Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Raj's "Real" Obituary - The Apprentice

Raj's "Real" Obituary
Reality television mourns the loss of the colorful, innovative, and dynamic Raj Bhakta. The Trump Organization took him from our midst at 9:55 PM EST on Thursday due to his lack of self-control, womanizing, excessive collection of bow ties, and a grand vision not embraced by average souls. Raj suffered from Sammyism, an aggressive disease that affects all parts of the body, and causes one to dream big, act in an eccentric fashion, and eventually alienate everyone within close proximity. Sammyism is named for Sam Solovey, a contestant from season one of The Apprentice who passed away early last season from strange and erratic behavior, giving rise to the disease now attributed to all reality TV contestants who suffer from work-related breakdowns, grandiose ideas, and obsessions with wealthy men named Trump.

Raj was a great man who admired Winston Churchill, had a keen understanding of American and European History, and appreciated a fine woman just as much as a perfectly aged bottle of wine. Raj is survived by nine rather ordinary men and women who will never attain the extraordinary heights of his mind or spirit. Raj was ill suited for the colorless landscape of corporate America and can now rest peacefully and no longer battle the underachieving and uncreative peers who will never know how to properly wear a bow tie, use a walking stick or recite passages from Joseph Stalin's memoirs. Raj, we will miss you.

Mini Me
As this week's episode gets started, the teams gather on the roof of Trump Park Avenue. Hard hats await all candidates in a subtle reference to last season's drama surrounding Omarosa and the falling cement. Omarosa's spirit lingers and will surely haunt all of us for years to come. More interesting is that Raj is the only who decides not to wear his hat. He surely thinks it is improper for a man of his stature to wear gear suited for a laborer. Or better yet, Raj simply does not wish to mess up his hair.

As Trump explains the task, he reintroduces previously fired contestants Rob, Bradford, Stacie "The Magic Eight Ball" J. and Jennifer "blah blah blah" C. All four grin ear to ear as they clearly enjoy the extension of their fifteen minutes of fame. They will participate in the assignment with Bradford and Stacie J. working for Apex while Jennifer C. and Rob go over to Mosaic. The teams will renovate houses on Long Island, and the group who increases their property value the most will win the task.

Last week I predicted that George leaves for a business trip and never returns. Well, so far I'm proven correct because in this episode Matthew Calamari sits in for George. I performed some research and learned that Mr. Calamari began working for Donald Trump twenty years ago as his personal bodyguard and eventually worked his way up to a top position. Knowing this, I now like to think that Trump decided not to hire me because I'm too small to protect him.

Eight Ball in the Corner Pocket
While in the suite, Stacie J. unleashes her fury on Ivana. And Jennifer C. is right there cheering her on. Stacie J. demands to know why Ivana called her crazy. They argue and Ivana looks a little shaken, clearly afraid that Stacie J. will pull a Magic Eight Ball out of a pocket and launch it at her. I know from experience that once fired from The Apprentice, animosity builds towards the former contestants. We spend sleepless nights reenacting scenes and considering how we could have acted differently in order to prevent our boardroom demise. We have nightmares about The Donald firing us and daydreams about mowing the greens at Trump National golf course.

The Hugh Hefner Suite
Raj is the project manager for Apex and Sandy leads Mosaic. In her interviews, Sandy exudes confidence and feels certain that her team will win this task. I'm not sure why Sandy is so positive, considering that she runs a bridal salon in real life and probably knows nothing about renovating homes. On the other hand, Raj is in the real estate business and should hold the advantage. But Raj makes disastrous decisions from the start. For a visionary, he proves incredibly short-sighted on this task. Kevin and he select a contractor who looks like the doctors just released him from the insane asylum. This joker certainly did not convince me that he was competent. And worse, Raj decides to turn the four bedroom house into three bedrooms. The objective is to increase the value of the property, and Apex cannot accomplish this goal by reducing the number of bedrooms. But I again can read into Raj's clever mind. He thinks in terms of his own tastes and desires a large master bedroom. He surely envisions for himself a lair with mirrored walls and sheep skin carpets. He would call it The Raj Mahal.

Ty and Carson > Dead Beat Contractor
Neither team had any experience renovating a home. They needed outside help but instead relied on their own ideas. If the project managers had thought outside the box, these homes could have looked like a million dollars. If I had been project manager, my team would have turned to our favorite pastime for guidance: Reality Television. Instead of hiring contractors, who often represent the lowest level in the home renovation food chain, I would have turned to Ty and Carson, two of television's most innovative home creators. Ty is the host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Carson is one of the hosts on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. No, I'm not suggesting that I would have employed them for the task as the producers would never allow such cleverness. Instead, I would have instructed my team to spend ten hours taking copious notes while watching every episode of both shows. Each team member would focus on an area of expertise. After completing the reality TV makeover marathon, the entire team would have a keener understanding of how to maximize a home's potential and eliminate the need for an under performing contractor.

Potty Training
The appraisers and real estate agents review the renovated homes. Sandy and Mosaic perform a commendable job having transformed their home into a marketable piece of property. On the walk through Raj's house, the appraisers and agents discover that the upstairs bathroom has not been completed and the stairway carpet appears terribly soiled. Raj knows his team will lose the task when the evaluators walk into the unfinished bathroom. The toilet sits in the middle of the hallway, the sink is not installed, and significant painting remains. Apex has sealed their fate.

Richie Rich
Matthew Calamari and Carolyn read the results which are a surprise to no one. Raj's Apex increased their home's value by 7% and Sandy's Mosaic added more than 10% to their property's value. As a reward, Donald sends the winning team to his socialite friend, Denise Rich's house in The Hamptons, so they can see a beautifully renovated home. Denise Rich welcomes the candidates to her estate in Donald Trump fashion... minus the onyx floors, celestial ceilings, and gold encrusted walls.

Meanwhile, back in the suite Raj takes advice from Jennifer M. on who he should bring into the boardroom. Jennifer M. is crafy as she points the finger at Ivana and cultivates a positive relationship with Raj in order to protect herself. Jennifer M. is brutal with her comments and in a side interview says that she will stop at nothing in the boardroom. She has shown this wicked side in previous weeks.

And the Winner Is...
Apex heads to the boardroom and when Trump enters, he's dressed in black tie. He explains that he's off to a formal affair after the boardroom where he will give out an award. Maybe Mr. Trump should dress that way to every boardroom because some would argue that he's giving out an award week after week in there as well. Perhaps the seventeen losing candidates receive the prizes as working for this tycoon would surely serve as an uphill battle each and every day. Moreover, Trump is quite sharp in his tux. He looks like a penguin who wears a bird's nest to protect his head from the cold winter months.

Trump questions the losing team and many of them stand behind Raj. Kevin takes some heat for his part in selecting the contractor. Raj allows Jennifer M. and Chris to head back to the suite and asks Ivana and Kevin to join him back in the boardroom. Prior to his departure Chris speaks up and says their team is terrible and will lose next week without any personnel changes. Trump is annoyed by Chris's comments and encourages Raj to bring the outspoken one into the boardroom as well, but Raj declines. Ultimately, the eccentric Raj gets the boot for reducing the number of bedrooms from four to three and not bringing Chris in as a result of his disloyal comments.

Hey darling, have we met before?
Raj waits for the elevator in the reception area and instead of sulking over his elimination, he heads over to the desk and asks Robyn for her telephone number. I commend him for attemtping to turn a negative outcome into a positive one. Every other fired contestant simply accepts their fate and heads down to the street. But not Raj. Robyn does not respond to Raj's request, but he suggests in his taxicab confession that he will eventually get her digits and take the lovely lady out for a date.

Last season I also broke with the formulaic departures of the other contestants. None of this aired on the program, but I would not go quietly into the night. First I tried to storm back into the boardroom and plead my case to Trump, and then I refused to jump in the taxi waiting for me downstairs. I simply could not part with Trump Tower. Once the producers called security, I realized my time was up.

Sam's Unpredictable Predictions
John Kerry fills in for George, who is on another business trip. Kerry, still reeling from the close election is anxious to unseat anyone with the name George, and he jumps at the opportunity to sit in for Trump's sidekick.

Last season's Omarosa fills in for Carolyn, who finally gets to take a much needed business trip. During the boardroom, Omarosa complains that her chair is smaller than the one normally occupied by Carolyn. Omarosa claims racism and storms out of the boardroom never to return.

Continuing his break with tradition, Trump wears blue jeans during next week's episode. Never able to resist a product placement, Trump accepts a half million dollar payment from Levi's to toss his trademark suit in favor of denim. The Apprentice ratings plummet as viewers are appalled at the site of The Donald in anything but a coat and tie.

During the boardroom, a mouse darts across the boardroom table. Trump is shaken by the sight and is clearly embarrassed that there are mice in his signature building. All of the remaining contestants are spared elimination next week as Trump fires the rodent instead.

George returns wearing a bow tie and using a walking stick.

When Trump says to Robyn, "Send them in," She responds, "No" instead of "Mr. Trump is ready to see you now." The Donald has no idea what to do. To make matters worse, another mouse darts across the boardroom table.


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