'The Celebrity Apprentice' recap: Donald Trump smells

celebrity-apprentice-donald-trump.jpgPreviously on "The Celebrity Apprentice": Lisa's outbursts turned toward the bipolar and nobody really wanted to talk about it. Aubrey went along to get along but made sure to throw as many secret barbs toward Arsenio in interviews as possible. Paul kind of didn't do anything while Teresa's massive intellectual deficits lost their team the puppet challenge, and Paul was fired. Also, Teresa's surname continues to acquire extra syllables like Trump acquires ex-wives.

Post-Pinkslip Aftermath:
When Aubrey and Teresa return sans Paul, Arsenio is bumming. For one, he liked Paul. For another, now he's stuck with Aubrey and Teresa. Aubrey, meanwhile, makes it clear to the audience at home that she doesn't have anyone's back. Good to know! It seems that after the fight with Arsenio a few weeks ago, Aubrey decided that she would play nice during the tasks but remove any shred of decency when talking behind everyone else's backs. It's...certainly something to watch.

The Task:
The teams are asked to assemble at Trump's abhorrent gold-bricked apartment, which Aubrey says "feels like wealth," like Charlie and Chocolate Factory but with gold. I think she's trying to be ass-kissy when she says this, if you can imagine that.

"EVERYBODY KNOWS I LOVE MACY'S DEPARTMENT STORES!" Trump booms as an introduction. Okay. He's launching a new fragrance called "Success by Trump" (if I'm going to pause to roll my eyes about something being self-aggrandizing and pompous, I'll never finish this thing, so just assume that I think so). The teams need to create an in-store display and slogan, and they'll be judged by the creativity of said slogan, the brand messaging, and the in-store display. Judges: Trump, Eric, and the triumphantly returning old crank George Ross. Project Managers: Aubrey and Clay, that latter taking the mantle after Penn basically abdicates. Clay won his previous PM duel with Aubrey, it's noted. Trump says the winning team gets $20,000, but if Trump reeeeeeally likes their work, he'll award $100,000.

Team Unanimous:
Aubrey thinks this is a must-win situation for her, so you can imagine what a nightmare she's going to be. They banter about "what success means," and Aubrey gets all sanctimonious about how success isn't about money like Arsenio thinks. She says Arsenio pitched ideas about money, women, and power, but "Trump has never been one to be simple" about that version of success. HAHAHAHA. No, sorry, did you come to that conclusion before or after you exited his GOLD-PLATED APARTMENT? Arsenio clocks Aubrey trying to make herself look awesome in front of the Macy's execs, but he doesn't seem to have the energy for a fight so whatever.

When it comes time to pick out a slogan, Aubrey shoots down all sorts of suggestions from Arsenio and Teresa before throwing out "Trust Your Instincts." Following that, Arsenio produces a YouTube video of some kind -- a Trump fan video?? -- with Trump quoted delivering that same cliché. Arsenio is already getting pre-annoyed that Aubrey is taking credit for a quote that is, in fact, Trump's. Aubrey's other idea is to photograph Eric Trump as a young version of his father (Eric, on the phone: "Um, okay?") to use as part of the display. The rest of the display will be silhouettes of the Manhattan skyline (which Aubrey photographs while perched atop Arsenio's shoulders, which only makes me ponder about what an ultimately opportunistic relationship both halves of Master/Blaster were engaged in).

For the display, they need a glossy black backdrop to match the cologne box, so Aubrey sends both Teresa AND Arsenio out to a "vinyl shop" (hmmm...), leaving herself to do everything with regard to the display. And indeed, Aubrey is basically rehearsing her boardroom arguments against Arsenio and Teresa while she works. When Eric arrives, Aubrey's alone in the workroom, and she flirts with him shamelessly and also throws her team under the bus with enthusiasm and without prompting. "I'm a one-man team," she says, "yes I said it." She remains, as I have been saying all along, the perfect garbage person to win this garbage show. For her part, Teresa thinks if they lose, it's ALL on Aubrey. Perhaps in an effort to show how hardworking she is, Teresa bravely decides to help paint the backdrop, despite the fact that she's wearing a satin blouse.

The next morning, Aubrey sees the display and is pleased. She pats herself on the back some more, saying she's "really been a mini Trump" on this challenge. For his part, Arsenio interviews that "she's bossy" (but is she the first girl to scream on a track?), but he would rather let Aubrey have her moment and keep team cohesion than put her in her place again. Teresa says she can "feel the win" coming, but right then, a display sign of "Success" falls down. Like, I GET IT, CHEKHOV.

George visits to check on the team's progress, and it's kind of hilarious to see how Aubrey totally doesn't know how to schmooze him. Eric and Don Jr. she can flirt with, and she's even figured out how to get on Ivanka's good side, but George is just a brick wall. He bluntly says that the Eric silhouette doesn't look like Donald, that one of the supposed buildings looks like the grill of a Rolls Royce (Aubrey: "Well, Trump drives a Rolls Royce, so..."). He's a total buzzkill, and I love it.

When it's time to present their display to the Macy's execs, Aubrey has a dubious moment where she asks Arsenio, "Tell them what success means to you, because you are a man, last time I checked." Arsenio privately worries that Aubrey has been peeking on him under the sheets after hours, but the execs don't seem too thrown.

Team Forte:
Their strategy is the tried and true tactic of marketing to men via beautiful women. Penn, despite not being PM, is kind of steamrolling the brainstorming process. Penn likes "You Earned It" as a slogan, and the idea is to have Dayana (in her role as The Beautiful Woman) kind of snuggled up against the torso of a man in a suit and tie. Of course, Dayana's idea is to have everybody in the ad nearly naked, but Clay nixes that. Clay is also slightly dubious of "You Earned It" as a slogan, but the whole group really does like it.

During the display design process, Lisa and Penn seem to take charge, and Clay comes across as a bit indecisive. Lisa and Dayana are getting along for this task, though Dayana privately worries, "I hope she's not secretly trying to bust my peanuts." Exactly. Dayana also has an idea to create a handout to give to the execs during the presentation, but Clay shoots it down, as they only have a few more hours and still need to finish creating the display. Lisa interviews that she's worried about Aubrey as competition, because remember how she's weirdly in love with Aubrey? Lisa says she doesn't want to lose, but she doesn't want Aubrey to lose either. And since it turns out both teams are assembling their displays in the same workshop, Lisa ends up sneaking over and spying on Unanimous. She reports back to her team that they both had similar NYC skyline motifs (tough to imagine how you wouldn't, with the Trump brand attached and all). Nothing else really comes of this, despite how prominent this moment was in the previews.

On the day of the presentation, Forte is in LOVE with their display, even though Dayana is dissatisfied with the pic (she does seem washed out) and picks at parts of the physical display that seem ragged. But Lisa and Clay, in particular, are FEELING it. When it comes time to present to the Macy's execs, Clay is less than dynamic, and it's suuuuper short. Forte didn't realize they were supposed to deliver a whole spiel, and watching Clay scramble to find additional things to say is awkward as ****.

The Boardroom:
Clay enthuses about his whole team, and Lisa says Clay is one of the top 2 project managers she's ever worked for, putting him in rarefied company with Her Aubreyness. Lisa also tells Trump that that Dayana "killed it" this week, which obviously impresses Trump, considering. Trump informs the teams that the Macy's execs preferred certain things about the Forte display and certain other things about Unanimous. No one team's display was exactly right.

When asked to assess his team, Arsenio brings up how Teresa ran around in her heels like a champ. This gives Trump an excuse to enthuse about Teresa's tenacity and her hustle. He thinks she's been "underrated" this season, which is so perfectly Trump in that it is based on absolutely nothing that he has witnessed. He does mention that he heard all about Teresa's Real Housewives exploits from Melania (his wife, not Teresa's daughter; Trump won't end up marrying Teresa's daughter for at least another 10-15 years).

Trump has the teams examine each other's work. Forte is impressed (and perhaps a bit shamed?) by Unanimous's "takeaway" (their handout/smell strip combination). Arsenio compliments the print ad, with Dayana and the male model, which gives Aubrey the opportunity to pipe up about THEIR model, Eric Trump. She even kisses Donald's ass by joking that she adjusted Eric's hairline in the silhouette because she's prefers the elder Trump's follicular abomination. Eric the presses Aubrey about the "one-man team" comments, and while she says "my team did not not help," she insists she was responsible for the whole product. Arsenio is reluctant to complain (he really doesn't want to repeat that ugly boardroom scene), but he says he doesn't like being "minimized." He talks about how he looked up the Trump quote for the slogan, but Aubrey quickly says she came up with "trust your instincts" first. It's an odd argument in that you'd think the order of how the slogan was arrived upon would be easy to remember, but neither one of them seems to lay it out that way. Arsenio doesn't entirely do himself a ton of favors when he talks about finding other Trump quotes that he also liked, including one about trusting one's gut (which is actually terrible and doesn't speak well of Arsenio if he liked that for a slogan; "gut" should not be anywhere near a fragrance ad). In assessing the other team's ad, Aubrey sniffs at their traditional approach. Lots of colognes from celebrities and rock stars feature "a hot girl oogling over a guy in a suit," she says. One day I'll get sick of dumb jerks mispronouncing words while they're trying to be awful about something. Not today. Aubrey says her idea was, like Trump, more "forward-thinking."

Eric and George sums up what the execs liked and didn't like about each team's display. For Forte, they loved the image (though they thought it was too big, which I think is a pretty BS concern). They didn't love the slogan (calling it "pompous") and the fact that said slogan wasn't very prominent on the display ("This food is terrible! And such small portions!"). Trump says, since the execs liked the photo best, that Dayana was clearly the star. Which, seriously, makes Trump a ****ing idiot, though not in any way surprising. It's not like the celebrity version of this show pretends very much that it's looking to crown a superior businessperson, but still, crediting Dayana for basically being the model in a photo shoot is awfully rich. Meanwhile, Penn owns the slogan, pompous though it may be.

For Unanimous, Macy's loved Aubrey's presentation, the takeaway/scent strip, and the slogan. They didn't love the creativity of the display itself, nor the Eric Trump silhouette, which they found "unappealing" (LOL). The silhouette was obviously Aubrey's idea, and Teresa doesn't do a great job of explaining whether it was supposed to look like Trump or supposed to look like an Everyman. Trump actually slaps the table to shut her up and move on with things.

Since neither team did a perfect job, Trump DOESN'T award the full $100k. But before you start thinking that's weirdly principled decision, Trump decides he needs to look good on TV, so he says he'll give $40k to winning team, plus $10k each to every person's charity. Generosity confirmed! Time for a winner, and it's ... Unanimous! More fuel for Aubrey's ultimate win. "I finally beat you!" she crows to Clay. When they return to the penthouse, Teresa is all, "I love the Trumps!" and Arsenio wants to toast to Mr. Trump and his "generosity." This show is always pretty gross, but these moments are the grossest. And Aubrey still manages to complain about her team once again.

The You're-Fired-ing:
So it looks like Clay vs. Penn, and indeed Trump gives Clay the blueprints from the jump: the execs hated Penn's slogan. But Penn isn't without his own ammunition. Clay talks about how he tried to "lead by consensus," which is anathema to Trump. He even throws in an ADR "Give me a break!" after Clay describes seeking consensus on his decisions. Dayana talks about her idea to produce a takeaway handout, but Clay says it was so late in the game by then. He decides to let Lisa go free to the apartment and bring back Penn and Dayana, the latter mostly based on "history" than on anything done wrong in this task. She has been "aloof" in the past, according to Clay. Trump: "Dayana, does that come with great beauty?" I can't even, with this guy.

Upstairs, Lisa thinks Penn is going, and Aubrey lectures her to stop standing up for Dayana simply because she's not terrible. That's no way to get rid of her.

Back in the boardroom, George gets on Clay's case about not coming up with a takeaway, and Trump brings up how Dayana has been brought back to the final table a record six times. He again asks if everybody else is just jealous. He asks Clay who he'd fire, and after some squabbling about whether Trump should only base his decision on this task (Trump decidedly says he will), he says he'd fire Penn, for the slogan. Penn says don't punish the person with ideas; fire Clay for okaying the idea. Which, okay, but if Penn wants credit for the GOOD ideas he had, Clay should get credit for approving those too, then, right? Clay then brings up the "bigger balls" of him taking PM at Penn's request. Trump is, I think, waiting for Penn to mix it up, but he merely continues to smile smugly. Dayana would fire Clay, but Clay once again makes the big-picture argument that the team would be best off if they got rid of Dayana. Trump doesn't want to hear it; he says he'd love to fire 6-Time Dayana, but he can't. Instead, he fires Penn, for the slogan. On his way out, Penn is all smugness and barely suppressed rage as he gives insincere hugs to Dayana and Clay.