Week 1 of Celebrity Apprentice

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      Courtesy of NBC.com:
  Read Clay Aiken’s blog on NBC.com and just had  to repost this.

Week 1

                               
  • Posted By Clay
  • 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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