The Apprentice: LA - Season in Review

After five seasons in Trump's Manhattan lair, The Apprentice moved west to Los Angeles where the contestants could get their fill of Hollywood and movie stars and smog and silicon chests and, as it turns out, camping.  The new “twist” placed on the Apprentices by Trump and god-like executive producer Mark Burnett separated the winning and losing teams after each task: the winners received a life of luxury in a Hollywood Hills mansion, while the losers camped in tents outside the mansion.  A large hedge separated the two teams, but the losers were able to watch the winners lounge by the pool.

This twist ended up being a little bit of a bust, in that the tent-dwellers never seemed too adversely affected by their living situation.  Team Arrow (who spent most of their time in the tents), actually seemed to have a great time back there, barbecuing and drinking.  I always like the inter-team conflicts that occur when the teams have to share a living space.  We lost that this season.  In the end, though, The Apprentice: LA was a good change of pace from the busy streets of New York, and the season was an enjoyable one.

Martin Han Clarke was the first to be fired, and will go down in Apprentice lore for asking the Donald if he could cut the filmed introductions short so he could go inside the mansion to pee.

Carey Sherrell was the next to be kicked to the curb, mostly for designing a pink speedo for dudes, and then modeling it during a runway show. Trump was, predictably, put off this.

Michelle Sorro was an interesting case, as she was not fired, but asked to resign.  Trump did his best to make her both look bad and feel bad about her decision, but Michelle walked away with dignity.  She recognized her flaws, and didn't see any reason to go on being miserable in a place she knew she wouldn't succeed.  I think the Donald was a little pissed off about how well Michelle handled herself.

Marisa DeMato, a pretty face whose personality/abilities/intelligence we couldn't really get a handle on, was the next to be fired.  Heidi orchestrated Marisa's dismissal, and she became the team's scapegoat.  Not fair, but that's how it goes early in the game.

Aaron Altscher came and went, enduring an angry end-of-episode tirade from Surya, who accused Aaron of blatant lying.  Aaron will probably be best known for staying almost completely silent while watching the opposing team's boardroom the week before he himself was let go.  This lack of assertiveness did not sit well with Mr. Trump.

Aimee Trottier was was still angry about her firing months later when we interviewed her.  Most of her venom was directed towards Angela, who she felt got preferential treatment due to her Gold Medal-winning past.  It seemed, to me at least, to be sour grapes.

Derek Arteta
received perhaps the most bizarre dismissal, stemming from an off-hand comment he made about himself, saying that he was “white-trash”.   For some reason, Trump took complete offense to that, which was weird considering Derek was talking about himself.  Also, it turns out that Derek is a gay man, which, through editing, was something that never came up during any episode.  Which, again, I thought was a little bizarre. 

Jenn Hoffman was an all-around solid performer, but just had a bad task.  Jenn, once she was fired, joined us here at BuddyTV for some live TVj sessions during some of the final Apprentice episodes.  She did a great job, and we'd all just like to thank her for participating. 

Surya Yalamanchili left on bad terms with finalist Frank Lombardi, and he still contends that Frank lied in the boardroom to himself.  This may be true, but Surya was full of untapped potential.  He was one of the smartest people on the show, yet got bogged down all too often in unnecessary details. 

Muna Heaven was a spirited young lady, but was ultimately let down by her constant undermining of team members.  She was a stubborn player, and often rubbed her teammates the wrong way.,  On the bright side, she had a cool Jamaican accent. 

There were accusations (from me) over how much preferential treatment Angela Ruggiero was receiving from Trump based on her Olympic exploits (Angela plays for the US Women's Hockey Team).  Considering she was eventually fired, there really is no basis fro such claims.  Angela kind of disappeared into the background on most occasions, but seemed relatively solid when called to action.

Oh, Tim and Nicole.  I've written extensively about their relationship, but what it comes down to is this: NBC squeezed a hell of a lot of screen time out of their romance.  Tim Urban fell victim to his infatuation on a number of occasions, and he eventually paid for it.  Tim probably could've made it much further than he eventually did if it weren't for Nicole, and it was probably the biggest reason he was fired when he was.

Heidi Androl dominated the contest for much of the season, presiding over a number of task victories as her team's Project Manager.  In my eyes, she was the favorite to win it all for most of the season, but lost her grip near the end.  In a moment of weakness in the boardroom, when she admitted that her performance on a specific task would warrant her firing, Trump didn't hesitate and pounced on her moment of weakness.

Whatever Kristine Lefebvre did during this season is now a moot point.  Now, she'll forever be known as “that girl from The Apprentice who was in Playboy”.  You can't blame her for taking advantage of her time in the limelight.

Then, there were four.  In the final task, Frank Lombardi and Nicole D'Ambrosio were simply over matched in every way by Stefani Schaeffer and James Sun.  Frank is blue-collar kind of guy.  A loose cannon with energy and a penchant for getting things done, but he didn't really have the polish to get hired by Trump.

Nicole didn't get bogged down by her relationship with Tim as much as Tim did, and she was solid in all the tasks, but her performance on the final one sealed her fate.  Frank and Nicole's commercial was fairly awful and the two were fired last night on the live finale.  It was not a surprise.

I thought James was going to win.  I think Trump saw it as a toss-up, and that either James or Stefani would've been an asset to his company.  In the end, he chose Stefani.  She's a little more level-headed.  James tended to get overexcited at times and maybe lose his cool.  Stefani was always in control, and you could see that in the live finale. 

Stefani Schaeffer was declared the winner of The Apprentice: LA.  Donald Trump made a good choice.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer

(Image Courtesy of NBC)