

COLLECTION FEATURES NEW ORIGINAL SINGLE, "BRING BACK MY LOVE"

Clay Aiken treats fans to a newly packaged collection of heartfelt songs with Steadfast, to be released March 29th on Decca. Steadfast revisits the best of 2010's releaseTried and True, featuring selected cuts from that record alongside a newly recorded, original song/radio single, "Bring Back My Love." Rounding out the disc are thoughtful covers of Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," and Connie Francis', "Who's Sorry Now." Steadfast arrives on the heels of Clay's appearance as a contestant on the upcoming season of NBC's hit show, "The Celebrity Apprentice," premiering February 19th.

Steadfast is an extension of the journey Clay Aiken began in 2010 when he chose to record some of his all-time favorite songs from the '50s and '60s that he grew up listening to as a child. His emotional connection with the music remained so strong he felt compelled to return to the recordings again and highlight the tracks he was most proud of, including the iconic "Unchained Melody,""Moon River," featuring Vince Gill on guitar and Perry Como's "It's Impossible" to name a few. "These musical gems have stood the test of time, and I am incredibly proud and privileged to have had the opportunity to make them my own," Aiken explains. "I stand by this recording 'steadfastly,' which is why I chose the title and how I feel about moving forward in my career in general – being focused and steadfast" he says.

In revisiting these meaningful interpretations Clay was also inspired to record a completely original, new song that could stand up to the classics. "Bring Back My Love," captures the spirit of the older classics while reinforcing his commitment to a more traditional sound best suited to his own personal style. Overall,Steadfast again demonstrates Aiken's considerable talents, notably flawless vocals delivered with passion and sincerity.

Aiken launched his career journey seven years ago on "American Idol," where he won over millions of viewers with his phenomenal voice and down-home charm. He parlayed his success into full-fledged stardom, selling more than six million copies worldwide of his previous four albums, all of which debuted in the Top 5 on the Billboard chart. In addition, Aiken has launched nine live tours, made The New York Timesbest-seller list by co-authoring the inspirational memoir "Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music In Your Life," and won several American Music and Billboard Music Awards — all while donating a significant amount of his time to such charities as his own foundation, National Inclusion Project and acting as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. In January 2008, Aiken made his Broadway debut in the role of Sir Robin in the Tony Award-winning musical Monty Python's "Spamalot."

www.clayaiken.com www.deccarecords.com 2/9/2012

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Clay Aiken Says Marriage Amendment Goes "Way Too Far"

Clay Aiken says marriage amendment goes 'way too far'

Posted: 9:13 p.m. today

Updated: 32 minutes ago

Former "American Idol" contestant Clay Aiken is proud of his home state, but not of the proposed amendment to the North Carolina constitution that would ban same-sex marriages.

He spoke out about the amendment in a video posted to YouTube Monday.

"Families looks different. They have always looked different. You have single-parent families, families with parents of different races, families with parents of different religions," he said in the video. "No matter what we want a family to look like, we can't put into a constitution – a document that is supposed to protect our rights – one narrow definition."

Aiken, who appeared on "American Idol" in 2003 and announced he was gay in 2008, was featured in the video for the group Protect All N.C. Families.

The amendment, which will appear on May's primary ballot, would define marriage as being between one man and one woman and outlaw civil unions.

Aiken, who has a son with longtime friend Jaymes Foster, said it would ultimately hurt the children of non-traditional families.

"I think an amendment like this goes way too far," he said. "It will take away protections from kids who, right now, may have access to healthcare because one of their parents has healthcare at work."

Raleigh pastor Dr. Patrick L. Wooden, who appeared on Saturday's "On the Record" program, said the Bible defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

"We just believe that the definition should be redefined in the state of North Carolina," he said.

North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast without a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman, but same-sex marriage is against the law already.

Wooden said that giving the Bible's definition of marriage constitutional protection is the "will of the people."

An Elon University poll published in September, however, found that 56 percent of North Carolina residents oppose the amendment.

The only way protect marriage, Wooden said, is to get out and vote on May 8.

"I just hope that those of us who are in favor of the amendment don't assume that it's a done deal or a slam dunk and we stay home and wake up the next morning shocked," he said. "Get out and vote and allow your votes to be heard."

Reporter: Tara Lynn

Photographer: Mark Simpson

Web Editor: Bridget Whelan

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Donald Trump: "Apprentice" Clay Aiken is Tough, Nasty

Donald Trump: 'Apprentice' Clay Aiken is tough, nasty

By Ree Hines

It's almost time for another round of feuds, fundraisers and firings -- in other words, a new season "The Celebrity Apprentice" -- and it's going to be huge, according to boardroom boss Donald Trump. That's partly because, with 18 celebs competing, this is biggest cast ever the show has ever seen. And given just how big some of those 18 personalities are, that's really something.

On Thursday morning, Trump visited TODAY to give fans an idea of what to expect from those famous faces and just what the stars need to do to make it on the show.

The qualities required to go all the way include "toughness, intelligence," and above all else, Trump wants to see "cunning." Those were the all-important traits for past winners like Joan Rivers and Piers Morgan, and he already sees it in certain stars this time.

"I have to tell you, they're all really good," Trump assured TODAY host Matt Lauer before revealing his top picks. "Arsenio Hall is terrific.... Clay Aiken is totally different than I thought. I figured he wasn't going to be that strong of a player. He's a really strong player. Great singer, but he's a tough guy, and he's nasty. You wouldn't think it."

Also tough and nasty are Victori Gotti and "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice -- at least they seem so because Trump admitted, "I'm afraid to fire either one of them.... They may go all the way."

However the season plays out, there's one thing the boss is certain of: It'll be a success. That's because there's on key factor that his show has that none of its imitators can offer.

"Well, we've had ... 14 copies of the 'Apprentice' and every one of them failed almost immediately, and this works. I assume it's because of Trump," he laughed.

The new season of "The Celebrity Apprentice" premieres Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Rolling Stone Introduces the 2012 Cast of Celebrity Apprentice

Clay Aiken

Age: 33

Claim To Fame: The doe-eyed North Carolina-native welled America's hearts with his beatific balladry on Season Two of American Idol. (He ultimately took second-place to Southern big-boy Ruben Studdard). Aiken has since released six full-length albums, performed on Broadway and after coming out as openly gay in 2008, has become an outspoken activist for gay rights.

What To Expect: Don't let the fact that he sings like a mermaid misguide you; if preview clips are any indication, this ginger-topped crooner's got some bite behind that boyish charm. How he matches up with The Donald, however, might be a different story.

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11 Signs This Will Be Celebrity Apprentice's Funniest, Most Ridiculous Season Ever

11 Signs This Will Be Celebrity Apprentice's Funniest, Most Ridiculous Season Ever

Feb 17, 2012 06:16 PM ET

by Lindsay Silberman

Watching celebrities be forced to do "normal people" things like selling hot dogs, or working as hotel employees is inherently funny. But when you throw in a few hilarious comedians and B-listers that have inflated perceptions of their own notoriety — as they have on this season's Celebrity Apprentice — it almost guarantees viewers will be laughing the whole way through. After watching a sneak peek of the Sunday premiere (9/8c, NBC), we narrowed down a list of examples that prove this season of Celebrity Apprentice will be the funniest, most ridiculous one to date:

1. Arsenio Hall puts the competition into perspective - "I ran into Ruben Studdard at an NAACP meeting and he said 'Brother, don't be the first black man to lose to Clay.'"

2. Adam Corolla's first world problems - His charity? White Kids Without iPads (or so he says).

3. It's all about the branding - The men have a heated debate over naming their team "The Trumpeteers," "The Honey Badgers" or "The Urinal Cakes."

4. It's all about the rebranding - Teresa Giudice identifies herself as the "author of two New York Times bestselling cookbooks"...as opposed to a Real Housewife.

5. Paul Teutel Sr. dresses for relative success — The competitor wears a jean jacket -- circa 1980 -- for the entire duration of the task, but really turns it out for the board room: he shows up in a cut off, sleeveless t-shirt.

6. Aubrey O'Day is the "most recognizable "star," no really! — "Out of all the women on this team, I have the most Twitter followers," she explains.

7. Victoria Gotti's unique pronunciation skills - She describes the eye injury that caused her to show up late: "I taw my cawnea."

8. Claymates 4Eva! - During the task, a tattooed woman asks if she can "make it rain on Clay Aiken," and then proceeds to make it rain on Clay Aiken.

9. Hairdos and hair don'ts - Penn Jillette's hair, Aubrey O'Day's hair, Victoria Gotti's hair, Paul Teutel's hair, Dee Snyder's hair and of course... Donald Trump's hair.

10. Sulu beams, Scotty! - The way George Takei giddily grins from ear to ear whenever Lou Ferrigno's biceps are discussed and/or displayed.

11. Trump offers dating advice - "Is your boyfriend rich?" he creepily asks Dayana Mendoza. "No, he's rich in his heart," she responds. "Eh, he's got no chance with you. Believe me. I guarantee you. Does he have an airplane? No! He's finished."

Celebrity Apprentice premieres Sunday, Feb. 19 at 9/8c on NBC.

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Celebrity Apprentice Episode One: Clay's Take

February 19, 2012 11:00 PM

...And, we're off!

After weeks of great anticipation, we're finally able to see the fruits of some of the hardest work any of us cast members have ever done!

Season 5 of Celebrity Apprentice starts off big... in the spectacular and iconic Avery Fisher Hall at New York's Lincoln Center. As Mr. Trump says, Lincoln Center is one of the premier performing arts facilities in the world, and I'll tell you that all of us felt an amazing amount of pressure standing there on our first day. We had only met each other and discovered who our competitors would be the night before at a tiny reception, so very few of us had had time to really process what we had gotten ourselves into (and who we had gotten ourselves into it with) before we were standing listening to members of the NYC Philharmonic playing The Apprentice theme song full out in this incredible space. Having been a part of a TV competition once before, I can say that I had not expected to be as nervous as I was.

As this week's episode takes us through the first task delivery we get a chance to really see some personalities starting to come out. Arsenio, Adam and Lisa are obviously going to be the funny ones and Victoria is already armed for battle! But, it's not until we get back into our war rooms that you really see the true colors of some folks starting to show. For us in the men's room, the process of choosing a name is an hour-long ordeal! Some ideas like Honey Badgers and Trumpeteers are thrown out and it seems like the men are going to have some difficulty focusing and being serious right away.

Meanwhile, the women are already shooting each other some nasty looks. Debbie Gibson suggests the name "Prowess" because she says she feels a very "feline energy" from the group and that immediately becomes the "understatement of the season." Teresa mentions some Italian word that I can neither pronounce nor spell. There are a LOT of Italians on the women's team this year, but that gets shot down because Victoria feels no one would understand it. The women decide to go with "Forte" because it means strong. (No one seems to pick up on the fact that it means "strong" in Italian.)

After an hour, the men stumble upon one name that actually seems to have unanimous support. Unanimous.

In the Board Room, Mr. Trump lets us know our task will be to create sandwiches and sell them in a deli in Manhattan. The team that makes the most money in sales AND tips will win. The project manager of the winning team will get all of the money from BOTH teams! Over on Forte, Patricia stepped up immediately and said she wanted to be project manager. She's playing for the Wayuu Taya Foundation. On Unanimous, Paul Sr. was sorta put on the spot, but he too accepted the role of project manager with a great deal of confidence. He's playing for Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Unanimous doesn't waste too much time in the planning stages. Paul is more of a strong-but-silent leader and allows Adam to lead the discussion for us until Paul drops the news that he believes he can bring in $500,000 worth of donations. At that point, we all figure... well... this one should be easy, so we head over to the cafe to start making the sandwiches.

The women have a bit more arguing to do with each other before they can get to work. Patricia seems to have a clear idea in her head of what she wants to do, but there are some strong personalities that she must contend with on her team before they can get to work. Instead of heading to the deli to make sandwiches, Forte decides to spend a lot more time back in their war room making calls to big donors in hopes to bring in as much cash as possible.

Meanwhile, Unanimous is hard at work building these sandwiches. Everyone is very energetic and more than willing to get their hands dirty this first week. So many people are working in the kitchen, in fact, that it gets a bit chaotic at times. George is actually working very diligently, but compared to the buzz of activity going on around him, George's calm demeanor makes it appear that he is slower than others. But, don't be fooled. He's working just as hard as everyone else! (Well, maybe not as hard as Lou... who slices the meat with such dedication that he actually slices off a big chunk of his finger too... Don't worry... He was fine and we cleaned everything!)

Forte certainly seems to have an advantage when it comes to cooking! Teresa is the author of cookbooks that made the NY Times Bestsellers list and they certainly have a more international flavor to their team, so making the sandwiches taste great should be no problem for them. Instead, they focus more on fundraising, and when the time comes to open up their store and sell, it certainly pays off for them! Right off the bat they have some pretty big heavyweights walk in the door. Wyclef Jean, Russell Simmons, Carol Alt, Andy Cohen... all with BIG checks! The club-type atmosphere that the women set up is certainly entertaining people. Wyclef even stays to sing for the crowd along with Debbie. Aubrey can't help but join in as well! ;-)

The Unanimous activity is much more outside the cafe than inside the cafe. Lou and Penn are outside stirring up a crowd with Incredible Hulk arms and fire eating. Paul Sr. has brought bikes down from his shop in upstate NY and the noise that they all make together has certainly drawn a crowd! But... they aren't coming inside to eat! With a slow trickle of customers, I resort to attempting to "shake down" folks for more money. Our sandwiches were priced at $9, but I tried my best not to let anyone get one for less than $20! (When a person came up with a credit card, I told them that I wasn't able to charge anything smaller than $50... and you would be amazed at how many times that worked!!)

As this week's episode progressed, it was obvious that Forte was pulling in check after check for $15-20K, while almost all of the money raised over with us on Unanimous was in MUCH smaller bills. But, as Adam had alluded to earlier in the episode, it really only takes one "whale"...

In the Board Room, we discover that Forte has raised $126,962. Mr. Trump tells them that it's a "record" for fundraising in the first task of any Apprentice. This gives them a lot of confidence. What they don't know is that the record is about to be broken as fast as it has been set... Unanimous raised $332,120! Paul had come through after all with a single donor making a donation of $305,000!

What's extremely telling is that, without Paul's big donor, Unanimous would have only raised $27,120. The women would have blown us out of the water!

The looks on the women's faces are pretty expressive. Not only because they know someone will be fired, but because it's painful to know that all of the money raised by Patricia for her charity will be given to Paul's charity. But, that's the way the game is played, and Patricia is extremely graceful in her loss.

In the end, Patricia brings back Victoria Gotti and Cheryl Tiegs. The beautiful Cheryl Tiegs is the first to fall in this season of The Celebrity Apprentice.

While you're waiting for next week's EXPLOSIVE episode, please be sure to check out http://www.wayuutaya.org. If you were like me, it was difficult to see Patricia have to give away the money she raised for her own organization that she has put so much of her heart into. Check out their website and make a contribution if you can.

Next week... Patricia will get a well-deserved surprise that should make her feel better!

And let me tell you... also next week, you will be SOOOO happy that Victoria sticks around. She's gonna give you some good TV next week! So stay tuned - next week's task is gonna have a lot of "dragon slaying." HA HA!!

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The Celebrity Apprentice Season Premiere Recap: All Aboard the Crazy Train!

'The Celebrity Apprentice' season premiere recap: All Aboard The Crazy Train!

A new crew of "celebrities" prepare to do battle in the name of charity…and self-humiliation

By Dalton Ross | Published Feb 20, 2012

The stages of New York's Lincoln Center have been home to some of the most electrifying performers of our age. Ella Fitzgerald. Etta James. Itzhak Perlman. And now, for a limited engagement only, former Real Housewife of New Jersey Teresa Giudice! This opening to season 5 of Celebrity Apprentice — complete with Donald Trump proclaiming it to be "bigger and better" while a fountain exploded phallically right behind him — is exactly what makes the show so genius. Because how else would a table-flipping Jersey girl with an IQ of approximately negative 42 manage to grace the stage of New York's legendary performing arts center? She wouldn't. But this odd juxtaposition of Teresa Giudice standing on stage at Lincoln Center — while the philharmonic plays the Celebrity Apprentice theme song, no less — is not what is so hilarious. It is the fact that Teresa Giudice is completely oblivious to this absurdity. As is Victoria Gotti. As is the dude with the handlebar moustache from American Chopper. But we're not. It's why we keep coming back for more. Because you never know when Clint Black is going to insinuate that he uses Tide detergent as a masturbation aid. You never know when Meat Loaf is going to pop a blood vessel because he can't find his paints (sitting in the corner). You never know when Dennis Rodman is going to abandon his post to invite himself out for dinner and drinks with confused hotel guests. And, as last night proved, you never know when Donald Trump is going to proclaim "I love Diddy."

Well, I love Celebrity Apprentice! And I love that we're back together celebrating all the action and absurdity for another season. So without further ado, let's get to some initial impressions from last night's premiere.

And The Worst Team Name Goes To…

As always, Trump divided the teams up by gender. I usually love the segments where the two camps have to decide on team names because it almost always results in people arguing about something that is possibly the stupidest thing in the entire world! Who cares what your team name is? It has absolutely zero bearing on your success in this game. Yet people usually mange to get pissy during the process. Unfortunately, there were no such fireworks this time around. Comedian Adam Corolla suggested Team Backhair and other assorted titles, but the men ultimately agreed on Penn Jillette's "Unanimous" — which would have been a million times more impressive if they had changed the i to a letter 1 to mirror the name of the short lived Fox reality show which stuck people in some underground lair.

Alas, the women were no better (which is to say, worse), although we all had a good collective chuckle when Lisa Lampanelli said that, "I think we should pick a name to show that we're not going to be a team that's all catty and mean and bitchy to each other." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! They say that every year, these Celebrity Apprentice broads. Never happens. (Nor should it.) Eventually, they settled on Forte, a name equal in lameness to Unanimous. I was thinking perhaps Team Botox would have been more appropriate, but that's just me.

Sizing Up The Men's Team

After the teams were given their task of going and selling sandwiches, we finally got to see our contestants in action. For the most part, the men acted very professional and seemed to work well together as team — which is, of course, horrible news for us viewers. Give us dysfunction, drama, and all-around dopey behavior! And while I can't tell you how sorry I am to hear about the death of Marco Andretti's friend, I am equally troubled by how positively boring his father — who showed up as a last minute replacement — is. He just may be the most charisma-free Celebrity Apprenticecontestant ever. (And that's saying something when you consider the likes of Hope Dworaczyk.) Which means he will no doubt be fired soon after his sympathy grace period ends.

But that's not to say there was no drama whatsoever. For some reason, Project Manager Paul decided he didn't like the cut of George Takei's jib. (My guess being he is likewise not too crazy about anyone that uses the word "jib.") Hmmm, the tough as nails biker is not too fond of the gay Asian from outer space: Who woulda thunk it? Seeing as how I am neither tough as nails nor a gay Asian (gasian?), I feel I can make an objective call here, and my judgment goes in favor of…Sulu! My Sulu support was sealed when Takei drooled over Lou Ferrigno stripping out of his shirt. "I don't know how old Lou is now, but what a treat," cooed Takei. "It was impressive. If I were in that shape I would be taking my shirt off all the time." Of course, you would. George Takei makes for good television, people. May he live long and prosper in this game.

But he's not my early favorite on the men's team. That would be Clay Aiken. While Arsenio and Adam Corolla were busy working on their comedy routines — always a danger when you have comedians on the program — Aiken came out as smart, savvy, and super competitive. This bodes well for future freak-outs involving the former American Idol runner-up. And even if he doesn't go on to be one of the more entertaining contestants, he's already proved his casting value for the one scene alone where a busty half-naked woman decided to "make it rain" and showered Aiken with dollar bills while she bounced up and down and the singer held his breath and imagined himself to be anywhere but there at that very moment. ("It's for charity. It's for charity. It's for charity," he no doubt kept murmuring to himself.)

I also can't help but root for Lou Ferrigno, even though he happens to be one of the most awkward interviews I've ever conducted as a journalist. Ha! Did you catch that? I called myself a journalist! Funny. Anyhoo, I do have to admit to being a bit disappointed that the hearing-challenged Ferrigno chose not to employ last season's breakout star, Jack Jason, as a sign-language interpreter. It seems Ferrigno reads lips. Well, read my lips: Jack Jason is freakin' rock star! Bring him back anyway! I do have to pause for the cause and give Lou credit for having the most disturbing sign of the season so far: "Eat here or I'll eat you!" I'm sorry, but what does that even mean? It's either an uncomfortable sexual advance from a guy who used to paint himself green or simply makes no sense. I don't remember the Hulk eating people, do you? He yelled a lot and tore his own clothes, sure, but that was about it. What in the name of Bill Bixby is going on here?

Finally, after his memorable turn helping out John Rich in last year's final challenge — not a day goes by when I do not randomly start singing out "7up Retro, keepin' it reeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaal" to no one in particular — I have to say expected a bit more out of Dee Snider. I mean, at least bust out a little makeup or something. Otherwise, I'm not gonna take it!

Sizing Up The Women's Team

WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE? Okay, I obviously know all the big names like Debbie Gibson, Tia Carrera, and Cheryl Tiegs. (What? They qualify as big for this show.) I even know the little names like Lisa Lampanelli and Victoria Gotti (who I might suggest bears a passing resemblance to the Cryptkeeper…if I didn't fear for my life, which is why I'd like to go on record right here and right now as saying how absolutely stunning I believe the mob boss' daughter looks. Talk about a knockout!). But Trump always throws one wild card hot chick you've never heard of into the mix (at least never heard of unless you're a subscriber to Skeezy Dudes Illustrated). But this year The Donald truly outdid himself, signing up not one but two Venezuelan beauty queens. And wouldn't you know it — these two South American sirens were in cahoots! Patricia (whose named is pronounced differently by every single person on the show) acted as Project Manager for the task, and when Dayana wasn't fawning over her, she was helping her raise money in the show's first ever Venezuelan hottie alliance!

But there is an absolute superstar-in-waiting on the women's team. Just listen to her and she'll tell you! That's right, I am expecting big things from the completely self-absorbed Aubrey O'Day. Any woman from an MTV reality show that complains about not being considered one of the most recognizable people on her team while bragging about her numerous Twitter followers is guaranteed to be a season-long delight. And the delight began when Ms. Thang informed us that "I have a tendency to be heavily charming." And modest! Aubrey's crowning moment this episode (other than her hair, which deserves all kinds of awards on its own) was when she bitched about Debbie Gibson's singing after Wyclef Jean stopped by for a little jam session. Aubrey eventually commandeered the mic and all America could think was: Is the lowest point in Wyclef Jean's entire life?

The women seemed to be raking in the money with numerous big donors (Wyclef, Russell Simmons, Katie Ford). The men, on the other hand, had Penn Jillette sticking fire in his mouth and Lou Ferrigno possibly threatening oral sex acts on uncooperative patrons. Of course, Paul claimed he could bring inhalf a million dollars. But where was it?

The Boardroom

This Boardroom started off the way many Boardrooms do, with everyone saying how awesome everyone else was. But Trump, like us, wants no part of this. He forces friction on teams he already knows have won just to make the contestants squirm for our enjoyment. God bless that man. For the women, Patricia complimented her team and Tia Carrera in particular, leading Trump to comment that the former Wayne's World beauty would not be brought back to be possibly fired should the women lose, to which Tia replied "You can bring me back, it's okay." This, of course, stopped Trump dead in his tracks. "Whoa, Tia, that doesn't make you very smart." That may be the case, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Tia Carrerra is NOT HERE FOR HER BRAINS! Sorry, but if you're looking for actual brains from the women's side in the Boardroom, your best bet may be to go consult the M&Ms "Chief Chocolate Officer."

The Donald then began to address the men's team but changed course midway through his first question and decided to start talking about how awesome he was instead: "Who was your biggest star? When you were out on the street like with Trump, they go totally crazy — crazy. The biggest star in the room by far." Again, God bless that man. Of course, Trump forced Paul to name his two weakest players, which resulted in the biker referring to George as "meek." Excuse me! Meek? George Takei? Have you ever survived a Psi 2000 affliction? Ever traveled back in time after colliding with a black hole? Ever had a Starfleet console blow up in your face? Well, George Takei has! Not only that, but Donald Trump — Donald Trump of all people! — pointed out how George has been a leader in the gay movement. (I'm not sure if that's really true, but nice of DT to give GT some props regardless.) Lest anyone think Trump had suddenly become a switch hitter, he made his sexual preferences more than clear when he addressed Lou: "You were Mr. Universe, right? And I own Miss Universe, which I much prefer over Mr. Universe. I have no interest in Mr. Universe. I never did." Sorry, Lou, but there will be no eating of Donald Trump this evening.

Results time! The men won the extra $35,000 for delivering the most delicious sandwich to Rachael Ray, but would that hold up when Don Jr. (sporting a new swanky part to his slicked back hair) announced the women had sold $126,962 worth of sandwiches, a new first task record? Considering that Paul sold one sandwich for $305,000, yes, it held up just fine. (Although it should be noted that Paul is probably the first project winner in Celebrity Apprentice history to fall almost $200,000 short of his goal and still easily come out victorious.

At this point, with the women losing, it became clear Cheryl Tiegs would soon be going home. She and Victoria Gotti had been pinpointed as the weakest two contestants, but there was no way in the name of Busey that Trump was going to get rid of the fiery mob boss' daughter over the practically invisible Tiegs. So all we were left to do was watch Trump talk about his BFF Diddy and carry out this brilliant exchange with Dayana:

Trump: "Is you boyfriend rich?"

Miss Universe: "No, he's not rich."

Trump: "He's got no chance with you. I guarantee it. Does he have an airplane? No? He's finished."

As crass as that sounds, you know the Trumpster is probably right. He's always right. Just ask him! So Cheryl gets fired, and even Adrian the elevator operator appears happy to see her go. She seemed like a nice, well-adjusted lady. Which is exactly why she had no place whatsoever on this show. And so goes our first episode. Whom are you loving and loathing from the new cast? And which of these alleged celebrities have you never seen in your life before? Hit the message boards and let us know. And for more reality ramblings, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. (Maybe one day I'll have as many followers as super-famous Aubrey.) Until next week: Cluck, cluck…splash!

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: the New Season Begins

'Celebrity Apprentice' Recap: A New Season Begins

The teams choose names and sling sandwiches for the Donald

by: Dan Hyman

In a move that suggests seeing everyday people compete for a job with Donald Trump is no longer all that entertaining, NBC decided to forego a new installment of The Apprentice and instead has fired up another batch of its celebrity sibling. That means more hemming, hawing and clawing from semi-celebrities in an effort to impress Trump, win money for charity, and, above all else, get another 15 minutes of fame.

The Donald, of thy beautiful pouf and douchebag persona, steps out of a stretch limo in predictably ostentatious fashion to kick off the show's fifth season. He proclaims it to be "bigger and better." And why is that? More celebrities, naturally. "18 celebrities. 18 egos," he says.

We love preview montages on reality shows – you know the ones where some juicy goodness of the upcoming season is revealed. So we were quite thrilled when one arrived! From this preview montage we learned that we can look forward to comedian Adam Carolla discussing how he lost his virginity in a Buick Regal; we also see His Hulkness Lou Ferrigno openly weeping. Of course, like all good montages, we also get a peek at upcoming drama. Real Housewives of New Jersey cast member, New York Times best-selling author (shudder) and future mother of a Jersey Shore cast member, Teresa Giudice warns the others, "If you attack me, I'll attack back." Meanwhile, the mob's first daughter Victoria Gotti boldly brags that she can make people "disappear." Sounds about right.

The cast assembles for the first time on a stage at NYC's famed Lincoln Center. (We can also safely say this has to be the lowest collective level of talent ever gathered on that stage.) And in Trumpian fashion, a live orchestra is also on hand to play the show's overly-dramatic theme music for the contestants. The cast is introduced/grilled by Trump. Giuduice tells Trump she expects to win. To which Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider says that he instead expects her to flip over a table at some point during the show. (It's a Real Housewives joke; we don't really get it.) Carolla tells everyone that he's playing for the "White Kids without iPads" charity.

Per usual, the teams are split up by sex; they're directed by Trump to head back to Trump Tower, decide on a team name and assign a project manager for their first task. This is always one of the best parts of the show. Why? Because both teams try to think of a name that is completely meaningless; the name will never matter to a single viewer. Audiences will always refer to the teams as "the men's team" and "the women's team." And like always, both teams have trouble coming up with a name. Carolla tosses around such gems as "Team Back Hair" and "Team Honey Badger." But no one's buying. Especially notAmerican Idol runner-up and proud ginger Clay Aiken, who is already carving out his place as the Season's Top Whiner. The females are equally divided: Giudice throws out some Italian name that on one likes – not even Victoria Gotti. Eighties pop princess Debbie Gibson mumbles some idea that everyone thinks is terrible. The men end up going with Team Unanimous – magician/comedian Penn Jillete's idea – and the women choose the equally uninspiring name Team Forte.

Assigning a project manager is smoother sailing for both squads: Paul Teutul Sr., of Fu-Manchu mustache and American Chopper-fame, steps up and mumbles through his beautifully manicured lip jacket that he'll take on the leadership role; Latin model Patricia Velasquez volunteers to head up the women's squad because she "runs organizations." Both teams reconvene in the board room where Trump and his trusty sidekicks, greasy-haired son Donald Jr. and Queen-of-Cold daughter Ivanka, are waiting. Interestingly enough, our intense focus had prevented us from noticing that previously-announced cast member Michael Andretti was missing. As Trump explains to both teams, the racecar driver's son, Marco, was originally slated to be a cast member. But when Marco's fellow driver and close friend, Dan Wheldon, died in a tragic Las Vegas crash, Marco opted out of the show. Michael, who will be arriving shortly, stepped up to fill his son's spot.

OK, so what's the task already? Trump tells the teams they're going to be selling sandwiches at NYC's Cafe Metro. And whichever team brings in the most money wins. Simple enough.

However, we must interrupt this recap to point out where we believe Celebrity Apprentice often loses its way: What becomes evident in this first episode, and what always seems to be the show's downfall, is the fact that any task involving "selling" almost always comes down to which team has a bigger network of obscenely-rich friends willing to donate. Because, while the task may be selling sandwiches, all that really matters is what whales come out to pony up the cash for their friends.

So even though the sandwiches essentially become meaningless, both teams strategize. The men go with a "Chopper" theme for their sandwich shop in honor of their project manager, Teutul Sr. The men also hope that circus-like antics outside their shop – which will include Jillette swallowing fire and some of Teutul Sr.'s motorcycle bros circling around in choppers while looking intimidating – will attract customers. (But again, does this even matter? It's all about who can get someone to write checks.) Project manager Teutul Sr. also proceeds to shock everyone on his team when he preemptively projects that with his fat-cat contacts he can bring in half a million dollars in sandwich donations.

Meanwhile, the female team decides to go with a "red carpet" theme for their sandwich shop. Former Danity Kane front woman and Diddy nemesis, Aubrey O'Day, takes a moment to tell the camera that she believes she's the most recognizable face on the women's team after it was collectively agreed that the honor belongs to Giudice. O' Day's justification? "I have the most Twitter followers," says the formerly-blonde singer whose hair color now resembles improperly-mixed magenta paint.

The next morning, both teams head to their respective shops. And this is when our first taste of drama occurs – although for this show, it's really not all that juicy. Teutul Sr., whose managerial style is reminiscent of a disgruntled sweatshop boss, thinks that Takei is, as he later calls him, too "meek." Takei disagrees. But despite not meshing with Teutul, Takei is in good spirits when Ferrigno takes off his shirt revealing old-man chiseled pecs. The women are meshing quite well. However Victoria Gotti does arrive an hour late and claims a torn cornea – or was it her retina? – is to blame.

Throughout the day, both teams attract large crowds to their respective stores; the sandwiches are flying out the door. Aiken works the register for the men and tries convincing people to pay $100 for a sandwich, to which most reply "No." Jillette stays out front juggling fire while Ferrigno flexes his muscles and holds a sign that reads "Eat Here or I'll Eat You." The women are not as flashy out-front. But they appear to be bringing in the big bucks. Wyclef Jean stops by for a jam session with both Gibson and O' Day and also buys a $15K "sandwich"; Russell Simmons drops in and spends $10K on a nasty vegan sandwich that Gotti can't even believe the music mogul's willing to eat.

Trump then throws both teams a curve ball: He calls up both project managers and instructs them that their team must bring its best sandwich onto the Rachael Ray Show to see whose creation reigns supreme. The winner will receive "big money," Trump says. Raunchy comedian Lisa Lampanelli and Gotti bring the women's "Celebrity Club Internacional" sandwich. "Woo-Woo-late-night dude" Aresnio Hall and Carolla bring the men's "Chopper" sandwich. Ray praises both, but doesn't reveal the winner.

Heading into the board room – which is always the best part of this show – all signs point to the women being crowned the winners. Clay Aiken is nervous that Teutul Sr. may not have delivered on his bold $500K prediction. Without knowing who won, both teams come out with guns blazing. Velasquez says model Cheryl Tiegs and Gotti were the weak links. Teutul Sr. outs Takei and Hall as his team's underachievers. After the usual back-and-forth bickering, Trump reveals that the men not only won the Rachael Ray challenge, for which they'll get an additional $35K, but they surprisingly also won the overall challenge by finishing with an incredible total of $332K. By comparison, the women raised a still-impressive $125K. It is also revealed, however, that the men's team essentially won by receiving one $305K donation, which does nothing but support our previous point that actual item being sold was meaningless.

The victorious men are dismissed and the women go to battle. There's a consensus among the female team that project manager Velasquez did an outstanding job, despite the loss. It looks like she's safe. But it does become evident that most of the team feels Tiegs and Gotti are the weak links. To them, Tiegs is aloof and slow; Gotti is indifferent. So Velasquez chooses these two women to return with her to the boardroom to face Trump.

And then, nearly two hours into the episode, we get our first moment of bliss: Amanda! (For those unaware, Amanda is Trump's perpetually-silent assistant who only mutters the words "Yes, Mr. Trump" while smiling. Trust us, you'll come to love her as we do.)

Back in the board room, Velasquez, Tiegs and Gotti talk – not yell – it out. It's between Tiegs and Gotti as far as who is getting axed. "I don't know if this is right for me. I'm more of a quiet person," Tiegs admits when Trump suggests that perhaps she's not cut out for this show. With those words, Tiegs writes her own death sentence; Trump has no choice but to fire the former model. And with that, 18 is now 17.

Next Week: We certainly had hoped for more drama and flare-ups in the season opener. But the preview of the next episode indicates that good times are coming soon! Next week the contestants square off at Medieval Times and Dee Snider dresses in drag.

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The Celebrity Apprentice, Season 5, Season Premiere: TV Recap

FEBRUARY 20, 2012, 11:48 PM ET

'The Celebrity Apprentice,' Season 5, Season Premiere: TV Recap

"Hello there! For all of you feeling a little bit Linundated by all the hoops coverage here recently, let's take a little break from Jeremania to recap the premiere of the fifth season of "Celebrity Apprentice"!

You may remember Donald Trump from such other reality shows as "The Apprentice" (seasons one through six) and "The Race for the Republican Nomination." Well, he's back in full effect here, pursed lips, furrowed brows, forward-swept 'do and all, ready to put another slate of stars-with-an-asterisk through a gold-plated and fine-grain-leather-upholstered version of hell.

Once again, he's flanked by his spawn, Ivanka and Donald Jr.; the family resemblance is remarkable, except Ivanka still has all of her own hair and actually makes the Trump features kind of attractive, while Don Jr. just looks like his louder and more charismatic father's midday shadow — a darker, fainter, more flickery silhouette of the original. You keep expecting him to cringe and wring his hands nervously whenever Daddy Don looks in his direction.

OB-RR494_taojon_CV_20120206131449.jpgI'm joined in this recap by my friend and supplemental snarkist Kai Ma, managing editor for theAsian American Writers Workshop and longtime reality teevee buff. Because when watching a show like "Celebrity Apprentice," too much bitchiness is never enough. Also, Kai actually met Ivanka when she was writing for New York mag: "She's very poised. Very well trained." We have some Trumpological expertise on board!

The show opens with a little montage of contestants talking about the charities they're supporting with this exercise in self-humiliation. Yes. This is for charity. Not a desperate attempt to revive flagging careers at all.

"Look, they're all fakewalking to their big meeting at Lincoln Center!" says Kai. The contestants put on their best "I'm very serious about winning" faces as they ascend various steps and walk down random halls toward their appointment with destiny. And Donald Trump.

Standing on stage at Avery Fisher Hall, the assembled cast is not immediately impressive. "It's a bunch of D-list has-beens," says Kai. Then adds: "And George Takei!"

Basically, you have nods to nostalgia (former talker Arsenio Hall, supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, '80s poptart Debbie Gibson, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, ex-"Hulk" Lou Ferrigno), reality retreads ("American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken, "American Chopper" patriarch Paul Teutul, Sr., "Real Housewife of New Jersey" Teresa Giudice, "Growing Up Gotti" gorgon Victoria Gotti), comic relief (comedians Adam Carolla and Lisa Lampanelli, Penn & Teller's Penn Jilette) and people who are simply not anyone's idea of household names (Danity Kane's Aubrey O'Day, Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, racing scion Michael Andretti, former model Patricia Velasquez, "Wayne's World" actress Tia Carrere). And…George Takei. Who announces in his first camera-facing exhortation, "I'm going to win, by George. I'm George Takei, dammit!" Oh, my!

So we have some hopes for George. But from the outset, it's obvious that the funnest people to watch are going to be Debbie Gibson (Kai: "Surprisingly, she looks kind of tough. I mean, I'm getting here that you would not want to eff with Debbie Gibson"), Aubrey O'Day (Kai: "Who is this dimwit again? And what happened to her face? She looks like someone's cartoon version of Lindsay Lohan") and, of course, Victoria Gotti, whose skull-painted-with-latex demeanor and Gambino family credentials instantly marks her as the season's most-feared contestant.

Comedian Lisa Lampanelli calls it out first: "Victoria Gotti, I'm totally scared of you." Really, who wouldn't be? There are mythological depictions of the afterlife built around creatures that resemble Victoria Gotti.

The Donald, meanwhile, points out that Lisa isn't exactly a shrinking violet herself. "Lisa, when I was roasted by Comedy Central, ya really killed me," he says, pursing his lips. No grudges? We'll see.

Lampanelli adds that she has another target in her sights. "I think George Takei's got it coming," she says. "Takei, I'm gunning for you, bitch."

Takei's quick to put up his deflector shields. "I've got my eye on you too, Lampanelli," he retorts. "My loins are girded." His loins are girded on kill!

"I don't even know what the heck that means," mutters Arsenio. Neither do we. But it sounds impressive. Let's put a pin in that one as a potential beef to watch.

As the New York Philharmonic plays the Celeb Apprentice theme song, the action moves off to the planning rooms of the two teams — divvied up, per Trumpian tradition, into men versus women.

The men all seem to be wearing various shades of lavender. Is that this season's big color? Seriously, lavender ties, shirts, accent pocket squares. Ferrigno. Jilette. The exception of course being Paul Teufel Sr., who sports a classic-blue stoner's jean jacket. He's basically a moustache with arms anyway.

They have to choose a name. The name suggestions all pretty much suck wind: Carolla comes up with Team Back Hair, the Trumpeteers and the Honey Badgers. Clay Aiken does not like Honey Badgers. ("Are you kidding me? Mr. Trump does not suffer childishness," he says. "We have a lot of frat boys here." Clay, try not to get stuffed into a trash bin by series end, okay?)

"What about 'Galactic Force'? 'Galactic Power'?" says Takei. The other contestants shift uncomfortably. ("Do we have to pretend we like 'Star Trek'?" says Carolla, off camera. "I had neighbors who were Trekkies. They were alcoholics.")

Just when it seems like no name is going to get a unanimous consensus, someone suggests…Unanimous. So, in a deft feat of meta-nomenclature, they decide to call themselves Unanimous. (Anything to get out of the room, says Dee Snider. "That name was definitely the last chick in the bar at the end of the night.")

Over to the girls.

The ladies are impressively tight already, with a bubbly repartee going that the men might envy. Although Cheryl Tiegs gets a callout here, with an off-camera in which she describes herself as "very much a loner." Is this foreshadowing? Maybe!

Naming is a hard nut for the women's team too. "Ballbusters," "Prowess" and "Bad News Babes" all die in committee. Teresa suggests an Italian term that no one except her and Victoria Gotti can pronounce. In the scrum, someone — Aubrey O'Day? — suggests "We all have such fabulous hair — can we do something with that?"

This draws a snort from Kai: "Half of them are wearing extensions."

They end up converging on Debbie Gibson's musical suggestion, Forte. "It means strong," she explains. It's also Italian! So, Teresa Giudice doesn't have to flip any tables.

The women then decide on a project manager, which ends up being model turned philanthropist Patricia Velasquez, mostly because she volunteers. Everyone's okay with that, because it sort of sucks to be the number-one manager out of the gate — everyone's going to be rooting for you to fail and have the unceremonious honor of being the first contestant dumped from the show.

On the men's side, everyone is quite aware of how crappy it is to own the first project. No one's volunteering to step into the line of fire. Carolla decides to play mediator, and starts suggesting criteria for the guys' choice of first project manager: "Maybe there are some people universally qualified to do whatever this task is going to be," he suggests. "Paul might be better at a specific one…" — suggesting, essentially, that Teutel Sr. is probably not the right pick for the gig. Teutel, on the other hand, takes this as a nomination.

"I ran a business for 28 years," he says. "I'll do it. I really don't care. At some point I have to do it anyhow."

Teutel has arms like tree trunks. He looks like he could tie a knot in Clay Aiken. And with that, Unanimous has its first leader.

They all head to the boardroom to confront The Donald and hear their first mission. Donald interrogates them on their choice of names and project managers, and then announces that one of Team Unanimous's members — racing king Marco Andretti — has had to pull out of the show, due to the death of a close friend and teammate, and is being replaced by his dad, retired racer Michael Andretti. This doesn't look to change the balance of power, unless the first task involves parking-lot doughnuts.

But no: Their mission is to make and sell sandwiches. The team that scores the most money in receipts and tips will win all of the cash scored by both teams for their project manager's charity. "It's a lawt of money," intones Trump. It's yuuuuge.

"Trump looks really unnaturally orange," says Kai. "Is it the TV? No, that's actually him. It's like someone spray painted him pumpkin." Trump does, indeed look like quite the Boehner.

Assessing each team's chances of victory, Kai puts her money on the girls. "They just seem so much more organized and together, which makes me upset, because I have an issue with Tia," she says. "Tia dated Costas Mandylor, and Costas and David Lee Roth were basically how I knew I was heterosexual. I'm going to flat out say now that I refuse to like her."

So Kai is rooting for the guys. And the guys do have a plan. "You wanna create excitement," says project manager Paul. "If there's guys with sleeveless t-shirt standing around, that's excitement. And I could get a hold of my shop, get half a dozen bikes to roll down in front of the store." So Lou and Paul are going to stand outside flexing, and Penn Jillette's going back to his roots and play midway barker. "I come from carny trash," he boasts. Sounds like a show! But will it move sandwiches?

Then Teutel drops a bomb. "We're gonna win this. I can call in some guys to donate money — guys who never let me down before….I'm gonna get us half a million dollars."

Everyone is shocked. Half a mill? No, really? Teutel just nods, stone-faced.

On the girls side, things are more structured and team-centric. Velasquez has the ladies more or less in line, offering up a similar carnivalesque concept — but then Deborah Gibson suggests they go with more of a VIP velvet-rope affair. They'll turn their café into an exclusive "club" — hot ladies out front, hot sandwiches inside. Velasquez likes it. Victoria Gotti thinks this idea should sleep with the fishes: "If everybody's outside, who's gonna be inside makin' sandwiches?"

"That woman just seems like a miserable person," says Kai. "She's a total sociopath. Are you going to write that I said that? I don't want to end up in an unmarked grave."

Onscreen, Lampanelli concurs: "I won't screw with Gotti. You know why. No horses head in my bed. I don't care if she doesn't show up for work, she's gonna get an A+ from me."

Meanwhile, in all the discussion about who the most "recognizable" members of the team are — the "outside" girls — Aubrey O'Day is feeling left out. "You know, I've been part of double-platinum girl group Danity Kane and the reality is I can run circles around most people here here. Them underestimating me is probably not the best idea, because out of all the people here, I have the most Twitter followers."

"This chick is delusional," says Kai. Insanity Kane!

Team Unanimous has headed to Café Metro, New York's favorite upscale bodega chain, to prep their Circus of the Stars sandwich strategy. Beef two emerges! Paul is not a George Takei fan. "I think George is a nice guy, a quiet guy, but I like to be around aggressive people," he says. "I think it pushes you into a higher energy mode. And George is not that kind of guy." Whoa, Paul, you're beaming down into stereotypical territory there. But it gets worse: He starts calling Takei "Star Trek." As in, "Where's my man Star Trek? Did he wander off into space somewhere?"

"So Teutel called George smart, quiet, but not aggressive — basically the Asian model minority," says Kai. "That's pretty messed up."

Fortunately, Takei, who might be having William Shatner flashbacks at this point, is not about to take any of Teutel's B.S. "Paul is a Hell's Angel guy, he has tattoos all up his arms, and I don't know where else on his body," he says. "He's not the kind of guy who inspires you to do your best." Hey, George, come on, bring it harder. WWSD? (What Would Sulu Do?)

But the test of Paul's success isn't going to be about how he motivates his men. It's going to be whether he can deliver on his crazy promise of five hundred large in charitable donations. "I might have bit off a little more than I can chew here," he acknowledges. Well, let's see!

Over at Team Forte, Patricia Velasquez has been doing a mega call-a-thon trying to get people to commit to bringing bread over to Forte's Celebrity Café. "I was calling every person in my phone book," she says. "Ex-lovers…everybody!"

Victoria Gotti is also on the phone non-stop — with her contractors, her agent, and other Gotti entourage members, talking about things not at all related to the mission at hand, or even the show. "What's up with that?" says Lampanelli. More foreshadowing!

Then the women head over to their own Café Metro outlet, where they start the work necessary to get their celebwiches made — slicing tomatoes and meat, simmering Teresa Giudices's special secret-recipe red roasted peppers, and separating slices of cheese off of a giant industrial stack of fromage. The latter job has been assigned to Cheryl Tiegs, who apparently has found it a challenge akin to doing Rubik's Cube blindfolded, with your feet.

"Cherly is a sweetheart, but she definitely has a lower…energy about her," says Debbie Gibson. "That doesn't fly in a kitchen where you have to separate 800 pieces of cheese."

Cut to Tiegs, turning slowly to the camera with a goofy grin on her face. Don't you know Debbie Gibson basically called you an airhead, Cheryl? Oops, not until this episode airs.

Meanwhile, Victoria Gotti, to no one's surprise, doesn't show up for work. "Maybe she woke up in the trunk of a Lincoln Continental," says Tia Carrere, getting in her best — and very nearly only — line of the night. Gotti eventually shows up, claiming some kind of optical accident: "I tore my cornea, or maybe my retina," she says. "It's better now." The undead have impressive regenerative abilities!

The actual Deli Duel between Unanimous and Forte almost comes off as an anticlimax. Both sides score victories — Unanimous gets a team of, uh, "professional dancers" to come and actually pay for the privilege of hanging out in front of their store (Sample line from an impressively endowed and poorly supported member of the dance troupe: "If you guys buy sandwiches, I'll keep jumping up and down like this!"). Velasquez's mass dialing attack seems to be paying off: Wyclef Jean shows up at Forte's store and drops $15K, and Russell Simmons comes in with a check for $10,000 and a request for a vegan hero.

Both teams are invited to send a rep to "The Rachael Ray Show" with their best sandwich, for a yum-off judged by Ray herself. The winning 'wich gets their team an unspecified bonus sum of money, donated by Café Metro itself.

And then it's time for the final reckoning: Who cut the mustard, and who cut the cheese?

Asked which teammembers did the least to help out the cause, project manager Patricia cites Cheryl Tiegs and Victoria Gotti. (Venezuelans have no fear!). Project manager Paul offers up George Takei and Arsenio Hall.

"Of course, the two people of color," snorts Kai.

Surprisingly culturally sensitive Adam Carolla concurs: "Donald, you put Paul on the spot to choose the weak links, and he picks three minorities." Wait, three? He's saying that because Takei is gay, right? Apparently!

But Paul is still bringing it to our man George. "There are a lot of strong personalities here, and he's a meeker person by nature," he says. "And I think it might be a little overwhelming for him."

Everyone's a little WTF?. "This guy, he was a leader for the gay movement!" says Trump. And then Takei steps to the challenge.

"I was taken aback when you used that word meek," he says. "I had to fight for a lot of things in my life — I grew up behind barbed war in an internment camp."

Teutel knows he's crossed the line. He turns and apologizes. Takei graciously accepts, but I don't think this beef is over.

There's a cliffhanger break as Trump is about to announce the winner of the Rachael Ray taste test, and then we're back. Trump announces that Unanimous's sandwich has won, and will get an additional $35,000 added to their total. The ladies are obviously crushed, but Velasquez is still confident they've beaten the men. And why not? She ran the register. She's seen her team's numbers.

"The women's team set an all-time record for the first task of the series," says Don Jr. "They raised $126,962."

As the women cheer, Trump calls that a "fantastic amount of money" — and then turns to Ivanka for the men's total.

"The men's team raised $332,120," she says. "Add $35K to that, and you get $367,120."

The men have more than doubled the record-setting total of the women! What gives! It turns out that Paul's "guys" came through. "I raised $305,000 of that from one guy," he says.

"Holy crap, who wrote that check?" shouts Kai. We may never know!

In any case, Teutel's promise of half a million to charity pretty much comes through — he's earned the Make-a-Wish Foudnation over $494,000 in one go. And now Forte has to offer up a sacrificial lamb. We all know where it's going.

"It's too bad," says Kai. "The girls really busted their balls. I think it's gonna be Cheryl — she's such a dip. So slow laying out the cheese."

Good prediction. Patricia brings Victoria Gotti and Cheryl Tiegs to the boardroom, and even though Gotti's lack of enthusiasm, lateness and general uselessness during the mission gets called out, well, you know, Gambino! She could fail to show up on camera for the rest of the series and still win this.

And so, Trump does his thing. "Cheryl, you're an amazing woman," he says. "But for the purposes of what we have to do here…you're fired. You're fantastic. Now get out of here." Cheryl out!

And we're out too! Until next week, that's the recap.

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Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings: Penn Jillette Leads Week 1

Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings: Penn Jillette Leads Week 1

Author:

Jessica Grabert and Mack Rawdenpublished: 2012-02-20 12:09:24

Season 12 of Celebrity Apprentice began in a nearly empty music hall where a small orchestra played for the cast and Donald Trump. Anyone hoping for a musical challenge in the first week was sorely disappointed. Instead, in a mirror of last season's kick-off pizza challenge, the men and women are split into separate teams and asked to make sandwiches.

At the start, the women's team seemed to be far more strategic and organized. Though they did have a few loose cannons—most notoriously Victoria Gotti, who showed up late for the first challenge—Patricia Velasquez took on the role of project manager and put the women to task immediately, setting up a celebrity-themed café and calling donors. The men were a whole lot less willing to step up to the plate. Eventually, the sly Adam Carolla nonchalantly mentioned Paul Teutul, Sr. would be the type of guy who was better off not leading. Teutul immediately responded that he could bring in half a million in donors and took on the role of project manager.

Despite Penn Jillette's efforts to swallow fire and generally please the crowd, it seemed like there might be trouble for the boys when people stayed outside to watch the show rather than head inside to buy a sandwich. The women were having none of these problems, with a steady stream of donations coming in. Nonetheless, it was the men who came through at the end of the challenge, with Teutul earning over $300,000 dollars from a single donor. Not quite half a million, but still, clutch.

The board room was a place of turmoil, and rightly so. Thanks to some careful editing on the part of Celebrity Apprentice's crew, it seemed highly likely that Valesquez had the challenge in the bag. When it turned out the women had lost, no one wanted to send the project manager home. One after the other, Victoria Gotti and Cheryl Tiegs were accused of not being team players. It was poor Cheryl who ultimately went packing, probably because of how slowly she unfolded pieces of cheese.

The Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings are an ordered compilation of weekly lists put together by TV Blend writers Jessica Grabert and Mack Rawden. Each week after viewing the episode, they each rank the competitors in order. Seventeen points are given for a fist place vote, and this week, one was given for a last place vote. One competitor has already been eliminated; therefore, that person automatically occupies the bottom slot. Here is how this week's voting panned out, complete with analysis on how the celebrities might fare moving forward.

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The Favorites

#1) Penn Jillette (31): While many people hung out on the sidelines this week, Penn was busy drumming up business. Half of exhibiting prowess in the early competition rounds on a reality show is showing up with ideas. The other half is following through on what you say you will do. Penn achieved both during the first round of Celebrity Apprentice, and he may be the only contestant this week to have done so. TV Blend expects more out of the man as the weeks roll on.

#1) Dee Snider (31): In some ways, it's probably unfair to place Dee Snider this high. He didn't really do a whole lot during this week's premiere episode, and when he did speak up, some of his ideas were shot down such as choosing sandwich names that conveyed why each team member was famous. Knowing all that, the Twisted Sister frontman should have ended up in the middle of the pack, but that's not all the knowledge Celebrity Apprentice fans have about Dee Snider. We watched him come in like a ringer for John Rich last season and nail his promotional video. Thus, we know when he's called upon, he's more than capable of coming through.

#3) Patricia Velasquez (30): Despite the fact Patricia lost this week's challenge, as a project manager she did delineate responsibilities, bring in many donors, and create a concept that brought people into the women's sandwich shop. Still, not bringing in the most money is a big deal. If Patricia cannot bring in enough money when the going gets tough, it's hard to see her winning Celebrity Apprentice, even with her lucrative management skills, although we expect her to do quite well in the weeks to come.

#4) Adam Carolla (28): Adam Carolla is famous for being funny. More importantly for this competition, he is famous for being quick on his feet. That's a byproduct of his years working on the radio and doing podcasts. You have to be able to come up with opinions quickly in that format, and that rapid fire brainstorming should serve him very well here. That's why I'm pretty sure he should be a valuable asset to any project manager. As for whether or not he can lead himself, we'll have to wait and see.

#5) Debbie Gibson (27): One episode in, it seems like Debbie Gibson has already found the perfect balance between tactful and assertive. You need to be a little aggressive to get your opinion heard, but you can't run over everyone else like a freight train without winding up in the boardroom after every loss. I like the line she's walking, and I like her chances at getting the women on the same page whenever she's project manager. As seen in previous years, that's not always the easiest task, especially when there are so many people left.

#6) Lisa Lampanelli (26): Lisa Lampanelli's bark is worse than her bite, mostly because her bark comes in the form of a carefully worded argument. Lisa comes off as a hard worker and a team player, which are good skills to have onApprentice. However, her leadership skills are untried at this point. Like Adam Carolla, it is tough to know whether Lampanelli's skill sets will work for or against her as a project manager.

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The Contenders

#7) Paul Teutel Sr. (23): The men won the challenge this week and they won it with an excess of money. It's sort of a slap on the face for Paul to appear this low on both of this week's lists. However, as project manager, Paul did not overtly delineate tasks, and he also did not push his team to bring in their own donors. If Paul hadn't had that one clincher of a donor, the men's team would have lost by a landslide. Plus, now one of Paul's hardcore donors has been called upon, it is difficult to determine whether he has the donors in his pocket to bring in that type of money, once again. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, Paul will continually prove us wrong. I'm not holding my breath.

#8) Teresa Giudice (19): I don't watch The Real Housewives Of Jersey; so, I had only a vague idea of who Teresa was entering the competition. I knew she'd written some bestselling cookbooks, but I was apparently way off base in thinking she was one of the less famous contestants. In fact, all of the women agreed she was the most recognizable, and the evidence backed that up. She brought a ton of people into the sandwich shop, and that ability to be seen and appreciated will serve her well in all the tasks that involve dealing with the general public.

#9) Arsenio Hall (16): Arsenio Hall mostly blended into the background this week, but given his status as a former late night host and cultural icon, I'm pretty sure he probably has a lot of very famous connections. Younger people have a tendency to forget just how influential and popular he was in the early '90s. It was his show that Bill Clinton appeared on to play the saxophone. Producing content night in and night out requires a strong work ethic and a superior intelligence, and I'm optimistic he'll be able to show that in the coming weeks. Since he essentially did nothing last night however, he's stuck in the middle of the pack.

#10) Clay Aiken (13): In a season chock full of funny men, the very serious Clay Aiken stands out like a light bulb in a darkened room. His problem does not lie in his customer service or his fundraising skills, as we saw him exhibit both as the cashier this week. Instead, his problem lies in fitting in with the team. If Aiken is unwilling to relax and let team members like Adam Carolla crack a joke every now and again, I don't foresee him being an effective manager. We will have to wait and see if Aiken loosens up in the next couple of weeks.

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The Dark Horses

#11) Lou Ferrigno (12): Lou Ferrigno is a worker, and he's up for anything. It seems like every season there's a dude on Celebrity Apprentice who makes everything run behind the scenes. I have high hopes the Incredible Hulk will do just that. This week it was putting on a cutoff shirt and flexing to bring people into the sandwich shop. Next week it'll probably be carrying swords and battle axes twenty-five at a time into Medieval Times. If there's a job to do, Lou will be up for it, which is why I think he'll last a long time.

#11) Victoria Gotti (12): Victoria Gotti was the second woman Velasquez brought to the board room, after Cheryl Tiegs. It really is no wonder; Gotti did not raise very much money, she showed up to the challenge late, and Lisa Lampanelli caught her dealing with personal business while everyone else was calling donors. If it wasn't for Tiegs admitting she was a weak player, Gotti may not have been given this chance to redeem herself. However, Gotti is willing to fight to stay on the show. Now she needs to prove herself, I can see her fighting for a few more weeks.

#13) Aubrey O'Day (11): Aubrey might be one of the most petulant, selfish characters Celebrity Apprentice has ever encountered. Her claim to fame is singing, and she has proven she cannot handle the fact Debbie Gibson is more famous than she is. She would also rather have people focus on her looks and charms than work hard and put together viable ideas. The only reason she is not smack dab at the bottom of this list is because she is willing to fight for herself. That may only be the first step in surviving the board room, but at least it is a step.

#14) Michael Andretti (10): Michael Andretti is the quintessential wild card. His son, Marco, was originally supposed to be on the show. After the death of a good friend, Marco stepped down and his father took his place. Andretti is on the show because he believes in his charity, but it is difficult to believe in a leader that shows up quietly and works with even less pomp. It does not help that Andretti only showed up mid-episode. We will have to see how committed Andretti ends up being in the coming weeks.

#15) George Takei (8): Poor George was singled out by Paul for not being as aggressive as his fellow men. In many ways, Paul's continued shots at the formerStar Trek star were pointless and unnecessary. Like everyone else, George put his head down and churned out sandwiches, but I do think his overall lack of overt passion will send him packing at some point. There's nothing wrong with being a bit shy and introverted. Those qualities are great, but all to often on Celebrity Apprentice, it's the contestant who's willing to be assertive that lasts the longest.

#16) Dayana Mendoza (8): Dayana was a rockstar in the first challenge. Apart from the project managers, she raised the most money. In theory, she should have ended up much higher on these rankings because of that. Unfortunately, most of the other people held back, not because they couldn't raise money, but because they chose to save their big guns. It doesn't seem like Dayana did that, which makes me nervous that she won't be able to raise money when her number is called in the future. Maybe she will. Maybe she has untapped resources, but by calling everyone in your phone on the first challenge, you can set yourself up for failure later.

#17) Tia Carrere (2): Tia did so well this entire challenge until she ended up in the boardroom, at which point she shoved her foot in her mouth twice. The first time was by telling Patricia it was okay if she brought her back to the boardroom after Patricia specifically said she wouldn't because Tia had been great. And the second time was by admitting she doesn't use strategy. It would be nice if everyone advanced on his or her own merits, but that's not how the game is played. You need to think ahead and position yourself for victory.

Here's a look at how the ballots shook out…

Jessica:

Patricia Velasquez (17)

Dee Snider (16)

Lisa Lampanelli (15)

Penn Jillette (14)

Debbie Gibson (13)

Adam Carolla (12)

Paul Teutul, Sr (11)

Teresa Giudice (10)

Arsenio Hall (9)

Aubrey O'Day (8)

Lou Ferrigno (7)

Victoria Gotti (6)

Dayana Mendoza (5)

George Takei (4)

Clay Aiken (3)

Michael Andretti (2)

Tia Carrere (1)

Mack:

Penn Jillette (17)

Adam Carolla (16)

Dee Snider (15)

Debbie Gibson (14)

Patricia Velasquez (13)

Paul Teutul Sr. (12)

Lisa Lampanelli (11)

Clay Aiken (10)

Teresa Giudice (9)

Michael Andretti (8)

Arsenio Hall (7)

Victoria Gotti (6)

Lou Ferrigno (5)

George Takei (4)

Aubrey O'Day (3)

Dayana Mendoza (2)

Tia Carrere (1)

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Celebrity Apprentice: Clay Aiken, Salesman Extraordinaire

'Celebrity Apprentice': Clay Aiken, salesman extraordinaire

Submitted by brookecain on 02/19/2012 - 23:20

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WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Clay Aiken made his debut on "Celebrity Apprentice" tonight, and we're happy to announce he survived his first boardroom showdown.

In fact, Clay proved himself a savvy player in the night's first challenge, which was running a sandwich shop in midtown Manhattan. The teams (men vs. women) were judged on how much money they could raise in one business day. Notice I said "raise" instead of "earn" because the only way to win these types of "Celebrity Apprentice" challenges is for the celebs to get their rich friends to come and donate thousands of dollars.

Clay ran the register for his team's shop and did a great job of up-selling to people checking out. We posted the clip earlier of Clay getting $1000 from a man offering $500, and he worked hard on every single person checking out, getting as much as he could from them.

The editing showed the women's team, led by Patricia Valesquez (a former model and also an actress and philanthropist), getting huge checks from people like Russell Simmons and Wyclef Jean, while the men struggled to draw even non-famous customers. The editing made you think going into the boardroom that the women had it in the bag -- especially when Trump told the women that the more than $126,000 they raised was a record for the first episode of a "Celebrity Apprentice" season.

But not so fast! That record only stood for about a minute.

Paul Teutul Sr. of "Orange County Choppers" was the team leader for the men and he had some rich friends of his own. In fact, the men raised an astonishing $367,000, which included a bonus from havingRachael Ray pick their sandwich as the tastiest.

Here's the crazy part: Paul got $305,000 of that from one donor, but didn't say who the donor was.

Paul's charity is the Make A Wish Foundation, so they got Paul's money plus the money raised by the women -- nearly half a million dollars.

All that means the women were on the chopping block, and Patricia brought the two weakest players back to the boardroom with her: former model Cheryl Tiegs and famous mob daughter Victoria Gotti (who honestly looks like a villain in a Tim Burton movie).

The first player sent home was Cheryl Tiegs, which was the right call. She was slow and didn't have much drive at all. She's a terrifically nice and classy person, which means she's probably not cut out for this game. She admitted as much in the boardroom, which makes you wonder why she even went on the show to start with. Surely she watched earlier seasons before signing on?

Early thoughts on the season:

After this first episode, the men do seem to have the stronger team. Please let Adam Carolla stay for a long, long time, because that guy is hilarious. Penn Jillette also looks like a very strong player, and you know he has a lot of rich Vegas friends who can carry him through. Victoria Gotti is going to be trouble. She has a terrible attitude and probably won't win any friends.

It should be an entertaining trip. I'm just hoping it's half as interesting as last season's Gary Busey-Meatloaf-Dionne Warwick-Nene Leakes-Star Jones giant stew of crazy.

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Clay's Take, Week 2: Medieval Times

WEEK 2: MEDIEVAL TIMES

  • Posted By
  • February 26, 2012 11:00 PM

What a difference a week makes, huh?

Last week everyone was so cordial and friendly; this week the claws started coming out on Team Forte!

This week's episode begins with the fall out from last week's firing. It's always a very awkward situation sitting in the winning team's Boardroom waiting to see who has been fired. It's one of the only times that the two teams get to socialize and see each other, but it's under such stressful circumstances.

When Victoria and Dayana return to the room, Victoria makes it abundantly clear that the gloves are now off! She doesn't trust anyone, and she's going to be fighting from here on out. No matter how much Tia tries to calm her down, Ms. Gotti is ready to throw down!

We get a great chance to see some of the good that comes from the show when Paul Sr. delivers his previous week's winnings to a young man with Make-A-Wish Foundation. Paul gets a chance to talk about Make-A-Wish and why it is important to him, and he spends some time with a young boy who reminds us all the value of what we are playing for.

And then... we're on to our next task...

As contestants, we always tried to deduce what the task would be before we were told, simply based on the location of the shoot (even though nine times out of 10 the location had NOTHING to do with the eventual task). This week we were taken to an old and ornate church on Manhattan's Riverside Drive. The gothic architecture set the stage for a task with a medieval theme. We were told we would be writing, directing, producing and starring in a 15-minute performance for Medieval Times, the entertainment restaurant.

Team Unanimous immediately suggests that Penn would be the most qualified as PM given his performance experience and his knowledge of minstrel-type entertainment. He accepts. Team Forte will be lead by Lisa.

What you didn't see during the episode is how adeptly Penn delegated the task out to each member of the men's team. Immediately upon learning of our task, Penn handed each person VERY clear and specific responsibilities and goals. He knew exactly what he wanted and exactly who he wanted for each task. It was very impressive.

Team Forte, on the other hand, pile in to two separate vans and right away have trouble communicating. Lisa, who had been frustrated by the interrupting and lack of respectful communication in last week's project, immediately sets down some ground rules for how she wants her team to operate this week. No interrupting! As the Medieval Times location is in New Jersey, Lisa comes up with the clever idea of using Teresa's home state to their advantage and bills Team Forte's concept as The Un-Real Housewives of New Jersey. The ladies love it.

After meeting with the creative director for Medieval Times, Penn settles in on a broad concept that highlights the "celebrity" of each individual team member. He will juggle and eat fire. Arsenio will tell jokes. I will sing. George's performance will nod towards Star Trek... and, of course, Paul Sr. will provide an appropriate bike for the occasion! It's a broad concept that only has a thin plot line, but it has something in it for everyone; and Team Unanimous is continuing with our love-fest from the previous week, so everyone gets along and agrees right away.

Meanwhile, the ladies are getting down to the task of assigning responsibilities and parts to each member. Lisa delegates the acting roles to Tia, Patricia and Debbie who each have extensive acting experience, but the rest of the planning seems to be handled by Aubrey. Debbie suggests that Aubrey is "second in command." When it comes time to hand a task to Victoria, Lisa gives her the responsibility of "stage director." Lisa tells her that it is a very important job. I'm not sure that that is not a line of bull... in this situation, stage director is not horribly crucial... but Lisa sells it. (Either Lisa is trying to make Victoria feel important, or she's playing the game very well. Only she knows!)

By now, the men are rehearsing for the fight scenes that will be a part of the show. Lou is a perfectionist when it comes to his roles, and he would have rehearsed that fight scene for 24 hours straight if he could have; but we were on a tight schedule. It took several people to pull him away from his sword and shield so we could move on.

Team Forte is, by now, headed down to check out the costumes. With all of the fancy clothing available, it can only be expected that the ladies were excited about trying things on and discussing what they would wear. "Frau" Lampanelli, however, is insistent upon maintaining order and sorta flips out on the ladies who couldn't seem to stop interrupting. Call her a "tyrant" if you want, Patricia. But, as Lisa says, "It's not [her] job to teach you how to not be an interrupting pain in [her] ass" (best line of the night thus far!).

In rehearsals, Victoria is still not happy about being the director and even goes so far as to say she is not good at it and doesn't think she should be the director, but she soldiers on in the sound and light booth, trying to make sure all of the cues are called at the right times while the ladies do their thing in the arena.

Team Unanimous, on the other hand, does not have anyone in the sound booth. In a shining example of how unimportant that position may have actually been, on the men's team I had written out a script that was so precise the sound and light operators could simply follow along and use what was being said on stage to know when the lights or sound was to be called. The only condition was... the actors needed to follow the script exactly or the sound and light folks would not know when to do their thing. George is a classically trained performer and therefore wanted so badly to memorize his lines instead of reading them that he didn't look at his script during rehearsal. That caused things to be pretty bumpy along the way and caused a lot of light and sound cues to be missed on our side as well.

In fact, those missed cues were only the beginning of Team Unanimous' problems during rehearsal. When Dee began to ride out sidesaddle on his horse, I began to play the tambourine that was a part of the performance. Dee's horse had never heard the sound of a tambourine before and was spooked by it, rearing up and throwing Dee off. His finger caught in the saddle and snapped as he came down! I saw him fall off of the horse, but at first thought that the situation was minor and decided to continue on with the performance (we were being timed!), but I soon realized we had a serious situation on our hands. (No pun intended!)

But, as they say, a bad dress rehearsal leads to a good performance! And such was the case for the men. George realized the importance of the cues and gladly held his script up to read from it. Dee bravely forced himself through the show despite a severely broken finger. His horse did not buck and the show went off without a hitch. (Side note: We were unable to sing any songs that were copyrighted. So, when it came time for me to sing, all that I was really able to sing was a long riff and some self written lyrics to the old hymn Greensleeves!)

The women didn't fare quite as well in their performance. As expected, some of the sound cues that Victoria was responsible for calling were missed, and Team Forte had a rockier start than they would have hoped. But they pulled it together and performed an entertaining show... (especially entertaining for the straight men and gay women in the audience, because Debbie accidentally showed her hoo-ha!)

In the Boardroom the fireworks begin!

Victoria tries to remain calm about her disagreements with Lisa, but the Trumps are so good at stirring the turd. It doesn't take long for a big stink to happen in the room, and before you know it, Lisa and Victoria are both yelling and crying!

On the men's team, Penn did something unique and something you didn't see on camera. In an attempt to be humane and kind, Penn told us before we went in the Boardroom who he would be selecting as the two weakest players. That maybe turned out to not be the best idea because it gave Lou some time to get angry and prepare his argument. And Lou went after Penn in earnest. Whether Penn was too afraid to fight back or too respectful to argue with Lou is to be determined. Either way, he just sat there and took it.

In the end, the men win again and we head back to the war room while the women duke it out.

Lisa brings back Dayana and Victoria. There is plenty of screaming and crying, but only between Lisa and Victoria. Dayana sits there not saying much, just watching the other two fight. It's funny to see her look back and forth at the two on either side of her like she is watching a tennis match! Ha ha.

When it's over, Victoria gets fired, but between you and me, it certainly doesn't leave Dayana in the clear. In fact, it paves the way for one of the greatest rivalries in Apprentice history. The Lisa vs. Dayana war will provide MUCH entertainment in the weeks to come. That's a promise.

Next week, we'll see if Dayana can get a bit of the respect she hasn't received thus far. And, we'll see if George's love of fancy costumes might come in handy for him. They are both on "full display" next week!

Don't miss it!!

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The Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Let the Jousting Begin!

EPISODE 02 | AIRED FEB 26, 2012

'The Celebrity Apprentice' recap: Let the Jousting Begin!

While staging a Medieval Times show, the women suffer self-inflicted wounds

By Dalton Ross | Published Feb 27, 2012

I have been watching The Celebrity Apprenticefor five years now. Millions of people share my passion for the program. Due to my somewhat unexplainable obsession and borderline masochistic insistence on reliving every single detail in recap form, I suppose you could say I've become something of a Founding Dean here at Celebrity Apprentice University. And in that post, I can tell you that there is one thing that every Celebrity Apprentice viewer needs to have to truly appreciate this unique program. It is one of the most important words in the English language, and can be expressed in exactly seven syllables: D-I-G-N-I-T-Y. Wait, no. That's not right. I mean, that's the last thing any of us have. Sorry. Let me try that again. G-O-O-D-T-A-S-T-E. Hmmm, that's not it either. That one's not even seven syllables, for crying out loud. Think. Think…Oh! Got it! N-O-S-H-A-M-E. I would call Celebrity Apprentice a guilty pleasure, however I don't even feel guilty about it! I just spent two hours watching a show with James Lipton spelling. James Lipton!!! And I'm gonna tell you something else: I thought he was awesome.

Sure, at first, I was bummed that we were losing Boardroom Dominatrix Ivanka for a dude who asks narcissistic actors to describe their favorite sound for a living. And then it hit me: What could be a better addition to this show then a dude who asks narcissistic actors to describe their favorite sound for a living? It's brilliant! "You may be wondering why I qualify as an advisor," Lipton told the contestants. "It's because I happen to be a Knight." And while Lipton then went on to proclaim himself a Knight of France, I can't help but be skeptical and wonder if the only way this guy is going to become an actual Knight is to marry either Jordan or Jonathan from New Kids on the Block. (Side note: You have to hand it to the producers for printing his name as "Sir James Lipton" on screen. Perfect.)

The absurd and over-the-top seriousness that Lipton brought to the proceedings was downright hysterical, as was his declaration to Trump that "Thank God I'm not you — with two exceptions. I'm a pilot; I'd like your airplane. And I'm in television; I'd like some of your ratings." Lipton! Your fawning interviews on Bravo make me want to punch a hole in my TV set, rip out any electrical wires, use the electrical wires to strangle myself until my eyes pop out of my head, and then stomp on my eyes until they are puddles of goo so that I never have to watch you on television again. But you have an open invitation to appear on this show whenever you please. That's P-L-E-A-S-E.

Here are a few other things that had me jazzed about last night's episode of Celebrity Apprentice.

An MIA Adam Corolla

I used to bitch and scream when celebrities would sign up to be on this show then disappear for a task and not get fired. "That is so unfair!" I would yell to my cat Clawed sitting next to me, who would then roll her eyes and go pee on my laptop bag. But then it hit me: Of course it's not fair. Nothing on this show is fair. In fact, it's perfect! It only adds to the What-the #&%@ nature of the entire thing.

The best part about Adam's disappearance is that there was no family emergency or prior contractual obligation that he needed to attend to. It was a wedding he was hosting at his house. Not his wedding, mind you. Somebodyelse's wedding. What's next? "Sorry, Mr. Trump, I promised my niece's boyfriend I would help him with his algebra homework so I'm going to have to sit this next one out. Oh, also, I'll need immunity from being fired while I skip the entire task. Thanks!" The fact that no one has been fired while bailing on a task — even when their team has lost — has me wondering why a contestant doesn't just come up with an excuse to miss every single project until the finale. Apparently, on this show, you can't lose if you don't compete. Of course, Adam was not the only MIA member of the men's team. Did Michael Andretti say a single word this entire episode? That dude got less screen time than the M&Ms Chief Chocolate Officer!

Lisa Lampanelli vs. Victoria Gotti

Women are having a tough time on reality TV these days. The ladies on Survivor can't win a single challenge against the men because they are too busy at each other's throats. And the females on Celebrity Apprentice are faring no better. However, their pain is our gain. I was worried about Lisa Lampanelli on this show because often comedians just come on to be wacky and crack some jokes and don't fully invest in the game, but make no mistake — Lisa Lampanelli is invested. As Project Manager for the women in their task to put on a 12 to 15 minute Medieval Times show, she barked at Debbie Gibson for interrupting her, said that the only thing Dayana was competent at was "sitting and looking good," and yelled at the entire team for being excited about their costumes. In short, she was incredible. Lisa Lampanelli should be Project Manager for every task from here on out — for both teams.

But she was at her absolute best while feuding with the lovely and talented Victoria Gotti. Perhaps worried that the sight of Victoria Gotti might scare young children in the audience, Lisa made her stage manager. Of course, Victoria is used to people named Gotti being the boss, so she felt marginalized by being kept off the Medieval (or is it "mid-evil"?) Times main stage. (After being called out publicly by Teresa for spelling her name wrong last week, the last thing I should be doing is taking someone else to task for their spelling. Besides, it could have been worse, like…no, actually it could not have been worse.)

It all blew up in the Boardroom when Lisa hammered the mob boss' daughter for trying to defect to the men's team and missing her cue on a trumpet flourish during the show. She was relentless and unsparing, even causing Gotti to cry at one point. "I am not arguing with you because you are inarguable because you have lies made up in your head, so enjoy the delusion of your life," Lisa told Victoria after the ladies had lost and the two and Dayana were in the reception area waiting to come back in and see who gets fired.

When they did come back in, the barrage continued with Lisa in such a state that she even managed to make herself cry. The whole spectacle — complete with a James Lipton spelling bee — was irresistible, and in the end, Victoria was indeed fired and Lisa had earned herself a place on the Celebrity ApprenticeAll-Star season.

Everyone Overstating the Cultural Impact ofThe Real Housewives of New Jersey

I get why Lisa decided to go with a Unreal Housewives of Camelot theme, playing off ofThe Real Housewives of New Jersey. After all, they were in New Jersey and had one of the stars on the show on their team. I get it. And I get Teresa boasting that, "Right now one of the hottest shows on TV is the New Jersey Housewives." After all, she is on a show hosted by Donald Trump, and if Trump has taught these people anything it's that you always overstate the importance of your own program. But what's with everyone else walking around under the assumption that RHONJ is the be all and end all? "The Real Housewives is the biggest show on television," claimed Aubrey. "It has, like, 5 million viewers." First off, the show never got 5 million viewers, and secondly, if it did, and 5 million viewers was the "biggest show on television" then television has a hell of a problem on its hands. Geez, The Celebrity Apprentice even gets more than 5 million viewers!

But Aubrey wasn't the only one. "What's bigger than The Real Housewives of New Jersey?" Tia inquired rhetorically. Ummmm, well, for one thing, freakin Work It, perhaps the most embarrassing sitcom in the history of sitcoms. That's right, Work It even got more viewers than RHONJ. I'm not trying to dis and dismiss the cultural relevance of the show. It certainly has done well for Bravo and I, as a current inhabitant of New Jersey, have watched my fair share of it, but let's not get carried away here.

Don't make The Hulk Angry. You Wouldn't Like Him When He's Angry

Other than Dee Snider breaking his finger (and than having to listen to Clay Aiken compose a song about his broken finger), there was not a lot of drama on the men's team. (Damn you, Penn Jillette for running things so efficiently!) Until, that is, Trump asked Penn to name the two people he would bring back with him into the Boardroom should he lose. When Penn named Lou Ferrigno, the Hulk flipped out and morphed into an angry robot seemingly capable of only blurting out the words "110 percent" over and over again. Even back in the suite after being declared victors, Lou told off the entire team and warned them not to name him as a weak link again. What, are you gonna argue with a former Mr. Universe?

Trump Taking Time Out From His Busy Schedule To Hit on The Contestants

It wasn't shocking for Donald Trump to suggest that Miss Universe ride in nude like Lady Godiva. Frankly we would be disappointed if he didn't. But where Trump went above and beyond the call of duty was when smack dab in the middle of a disagreement over whether Victoria Gotti had, in fact, threatened to quit the team, Trump said —apropos of nothing — "You look very good tonight, Aubrey. I have to say. Do you mind if I say that? Was that's sexist?" Yes, it was. And don't you dare stop doing it.

Who's to say The Donald is above putting out feelers to the men's side as well? Sure, he may claim that was a mistake when he dubbed Lou "The Incredible Hunk," but we know better. In the immortal words of George Takei — oh my.

Trump Taking Time Out From His Busy Schedule To Offer Rock Solid Medical Advice

So it seems Clay Aiken's tambourine spooked Dee Snider's horse, causing the Twisted Sister frontman to "severely fracture" his finger. "It's snapped at the base so they think I'm gonna need a pin," he informed Trump, who then took it upon himself to offer his own expert medical opinion. "Don't listen to the doctor," he replied. "Just let it heal." WHAT?!? Just let it heal? This is based on what? I don't see any X-rays on the table. No medical degrees hanging on the wall. Not even a Purell hand-sanitizing dispenser anywhere on the premises. I love how Trump makes this assessment based on absolutelyno knowledge of the situation whatsoever. The "Don't listen to the doctor" part is even better. HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW WHO THE DOCTOR IS!!! That entire exchange pretty much sums up why Donald Trump is the most amazing man on the face of the planet.

Clay Aiken: Beauty Pageant Judge

Clay Aiken (on Aubrey O'Day): "I think she's so insecure. I don't think she likes not being the prettiest one on the cast.

Arsenio Hall: "Are you saying Dayana is prettier that Aubrey?"

Clay Aiken: "I'm saying Victoria is prettier than Aubrey."

That's like the biggest burn in the history of burns.

What The Hell is Amanda The Receptionist Writing in That Notepad?

As far as I'm concerned, Amanda the phony baloney receptionist has the greatest job in the world — to simply sit there while contestants wait and stare at each other awkwardly. Occasionally, like in this last episode, the players bitch and yell at each other, and that must be fun to watch too. What does Amanda do while sitting there at the desk? Nothing really, except write notes to herself in her cute little notebook. What exactly is she writing in there anyway? Is she taking shorthand on anything that is said to report back to The Donald? Is she writing down a list of all the things that she could be accomplishing in life were she not stuck sitting at her phony desk watching quasi-famous people embarrass themselves on national television? Is she penning love letters to Adrian the elevator operator to hold up for him to see in that brief moment when the doors open to let in a just fired celebrity? (So close…yet so far away.) I have no idea, but I do know she has the best seat in the house. And for that, Amanda the phony baloney receptionist, I salute you.

And I salute all of you for soldiering through another episode and recap with me. Special thanks to Sir James Lipton for being himself and to Debbie Gibson for flashing her hoo-ha to the entire Mid-Evil Times audience. Well done! Also, someone put an All Points Bulletin out for Michael Andretti, who has been more invisible than Dayana Mendoza's body suit. Now it's your turn. Whom are you loving and loathing and what was the most gloriously absurd moment of the week? Hit the message boards to let us know! And for more Celebrity Apprentice news and views, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. Until next week: Cluck, Cluck…Splash!

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Teams tasked with producing Medieval Times stage shows

by: Dan Hyman

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In a rather un-Trumpian move, Celebrity Apprentice ran its second episode on a night it was sure to take a ratings beat-down. After all, the 84th annual Academy Awards, a show in which actual celebrities were featured, aired simultaneously. Nonetheless, we imagine Donald Trump's ego prevented him from postponing an episode, no matter the circumstance.

The second episode opens as both teams wait to see which member of the women's squad has been canned. To no one's surprise, former model Cheryl Tiegs gets the ax. But Victoria Gotti, who was called out in last episode's boardroom, issues a stern warning to her teammates – specifically, actress Tia Carrere, who blasted her over the last task. "It's on, baby!" Gotti snarls. "Ya'll better watch out!"

As is standard procedure, last week's winning project manager – in this case, American Chopper big dog Paul Teutul Sr. – delivers a check to his charity. In this instance, it's actually quite touching to see such a gnarly dude getting emotional as he gives a $495K check made out to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to 11-year-old Gabriel, who sadly is suffering from leukemia.

With the remaining contestants gathered – that is, aside from Adam Carolla, who we learn had to host a wedding and will therefore be absent for this challenge (um, OK?) – Trump, joined by trumpeters and a guest mentor, Inside The Actor's Studio's grand enunciator James Lipton, informs the teams of their next task. Both teams will be performing at thy-place-of-greasy-chicken-and-wenches, Medieval Times. The teams must create a 12-to-15-minute performance that will be judged on creativity and overall presentation; the audience will ultimately vote to determine the winning squad.

For the men, assigning a project manager is a no-brainer: Penn Jillette, who has spent the past two decades being handsomely paid for putting on tacky shows, is naturally the best fit. The women just as swiftly agree on comedian Lisa Lampanelli, who feels confident running the show, as she is "on stage an hour and a half a night." But for the ladies, this is where any camaraderie ends.

Separated into two cars, the women's squad conference calls via speakerphone. Lampanelli is immediately turned off by her teammates' constant need to interrupt. "There's gonna be no interrupting during this task!" she barks, later adding, "I'm not here to teach you not to be an interrupting pain in my ass!" With tempers (tentatively) in check, the women – seeing as how The Real Housewives of New Jersey's Teresa Giudice is on their team and the performance is taking place in New Jersey – decide it best to theme their show "The Unreal Housewives of Camelot." Really, the theme serves as a foreboding sign of the Housewife-esque drama that's to come.

As was the case last week, the men are noticeably more in tune with one another. Perhaps it's because of their humor. "I've been to Medieval Times more than I've been to L.A. strip clubs," Arsenio Hall says proudly. "That's a lot!"

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, who's yet to show any signs of his typical eccentricity, tells his teammates their show should be "big, gay, loud and fun." They therefore decide to dress the singer up in drag and deem him "Lady Dee." The men's show, as Jillette later admits, doesn't have a "real plot," but the team members nonetheless work on perfecting its scenes. Lou Ferrigno gets giddy that he's using a sword; Teutul Sr. plans to utilize a medieval-themed chopper (is there going to be a task in which he doesn't use a chopper?!?); Clay Aiken will sing an impossibly high note.

The women also assign roles for the show. But Gotti is not happy. Lampanelli, after assigning acting roles to other team members, gives her the task of being "creative director." To which the mob daughter feels as if she's been put "in a closet." The drama continues: we see Gotti practicing sword-fighting while donning a Louis Vuitton messenger bag, and when Lampanelli asks Gotti to research medieval language, Gotti types "mid-evil" into Google, much to the comedian's dismay.

As Day Two begins and the teams head back to Medieval Times to rehearse before showtime, we learn that Gotti told Lampanelli she wanted to join the men's team; she felt she was being under-utilized. Lampanelli reassures her that as the creative director she'll be a "gangster in the booth," and all seems to be well. Rehearsals are shaky for both teams, however. On the men's side, George Takei is having trouble with the script, and Dee Snider breaks his finger after being thrown from a horse. The women, meanwhile, can't seem to get on the same page with their script and cues.

After nearly an hour, we are at last treated to both teams' actual performances. The men's show is nearly flawless: Snider performs despite his injury, looking, as Takei says, "lovely" as a woman" – although apparently not lovely enough for Ferrigno, as the muscle man mock-kills himself rather than kissing the singer.

The women's show gets off to a rocky start. Gotti doesn't cue up a trumpet as Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza comes out riding a horse while wearing a nude body suit, and Lampanelli awkwardly begins her announcing duties amid the crowd's silence. Other highlights include Debbie Gibson flashing her derrière to the child-heavy crowd and Giudice flipping a table in a nod to her famous Real Housewives blowup.

In the boardroom, the good times really get going. Lampanelli feels "confident, but not cocky" about her team's performance. Quickly, however, the claws come out. Gotti says she was "really hurt" by Lampanelli dismissing her as a vital team member. "Don't expect me to be your mother!" Lampanelli responds. The men, by contrast, all have crazy love for Jillette's performance as project manager. But when Trump forces the oafish comedian to name two players he'd bring back into the boardroom if his team lost (he picks Ferrigno and Takei), all love goes out the window – at least from Ferrigno, who says he feels insulted that Jillette "underestimated" him.

After James Lipton praises the work of both squads – hard to imagine he believes what he's saying – the winning team is announced. By a score of 550 to 363, the men, for the second week in a row, are victorious. They are dismissed, and the women are left to battle it out once again.

As the women begin to bicker, Lipton looks utterly terrified. Gotti begins to cry, and Trump offers her a backhanded compliment: "You do have a heart." The tension, specifically between Lampanelli and Gotti, is palpable. Lampanelli decides to bring back Gotti and Mendoza to the boardroom; Lampanelli says she feels Mendoza, like Gotti, didn't contribute much to the team effort. Even as they wait to be called back into the boardroom by our favorite TV assistant, Amanda, Lampanelli and Gotti fire verbal slingshots at one another. At one point, Lampanelli mouths, "Shut the fuck up!"

Back in the boardroom, Mendoza can only laugh as Lampanelli and Gotti get catty. The obvious high point comes as Lipton, in a gem of a- oliloquy, says the defining factor in this task was deciding who had that "seven-syllable word" he tells all his students: P-A-S-S-I-O-N. Mendoza admits that Lampanelli, not Gotti, has more energy and would be a better team asset going forward. Trump sees no other choice but to let Gotti go. "There's no question you were thinking about quitting," Trump says. "I hate that!" Gotti departs, awkwardly hugging Mendoza and leaving 16 contestants to duke it out.

Next Week: With Lampanelli having unleashed her inner beast, the competition promises to be quite juicy going forward. In next week's preview, we learn that both teams will design a window display for Trump's daughter Ivanka's fashion line. Seriously, though, when will anything dramatic happen with the men's team? It could be next week: Snider apparently may have to quit due to his injured finger. Stay tuned.

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"Celebrity Apprentice," Season 5, Episode 2: TV Recap

By Jeff Yang

Hey, it's Monday, and Monday means it's time for your next dose of Celebrity Apprentice love! Although we should probably refer to this week's episode, "Getting Medieval," by its real name: "The Episode No One In Their Right Mind Watched." After all, it was up against the Oscars.

THE OSCARS. (Also the NBA All-Star Game, but realistically, the audience overlap between Celebri-Prentice and the NBA All-Stars is approximately zero?)

But that only makes this recap action that much more critical, for all of you who spent the evening mesmerized by the Academy's epic celebration of

blackface and French people and J-Lo's left side and Angelina's right leg, amirite? (Wow, Angelina's right leg has over 15,000 Twitter followers!)

Fortunately, for fans of massive self-indulgence and celebrity body parts, this week's CA has plenty to offer. Yes, "Getting Medieval" promises to serve up a heaping helping of rivalry and chivalry, plus a little crotchy-flashy-booby-slippy action for the raincoat-wearers in the cheap seats. How well does it deliver? Well let's see!

The episode starts off with a quick recap of

last week's premiere, wherein King Moustache, Paul Teutel Sr., demonstrated the frightening ability to make a phone call and have a random someone back up a dump truck containing $300,000. The Men's Team's crushing victory in fundraising meant that Team Forte had to kick a chick to the curb, and Cheryl Tiegs was given the boot, basically for fulfilling supermodel stereotypes. They were making sandwiches, and she couldn't lay out the cheese fast enough! In her defense, however, even retired supermodels are not too familiar with this thing we humans call food.

With Tiegs rudely bumped from Trumpland, the women found themselves short a member for this week's task, in which each team was asked to write and perform a 15-minute skit for the audiences at theme restaurant Medieval Times. Consulting them in their efforts? "Inside the Actors Studio" host James Lipton, who puts on a game expression but occasionally still allows flashes of WTF? to slip across his face. Trump's blackmail photo collection must be extensive!

On the hotseat this week: The cadaverous Victoria Gotti, who narrowly escaped ejection in the premiere because of the implicit threat of cement shoes, and because she seemed marginally more useful than Tiegs. One of the upcoming tasks might involve contracting or sanitation! Also, Our Man George, who hasn't imposed his steely StarTrekian will on anyone to date. We're still waiting on Takei to go spaceballs on the rest of the crew, like Sulu did in "

The Naked Time" when he stripped to the waist and started cold attacking people with a fencing foil. And this episode has swords! So, hope springs eternal.

Speaking of "The Naked Time," the Donald spends a lot of boardroom time talking about people getting naked, focusing mostly on poor little Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza. Donald Trump owns half of the Miss Universe Pageant, and probably has a clause giving him a fixed quota of totally sexist pig statements he's allowed to make over the course of a given queen's reign without threat of legal action. He burns off four or five an episode. This time, he tells Miss Mendoza that she would look great riding around on a horse like Lady Godiva, you know, Lady Godiva, she rode around in da nooood. "I think at that point the men's team would just give up," he drools.

"You want 'em to give up? I'll threaten to ride around nude," cracks Lisa Lampanelli in response.

And with that, Lampanelli ends up volunteering to project manage the task for Team Forte, saying she's the most qualified person for the task: "I'm on stage an hour and a half a night all by myself. I can do a 15 minute show with seven other broads."

For Team Unanimous, the unanimous pick is the wizard, Penn Jillette. Shrewd choice, as it turns out! Penn's insight: Each team has 15 minutes to impress the Medieval Times crowd, which also happens to be five times the attention span of the average American. It's also the length of time that most of the team members have to be famous! So screw writing a plot: Why not put on a show that focuses on vaguely recognizable people assaulting each other as gratuitously and noisily as possible? Hey, it could be called Medieval Apprentice!

Meanwhile, Team Forte decides to take the high road through the Middle Ages, assuming your idea of the "high road" is an elaborate parody of "Real Housewives of New Jersey," featuring the girls as would-be brides of King Donald of Trump (played by Lampanelli in bad hair and orange face makeup). Wide-eyed moppet Audrey O'Day somehow ends designating herself Lampanelli's deputy manager, and the Lamp O'Day team proceeds to frogmarch the other girls through the process of learning stage combat and sewing together age- and era-appropriate costumes. Maybe not as carefully as they should have! During the girls' skit, which involves a fair amount of acrobatics and swordplay, Lady Debbie of Gibson ends up casting the magical spell Freeshow, flipping up her skirts as she takes a tumble to reveal a fabric-free jumbled mosaic. "I may have shown the audience a little more than I wanted," she acknowledges. Then Baroness Tia of Carrere takes a mighty swing with her broadsword and pulls a J-Lo. At this point, a majority of the screen is composed of oversized pixels! And though the dads are cheering, half the kids in the audience have had their paper crowns rammed down to block their innocent eyes. How's this going to play in the vote count?

The men face issues as well: George Takei can't remember his lines, so is forced to read them off a long scroll of paper. Clay Aiken, skipping around with a tambourine, causes the horse carrying Twisted Sister's Dee Snider to rear up, with the end result that Snider – Team Unanimous's ingénue – fractures his finger. Can the show go on? It can, and does. Everything goes smoothly, and the men's performance goes off without a hitch.

The boardroom is tense. Team Forte is once again fairly confident in their victory – and, once again, broadly irritated at Victoria Gotti, who has turned in another demi-arsed day of work. Though she has an excuse here: Project manager Lampanelli, for all of her claims to fear possible Gambino vendetta, had clearly decided Gotti was deadweight, and assigned her the critical role of doing nothing and staying out of the way. This leads to three-way altercation between Lampanelli, Dayana Mendoza – irritated at being told to just shut up and look hot – and Gotti, who shockingly breaks down in tears. Lisa Lampanelli made Victoria Gotti break down in tears! I think that earns her a level-up: Queen of Mean, I hereby dub thee "Empress of Enmity."

When the results show that the guys' noise and lights and smoke and mirrors has soundly beaten the girls' more structured performance, 558 votes to 363, Team Forte must once again offer up a babe to Trumplestiltskin. Lampanelli drags Mendoza and Gotti in with her, and as you guessed it, Gotti gets rubbed out, with prejudice. And so moving into Episode Three, the damsels are down a pair. Tune in next week to see if they can finally score a hit on the undefeated dudes.

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Victoria Gotti's "Celebrity Apprentice" Prediction: "Clay Aiken Will Win"

First Posted: 02/27/2012 4:16 pm Updated: 02/27/2012 5:34 pm

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Victoria Gotti was fired Sunday night on "The Celebrity Apprentice," cutting short her stint on Donald Trump's reality show. Her elimination was a shame for viewers who hoping to see some major drama erupt between Gotti and "Real Housewife" of New Jersey Teresa Giudice. But stopping by "The Wendy Williams Show" (weekdays on Fox) Gotti was gracious about her time on the show, and offered up a surprising prediction for who she thinks could end up winning it all.

On the much-ballyhooed rift with Giudice that never really materialized, Gotti explained that, "Teresa and I had a kind of mix-up in the beginning. But then we clear the air and become good friends," she said. Gotti was also diplomatic about comedian Lisa Lampanelli, who she butted heads with on the show. "I don't have any thoughts ... If you want to win that hard, take it, go for it, I'll give it to ya."

When Wendy asked Gotti who her pick was to win it all, her answer seemed to surprise the audience. "Definitely Clay Aiken," she said, as the crowd gasped in surprise. "You know what guys, you have to understand, you're seeing the mean side of people and you're thinking, 'You have to be the meanest to win it.' In the end, that gets you so far, then you have to use your brain."

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Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings: Lou Hulks Up in the Boardroom

Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings: Lou Hulks Up In The Boardroom

Author:

Jessica Grabert and Mack Rawdenpublished: 2012-02-27 17:40:49

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Celebrity Apprentice left New York this week, and as always happens when a show goes on location, things got a little weird. James Lipton showed up to judge in place of Ivanka Trump—a trade-off that is far less pleasing on the eyes—likely due to the fact he has been knighted in France and, thus, owns his own armor. Why would Celebrity Apprentice producers go to the trouble of lugging in Lipton and a heavy hunk of metal? It's all in the name of theme, baby. This weekCelebrity Apprentice went Medieval on our asses, popping over to Jersey to the campus of Medieval Times.

For the challenge this week, each team composed and learned a short segment that could work within the arena at Medieval Times. The audience determined the winner of the challenge; so, the theme needed to be able to encompass multiple audiences and age demographics to earn the most votes. Penn Jillette went to task for the men's team and Lisa Lampanelli stepped up for the women. With both of the project managers' past experience in production, they seemed evenly matched at the start. Well, excepting Penn's capacity to swallow fire.

The men put together a family friendly concept that had Dee Snider cross-dressing as a beautiful blonde lady and George Takei calling roll from a podium up high. Lou Ferrigno nabbed a horse and fought Paul Teutul Sr., who showed up on a shiny motorcycle. Arsenio Hall and Penn cracked jokes and led the show. The women also took the comedic approach, but amped up the sexy, throwing Dayana Mendoza into a nude body suit and assigning each of the women roles as "unreal housewives of Camelot." Things seemed to be running smoothly, and thenCelebrity Apprentice became the Victoria Gotti show.

Victoria felt left out of the group from the very beginning. There was no room for the 49-year-old in the short costumes and the gymnastics-based routine Lampanelli had put together with the help of Aubrey O'Day, who was surprisingly vocal this week. After being called out in the bottom a week prior, one would think Gotti would have come out with fervor and passion and been willing to accomplish anything to help the team and stay in the game this week. That level of investment was completely missing, leaving Victoria to be a real pain in an already-stressed project manager's arse.

Back in the boardroom, viewers got a brief reprieve from the dynamics of Lisa and Victoria clamping on to one another's throats when dear Donald Trump asked Penn who he would bring back should the men's team lose. After nicely stating he would bring back Lou and George because they had not shown multiple skill sets thus far, Lou freaked out like a bitter bear, yelling at Penn and everyone on the men's team that they had "better not bring his name up again," not once, but multiple times. The event was so explosive it took the limelight away from Dee, who had broken his finger mid-challenge and stayed on to complete this week's task.

In the end, the women lost, due to an unstable work environment, poor communication from Lisa's end, and the men having an overall better concept. Eventually Victoria was kicked off after James Lipton claimed Lisa had "P.A.S.S.I.O.N," but it could have just as easily been Lisa on the chopping block. Too bad it wasn't Lou.

The Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings are an ordered compilation of weekly lists put together by TV Blend writers Jessica Grabert and Mack Rawden. Each week after viewing the episode, they each rank the competitors in order. Seventeen points are given for a first place vote, and this week, two were given for a last place vote. Two competitors have already been eliminated; therefore, those people automatically occupy the bottom slots. Here is how this week's voting panned out, complete with analysis on how the celebrities might fare moving forward.

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The Favorites

#1) Penn Jillette (34): The carnival-like atmosphere of Medieval Times played perfectly to Penn's strengths this week. I'm not sure there will be another task all season so uniquely suited to his abilities. As such, it's not a surprise he was the winning project manager, but I'm still impressed at how effortlessly he delegated responsibilities, encouraged his workers and balanced the team's time. Apart from the hard feelings he caused in the boardroom, which were understandable, Penn's time at the top couldn't have gone more smoothly.

#2) Dee Snider (31): There are two types of injuries on a competition show—the type that require an immediate trip to the hospital and possible withdrawal from the competition, and the type that can be worked through. Many competitors with the latter injuries might use the injury as an excuse to take a day off; however, those who are willing to stick around and work through intense pain are showing a work ethic and an ability to follow through that is only found in winners. This week, Dee broke his finger and continued to do his job and work with the horse that caused his injury. We have yet to see him take on the role of project manager, but if his leadership skills are as good as his work ethic, we expect to see him go far.

#3) Patricia Velasquez (29): Patricia didn't do a whole lot this week, but she did do exactly what was asked. It's hard to fault a woman for not fighting with Lisa for more responsibility, and it's impossible to fault Patricia for the team's loss. She once again handled herself with dignity and just the right amount of aggressiveness in the boardroom. I would listen to arguments concerning who has been the best woman so far, but I don't think any conversation would be complete without bringing in Patricia. With her turn as project manager already out of the way, I can't see her being eliminated anytime soon.

#3) Debbie Gibson (29): Debbie Gibson is an eloquent speaker. In the Celebrity Apprentice competition, she has so far utilized her ability to harness words and rise above the catty infighting of many of the other females. She has also kept her hands busy and been a contributing, creative member of each of the tasks. If Gibson succeeds in making it as far as we think she can, it will be due to her ability to navigate the treacherous waters of biting comments from her teammates. We can't wait to see how creative her first task as project manager is.

#5) Adam Carolla (27): It is a bit unfair that Adam Carolla is ranked this high this week. In fact, due to a prior obligation, he did not even compete in Week 2's challenge. Since a Celebrity Apprentice contestant's full body of work on the show factors into rankings each week, we judged Adam on the skills he has exhibited in the past. Being funny, creative, and loud have worked well on the men's team and Adam has proved his ability to utilize each of these core strengths this season. Still, he has a lot to prove next week when he returns. We're thinking it could be a good opportunity for Adam to nab the project manager position.

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The Contenders

#6) Aubrey O'Day (21): Aubrey O'Day has more weaknesses than many of the women. She has shown vanity, exhibited a jealous streak for not being the most attractive woman, and made petty comments about the other contestants. Yet she ranks this high because she has been willing to be vocal, has stepped up as a creative force without being asked, and has interjected herself into a main component of every challenge. She might not be the most self-aware cookie in the box, but she certainly is resourceful, likely due to her experience on an earlier competition show, Making the Band.

#6) Paul Teutul, Sr. (21): In addition to Penn, Paul Sr. is the only contestant who has won money for his charity thus far. He may have been a bit too hard on George during his time at the top, but in the history of Celebrity Apprentice project managers, he's still clearly in the top half. Working hard as always this week, he played his part well in the production. Thus, we know he can be a pretty effective latter and a worthwhile contributor in a more menial capacity.

#8) Teresa Giudice (20): Teresa Giudice has not played out like her Real Housewives self this season, to the point where Trump even pointed out her behavior has been nothing like what audiences have seen from her in the past. Teresa has been calm and quiet, a worker bee who works hard and does what she is asked to do with fervor. We haven't seen her really step up this season, but some women take a little longer to let their inner feline out. If she can stop reigning herself in and prove she can delegate, she will likely stick around for a whole lot longer.

#9) Michael Andretti (19): For all intents and purposes, Michael was a bit of a throwaway last week. Called in as a late substitution, he did his part making sandwiches but didn't have enough time to really put his stamp on the team. That changed with this Medieval Times challenge. He didn't have any acting or microphone work to do, but he handled the lighting and the backstage directions very well. Given the fiasco that happened on the ladies' team, his work was all the more impressive.

#10) Arsenio Hall (17): In many ways, Penn and Arsenio are a great live performance team. Penn's a bit more boisterous, and Arsenio's a bit better with timing. Thus, the duo's crowd interaction had a nice balance to it. In fact, their energy may have been the single biggest factor that pushed the men to victory. More importantly, Arsenio's work also highlighted a facet of his personality that should come in handy. He's more than willing to play first, second or even third fiddle to benefit the team. Penn complimented his willingness to be a team player, and the same should have been obvious to viewers.

#11) Clay Aiken (16): Clay Aiken has been fairly effective thus far this season. He gets plenty of screen time each episode, due to his singing skills and his energetic presence. This week, he jumped around with a tambourine, he sang to get the crowd pumped up during the challenge, and he kept the men's team on track to ensure the lighting and sound guys got the right cues. Clay Aiken knows what he has and how to make use of his own skills. However, he does not always fully understand his teammates personalities or what skills those teammates possess. Expect him to stick around for a while as the helpful dude with some good ideas, but do not be surprised if a run at project manager ends up being a disaster for Aiken.

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The Dark Horses

#12) George Takei (11): George Takei is this low for the exact same reason Penn said he'd bring him back to the board room. He's made no mistakes in either of the challenges. In fact, he read his script effortlessly and beautifully during the Medieval Times performance. It's just still unclear where he might fit in for tasks down the road. I'm pretty sure, in another context, George could potentially be a great leader, but this men's team is filled with a lot of loud and boisterous individuals. They may not take direction well from someone quiet and less boisterous. We'll see.

#13) Lou Ferrigno (9): During the task itself, Lou was very good this week. As I expected, he nailed his portion of the assignment and worked very diligently to help the rest of the team. Unfortunately, he completely blew up in the boardroom when Penn said he'd bring him back. On the one hand, I understand Lou's frustration. He did nothing wrong, and if they lost, he clearly wouldn't have been the reason. On the other hand, there's a time and place to defend yourself, and following a hypothetical from Mr. Trump is not that place.

#14) Lisa Lampanelli (8): Poor Lisa. I was convinced she was going to be one of the better players this season, but her management style was a disaster. I'm pretty sure she preemptively decided the other women were going to be uncooperative, and thus, began behaving like a tyrant immediately. She should have let the girls contribute their own ideas after the task was assigned. Instead, she continually cut them off, and in efforts to prevent drama, started her own.

#14) Dayana Mendoza (8): Dayana Mendoza is a woman who is used to being listened to without having to speak loudly or insert herself into a new demographic. One can see this in the way she mishandles being brushed off by many of her other teammates. It has been rather a shame for Dayana, who actually conveyed several great ideas throughout the challenge. Without the ability to command respect from her peers or to take that disrespect with a quiet grace and work hard to turn the tide of opinion, it seems like Dayana will be an easy target for dismissal in the coming weeks.

#16) Tia Carrere (4): Honestly, I have no idea how no one has noticed how weak of a player Tia Carrere has been on the show. Last week, she stuck her foot in her mouth when Trump addressed her and this week her biggest contribution to the challenge was a nipple slip during a sword fight. I'm not saying Tia has no talent lying somewhere within her; however, if she does not show that talent soon, she will absolutely be the next person to go to the board room when the women lose a task.

Here's a look at how the ballots shook out…

Jessica:

Penn Jillette (17)

Patricia Velasquez (16)

Dee Snider (15)

Debbie Gibson (14)

Adam Carolla (13)

Paul Teutul sr. (12)

Aubrey O'Day (11)

Arsenio Hall (10)

Teresa Giudice (9)

Clay Aiken (8)

Michael Andretti (7)

George Takei (6)

Lisa Lampanelli (4)

Lou Ferrigno (3)

Tia Carrere (2)

Mack:

Penn Jillette (17)

Dee Snider (16)

Debbie Gibson (15)

Adam Carolla (14)

Patricia Velasquez (13)

Michael Andretti (12)

Teresa Giudice (11)

Aubrey O'Day (10)

Paul Teutul Sr (9)

Clay Aiken (8)

Arsenio Hall (7)

Lou Ferrigno (6)

George Takei (5)

Lisa Lampanelli (4)

Dayana Mendoza (3)

Tia Carrere (2)

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Clay's Take, Week 3: How Much is That Celebrity in the Window?

Week 3

  • Posted By Clay
  • March 4, 2012 11:00 PM

Another week; another opportunity for spectacle!

This week offered no less drama than last week, and maybe even a bit more stress, as Dayana and George both stepped up to the plate in attempts to prove that their respective teammates had been underestimating them.

But first, a reminder of the good that can be done for society by dressing up as fool, jesters and concubines! The show starts with Penn delivering two checks totaling $40K to his charity, Opportunity Village in Las Vegas. Opportunity Village ( www.opportunityvillage.org) provides workplace training, employment and recreational opportunities to individuals with intellectual disabilities. It's an incredible organization that enables some incredible people to participate in their communities. As a special educator myself (I'm playing for www.inclusionproject.org) I have a huge soft spot for Penn's charity and it was great to see the wonderful work being done there. Although, Penn will be the first to admit that he has a horrible artistic eye, so I hope he didn't screw up that guy's painting!

Then we are on to the tasks...

This week, we will be designing living window displays at Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue to showcase the spring collection of Ivanka Trump's apparel line. The stress level is a bit high already because it's the boss' daughter, but for the men, tensions are even higher because none of us are really fashionistas!

Under Dayana's direction, Forte gets right down to deciding that their concept will show women wearing Ivanka Trump at all times of the day. Aubrey jumps right in with the suggestion that they should use a large clock to show the times of the day, and the team is on board fully with the initial direction.

Over on Unanimous, George struggles at first with understanding the rules of the task. At the beginning of each task, we are all given very clearly written directions including rules, deadlines, parameters, etc. I think the stress of being project manager had made George neglect to read his rules because right away he was not on the same page with most of us. Nevertheless, Unanimous decides on a concept showing Ivanka by Day vs. Ivanka by Night. Magician Penn suggests finding twin models so we could give the illusion that the same woman is in each window at the same time. Pretty brilliant, but we had to get to work finding them. Arsenio is a ladies man for sure! Given that, he knew he would be the best qualified on the team to help choose the clothing for our models. Adam and Paul, being professional fabricators/builders, jump right in to offer to build the sets themselves. Lou attempts to offer to help, but George shoots him down. Dee will have to step out for a few hours to see the doctor and address his hand injury from last week.

One of the requirements for the window displays is that each window must have at least one team member inside, so over on Forte the women have decided that Dayana and Aubrey should be in the window displays. Debbie had offered herself, but Dayana said she was worried Debbie was too old. (Personally, I thought the way Debbie handled herself in that moment was perfect and indicative of how classy she plays this game). Instead, Debbie will help choose outfits and accessories (along with Teresa, Dayana and Patricia) and will end up serving as therapist to a panicked and high-strung Dayana throughout the task. As the team member with the most vision for this task, Aubrey heads over to the fabrication facility with Lisa and Tia.

Over at the building facility, Adam is certainly in his element. As a former carpenter, he knows his way around a wood shop and takes on even more responsibility for the fabrication than is expected of him. Meanwhile, Aubrey, Lisa and Tia quickly realize that the size of the space they have to design is far smaller than they had imagined, and they attempt to explain this to Dayana over the phone. It makes it VERY difficult when the teams are split and at two separate locations - especially for a project manager. This will cause trouble several times in the task for both teams.

While the "rougher edged" Unanimous team members are sanding, sawing, painting and hammering in Brooklyn, the "indoor workers" on our team are over at Lord & Taylor checking out the space and letting Arsenio choose the clothes. When we arrive, the women are already there and I would be lying if I said it wasn't a bit intimidating to see them poring through the outfits on display with such ease and resolve. I'm the first to admit I can barely dress myself (in fact, everything I wore on this show was pre-selected and laid out for me before I even got to NYC... I'm AWFUL with fashion), so seeing the women at such ease was a bit unnerving! Arsenio jumped right in to choosing everything (except one outfit... which I'll come back to later); Penn and I are calling everyone we know. I call all my NYC/Broadway contacts; he calls all his magician/illusionist contacts. We are hard at work looking for twins! George has very little, if anything, to do at Lord & Taylor, so he spends a great deal of his time calling over to Brooklyn to ask the others how things are going.

When Eric Trump comes to check in on us and see how things are going, I have a hard time hiding the true feelings on my face. (I think I discovered through this process that that is an area where I don't excel! ha ha)

While all of this is going on, the Forte women are scrambling to photograph models. Debbie steps up boldly and calls Ivanka directly to ask for jewelry. All the while, Dayana is still overwhelmed. So much so, that when Don Jr. arrives to consult, he comments that the women seem to have little direction and that Dayana may be in over her head.

Dee never returns from his doctor appointment because he has discovered that the fracture is far worse than he realized. Barring immediate surgery, his finger may begin healing in its current, crooked state. So Dee goes under the knife right away!

The "indoor workers" of Unanimous completed our designated roles in the task far earlier than the "tough guys" did. In hindsight, George may have been better served to travel to the fabrication location and give guidance to the other half of the team, but instead he called in some last minute direction to the other half of the team and gave himself the rest of the night off.

Over on Forte... well... they are still taking pictures! Still.

On the morning of the display reveal, those pictures that Forte spent so long taking have yet to arrive. Aubrey, ever the resourceful one, uses paper towels as place holders to make the best use of their time.

Paul Sr. has had an incredible sign created for each window, but it arrives and is designed in a way that makes mounting complicated. Adam has to problem-solve to make the installation work. Again, Lou attempts to assist, but to the others he seems to be in the way and unwelcome.

Twenty-five minutes from the big reveal and Forte STILL has no pictures. Aubrey improvises a way to save the entire window and re-conceptualize it in 10 minutes. Gotta hand it to Aubrey, she may be overbearing at times, but damn she's smart and creative.

Upstairs with Unanimous, Arsenio is handling the dressing and tailoring. I'm steaming and prepping the clothes. Penn is supervising hair and make up for the models. George is standing around. WHILE we are hard at work getting the models ready, George actually suggests that we get the models ready!! (WTH, George! What have you been doing? What do you think we are doing!?!)

When the windows are finally revealed, Unanimous' windows look exactly as we had envisioned them... except... the "night" window is so dark that it makes it almost impossible to see anything. Big booboo!

George is sort of unsteady with his presentation for Ivanka. (At one point, when he is trying to introduce me, I swear I am worried he might have had a stroke.)

George is one of the most well-versed and elegant people I've ever known, and he speaks so eloquently; but sometimes I think he works so hard to use the right words that he doesn't actually speak in a normal conversational way. He struggles so much at one point speaking to Ivanka that he insults Lou far more harshly than he means to. (Lou has the same problem I do when it comes to hiding his emotions from his face! ha ha)

The women give an extremely polished introduction to their windows. Bottom line: Forte's windows look GREAT. They really did an incredible job. I STILL have no idea what the concept is supposed to be, and I am not sure I follow the logic behind them. But, I have to admit, they really looked professional and high-end!

And in the Boardroom, the women behave professionally and high class too. They have taken the men's former tactic of being overly cordial. Although the women clearly took issue with some of Dayana's leadership skills throughout the task, they hesitate to say anything.

That's how it's best done really... No need to stir the turd amongst your teammates, if you haven't lost. Plus, no one wants to upset the project manager and perhaps incur that person's wrath if the team loses! But, it's not always that easy to get out of speaking your mind, as evidenced by my predicament this week. I try to play nice when Mr. Trump asks me my opinion of George's leadership, but my previous comments to Eric come back to bite me in the butt.

When the men lose, I find myself in the position of needing to speak my mind. And while I do enjoy George as a person, he did not supervise or oversee the team this week in a way that propelled us to success, as I attempted to say in as nice a way as possible.

In the end, George decides to bring Lou back because he felt Lou was the person who was least useful. He brought Arsenio back because he believed Arsenio's selection of the clothing was a big part of our loss. A HUGE POINT OF ORDER - The trench coat that was worn by one of the models was considered by Ivanka to be an awful choice! That trench coat outfit was the ONE outfit that I selected. Not Arsenio! So he was not at fault for it; I was. (I told you that I know nothing about fashion!) The fact that George was not even aware of who chose certain outfits is another indication of him not knowing what was going on around the team!

Lou attempts to throw Arsenio under the bus by saying he would fire him for choosing the clothes, but at this point, I'm pretty sure Lou would say anything to keep the heat off of himself! He does give 110% in the Boardroom!

In the end, all fingers point to George as the weakest member of Unanimous this week. And with a typical George Takei-style grace, George accepts his firing.

His charity, the Japanese American National Museum is a very important part of George's life. In tribute to his grace and class, please check it out at www.janm.org

Next week, folks "motors really get revved" and there are some "twists and turns in the road" that you will not see coming and you will NOT want to miss!

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