Celebrity apprentice gets real

Sunday night was a special two for one on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice as the teams were mixed, and the men were finally involved in high drama thanks to Arsenio and Aubrey O’Day.

The first hour saw the women fail yet another challenge, as their fund raising efforts were $35,014 less than the men. Bonus money brought them within $14, but it wasn’t quite enough.

On the men’s side their few errors fell on outside party as the Blue Man Group’s balloon method of cash distribution nearly sparked a riot, and Arsenio was unable to get Jay Leno’s blank check before time ran out.

Teresa brought Debbie and Dayana to the boardroom, though it nearly cost her dearly. Dayana is simply not going to be fired unless she actively screws up. She won’t win, but she’s one of the few successful Forte project managers so far. It doesn’t hurt that she refrains from infighting.

After that it was time for the shake up. Aubrey and Teresa joined Unanimous. Penn, Lou and Dee joined Forte.

Things developed as expected in Unanimous. Arsenio made the mistake of humoring Aubrey which eventually made him snap in the boardroom. On Forte’s side, things went relatively smoothly. Their only two errors were a slip of the tongue fro Penn, and boring box design.

Unfortunately, that was enough, and Dee was sent home for his box design. However, Aubrey got most of the attention when she headed to the elevator instead of joining her team.

FORTE

With Dee gone, Forte has four members. Dayana, Lisa, Penn and Lou.

Lisa Lampanelli has been embroiled with most of the drama this season. She kept most of that baggage despite the change in teams. Her crusade against Dayana isn’t winning her any popularity points. Lisa’s insecurities will likely lead to her downfall.

Dayana remains poised, making great use of her pageant background. Had she succumbed to the petty infighting prevalent in Forte, she would have been fired by now. Her looks, poise and successful track record will keep her around.

However, if Forte loses again, it’s hard not to see Lou or Dayana going home.

I think Penn is the strongest player on the team. He commands respect and refrains from arguing. His only shortcoming (for the game anyway) is his desire not to “spin” things his way. I could see him heading home in a few scenarios.

UNANIMOUS

Aubrey has been the vibrantly haired “villain” for the entire show, so it’s easy to cheer when Arsenio called her BS in the boardroom. Yet I can’t help but feel that’s not entirely fair.

It’s easy to forget that she’s spent much of the last decade on reality TV. Reality TV is NOT Reality. Combine that with her youth, and it’s not hard to imagine how someone could misinterpret the world as she has clearly done. An ego can easily be blown out of proportion. Even now I doubt she understands her personal shortcomings.

Whenever I see someone eager for approval and attention, it usually means they lack direction.

Aubrey has also played the game diabolically, though I’m not certain it’s been the result of a calculated plan, rather instinct.

In the first few weeks, Aubrey sized up the competition and quickly formed a clique with her two strongest competitors. That made it easy to weed out the weak. It also gave her plenty of ammo.

Debbie and Lisa were relatively safe in their group with Aubrey, but Aubrey also did a better job of keeping positive relations with the rest of her team. While Debbie and Lisa defensively struck at the outsiders, Aubrey did a fine job if riding the line. When the numbers dwindled, it wasn’t hard for Teresa to pick Debbie over Aubrey to head to the board room.

When switched to Unanimous, Aubrey couldn’t quite re-establish power. Too much of her game was transparent to the men, and Arsenio, Clay and Paul kept their defenses up. Watching Arsenio snap so easily was amazing.

In a few short days, Aubrey took the nicest guy in the game and had him railing at her in the boardroom. Again, I don’t know how much of it was calculated and how much was instinctual, but it’s not difficult to see how it will play out.

If Aubrey returns she can play the martyr card. She cries. Arsenio apologizes. Even if he doesn’t really mean it, she’s already eaten away at his power.

No matter what happens. If Aubrey returns, the next PM has to try and get her eliminated. That means building on Arsenio’s tirade and using it to marginalize her contributions in the next round.

If the next PM loses by a narrow margin, they should consider a different tactic. Bring back a strong player with Aubrey. Assuming the next PM isn’t Teresa, whoever brings Aubrey back will have a successful win from earlier and plenty of ammo to use against Aubrey.

I think Paul is the strongest player on Unanimous. He had a very successful first round, and has built a reputation as a concise, idea man.

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