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The Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Tom Scharpling Marvels at the Meat Loaf Meltdown

Before I get to the recapping, can I deal with the elephant in the room? You know which elephant I’m talking about — the bloated windbag of an elephant who keeps speculating that Obama wasn’t born in this country while pretending to run for president.

Seriously, just imagine Donald Trump participating in a presidential campaign. Picture the look of absolute disgust on his face as he’s forced to eat some yokel’s award-winning sweet-potato pie at an Iowa diner. Within two minutes he’ll be screaming at the rubes to stop breathing his air as he scrambles back to his private jet. It’s not going to happen.

Okay, back to the reason we’re all here. The ladies have suffered their third-consecutive loss and the dudes are gloating in a way that is all foreshadowing — Lil Jon yells “We keep winning!” like he’s begging for a fake thunderbolt to come from above to faux smite his nonexistent team for their pseudo-arrogance.

The women are in bad shape. NeNe Leakes is still rattled over Dionne Warwick’s brutal farewell, muttering, “Dionne is rude” over and over.

As everybody talks down NeNe, La Toya tells Lil Jon she believes that her teammates are setting her up to fail. She tacks on a heartfelt “I’ve always known that you can’t trust anybody” — a motivational aphorism that just sends my heart soaring! — before Trump calls everybody back to the boardroom to learn their next challenge.

Trump prefaces things by saying he’s a fan of art — “I enjoy looking at the art. I enjoy touching the art. I have fun with it” — before challenging the teams to create and sell some art. For a moment it seems like this might be an episode that allowed the contestants to fly free without the confines of whatever low-rent corporation threw some money at NBC this week.

But that lasted three seconds before Trump mentioned some baseball-cap company. So in addition to creating paintings, each contestant has to paint a baseball cap. Wow, they’re running out of ideas on this thing like nobody’s business. But you should’ve seen the look on Jose Canseco’s face when Trump said the word "baseball." It was like when I used to say the word "food" to my dog.

It’s at this point that I realize we didn’t get to see Lil Jon present his charity with the prize money he earned from being project manager last week. What gives? My guess is that since his charity is the United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur, Georgia, NBC and Trump were too cheap to buy someone from the organization a coach ticket to New York.

So let me tell you what the NBC website doesn’t feel the need to promote: The United Methodist Children’s Home housed two children who were adopted by Lil Jon’s family. He got a brother and sister from this place! Good on Lil Jon for donating to an organization that is considerably less flashy but wildly significant to him.

And in NBC’s defense, they only have so much room on their website and they need to make room for Don Trump Jr.’s Boardroom Blog. Where else could you get valuable insight into the show like “I think Dionne must have known once she challenged my father it was over”? Hmmm … the only place I can think of is ON THE ACTUAL SHOW WHEN TRUMP SAID PRETTY MUCH THE SAME THING.

Marlee Matlin and John Rich are appointed respective project managers, and it doesn’t take Rich five seconds before he starts in with his country-boy hokum once again. This time he’s blathering on about how generous country-music fans are. Yes, I know they can be giving when it’s time to donate to organizations that put up WHERE’S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE billboards, but we will see if they can pony up for less worthy endeavors.

And for the record, I assumed that John Rich’s charity was going to involve removing too-small cowboy hats stuck on the heads of urban cowboys, but it turns out that he’s competing for the very worthy St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Once they break off into their teams, it’s all business. Rich tells his teammates that he expects them to raise as much money as possible and those who do not earn will feel his wrath in the boardroom. He’s so intense you’d think he was auditioning for the Alec Baldwin role in a down-home version of Glengarry Glen Ross (“As y’all know, first prize is a Massey Ferguson tractor. Anybody wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of shuckin’ knives. Third prize is you get skedaddled”).

Jose Canseco gets a call that his dad’s health took a turn for the worse and he has decided to leave the show to go attend to family matters. So Trump handles this in the classiest way possible — he drags Canseco into the boardroom and talks to him across the table as if this whole show isn’t fake. It was really skin crawling. Before Canseco leaves, Trump throws $25 grand to Canseco’s charity, which was B.A.T., an organization that helps out former baseball players and baseball personnel who have fallen on hard times. And Canseco’s dad passed away shortly after filming this, so he made the right decision. Rest in peace.

But that doesn’t stop the rats from being ratty. Richard Hatch speculates that maybe Jose faked the severity of his father’s illness so he could avoid the episode in which everybody was expected to raise money. You know, since Canseco is a pariah and would have a hard time raising money.

First thing — fuck off, Richard Hatch. Not everybody would stoop to those depths.
You know that Richard Hatch is one of those guys who fails that "serial killer funeral test" that gets e-mailed around every year or so. (Incidentally, the premise for that test could be Katherine Heigl’s next movie: “She wanted to meet the man of her dreams again, so she did the only thing she could: She murdered her father!”) And second, I am certain that when it came time to bring in the bucks, Canseco would’ve gotten BALCO to write him a huge check.

Even though I will get flack for it, I will not discuss Mark McGrath saying, “Let’s get out of the van! Gary farted!” I just won’t. Sorry, sickos. Write about it on your own weird amateur recaps.

As the gentlemen shop for their art supplies, we get our first taste of the Meat Loaf meltdown the show has been hyping for the last week. Gary Busey asks Loaf if he’s buying canvases for everybody. Meat Loaf somehow interprets that as Busey saying "You're buying my stuff!" and rolls his shopping cart off in a rage. I don’t like where this is going at all.

La Toya Jackson has a rare shirt of her brother Michael — wait, she’s related to Michael Jackson?! How did I miss that?! — that she will donate to the auction. And while this shirt appears to be the kind of garment that one might obtain by finding themselves on the receiving end of a shirt cannon launched by a sports mascot, I am not one to question her generosity or the kindness of her intent. She seemed really touched to give it to the charity, so I say good for you, La Toya.

When the dudes get back to their workspace, Meat Loaf instantly goes off. He accuses Gary of stealing his supplies and screams at him like a lunatic. I will say this: Meat Loaf might’ve come up with the line of the century when he screeches “I bought those motherfucking sponges!” in Gary’s face. Can anybody please turn this into a ringtone?!

Meat Loaf then tells Gary that he does not want to fuck with him because if you look into his eyes you’ll see that he’s the last person in the fucking world you’d ever want to fuck with. Which is kind of funny, because when you see the reaction that the motherfucking sponges is getting, Meat Loaf might be the first guy you’d want to fuck with! Who wouldn’t want to hear him scream, “You’ll be in the hospital in about four minutes!” after calling him to ask if his refrigerator is running?

And surprise of surprises, they find Meat Loaf’s supplies were under a chair the whole time. But that doesn’t stop Meat Loaf from still yelling and raging away like a 4-year-old. What a dick.

The ladies are having some struggles. NeNe and Star are going at it a little bit, with Star mad that the computer is offline, and NeNe — who cares?! I want to talk about Meat Loaf some more! Watching him "paint" is a sight to behold. Let me set the scene: Meat Loaf in his bare feet, his T-shirt on inside-out with the tag sticking waaaay up, rolling a basketball covered in paint across a canvas while muttering "come on … come on … " If this isn’t outsider art, I don’t know what is. Can we get Phil Morrison to make Junebug 2: Even Buggier with Meat Loaf as the lead? Fingers crossed!

But there are other guys on the team, like Lil Jon, who seem excited about painting. A tip of the hat to the producers for cueing some "urban" music as soon as Lil Jon talks about his painting. Who did the music for this episode, Jimmy the Greek? Gary Busey paints some kind of animal and he seems to be having fun, which is awesome for him. And poor Richard Hatch is feeling the heat because he doesn’t have the Rolodex that the others have. Come on, you can’t get Rudy Boesch to toss in a few bucks?

And for the record, Richard Hatch is currently in jail for failing to file his income tax! For the second time! Isn’t that enough to sink Trump’s political aspirations? I’ve seen negative political ads based on less: “Donald Trump willingly hired a tax cheat for his own commercial gain. If this is how he runs his reality show, how is he going to run the country?”

The dudes set up at the gallery with so much time to spare that Mark McGrath and Lil Jon decide to see how the ladies are making out. They arrive to find their gallery completely empty — Team ASAP is stuck in traffic and Marlee is starting to royally freak out, wondering if they’ll have enough time to properly set things up.

So Mark and Lil Jon do a completely un-hilarious version of MTV Cribs at the gallery, with Lil Jon giving a non-tour of the barren room. This is why the world needs writers to provide words to come out of the mouths of performers, everyone.

Back at the Team Backbone gallery, Meat Loaf apologizes to Gary for yelling at him. He actually apologizes in the worst possible way, making himself the victim in the scenario, crying about how sorry he is, etc., blah blah blah. But when Gary breaks out an acronym for the word FORGIVE, Meat Loaf looks like he can barely contain his desire to yell at him again! What a despicable hothead — I guess when Phil Rizzuto said “we got a real pressure cooker going here” in “Paradise by the Dashboard Light," he was talking about the empty overheating cauldron socked squarely between Meat Loaf’s ears.

The ladies finally arrive at the gallery but their art isn’t there yet! There’s a real sense of panic in the air and you can feel Star Jones getting ready to drop this all on Marlee’s head. Let’s hope that the Year 2000 — my nickname for Marlee Matlin! — can pull it together.

Meanwhile, things are just peachy for the guys. They’ve opened their gallery to the public and business is booming. The Maloof Brothers bought some Lil Jon–decorated tequila bottles for $5 grand each, and Trace Adkins sent over an additional five thousand bucks. With this level of clientele, I was half-expecting a donation from the likes of Robert Shapiro or the Human Carpet, but these fantasies paled in comparison to the reality of John Rich’s country buddies rolling into the Big Apple.

That’s right, Two Foot Fred and Charlie and someone I think was called Big Six got off their private jet and headed straight to the gallery. I have no idea how these guys are making that kind of money — and it scares me to entertain the possibilities — but they’ve come to contribute to a good cause so I won’t give them too much grief.

Team ASAP is finally getting things rolling once their artwork arrives at the gallery. After a somewhat slow start, their coffers are filing up nicely thanks to the amazing hustle that the Year 2000 is throwing down. And even though I tease John Rich, he did a seriously amazing job getting people to donate. A respectful nod to the two of them.

But Richard Hatch is still moaning about how nobody wants to buy his painting because he’s a relative nobody in the scheme of things. If he had any sense of the NYC art world, he should’ve painted Meat Loaf green and locked him in a cage while playing some appropriate music — maybe “Warzone” by State of Alert on a constant loop? — if he wanted to make the Big Bucks.

I didn’t even mention that the dude who played Furio on The Sopranos came by to judge the quality of the hats each team painted. I know I doubted Trump’s artistic acumen earlier, but he clearly knows his stuff considering he booked Furio from The Sopranos as a hat-art judge. Was Robert Wuhl not available?

The numbers that both teams are raking in are climbing. Marlee has roped in three people pledging $99 grand each, and John Rich sold his guitar to his country friends for a whopping $470,000, although I would pay twice that amount if John Rich were selling me the last guitar he would ever own.

And then it’s all over and we’re back in the boardroom. When Trump — who at this point looks like a curious shaved orangutan who stuck his head inside a cotton-candy machine — asks Meat Loaf about what happened with the paint, he gives an unsurprisingly tainted and self-serving version of the events. And if that’s not enough, he looks like he wants to punch out Gary for relating a surprisingly evenhanded recollection of the incident. Classy!

Mark McGrath tells Trump that John Rich ran the team perfectly, exclaiming that he’s “one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met in my life." Those are strong words when you consider that McGrath probably knows all the guys from Lit!

After some uninteresting speculations that I won’t bore you with, the final numbers are revealed. The men raised $626,908, which is amazing. But the women raised a staggering $986,000! It’s so moving that Jack the Interpreter starts crying, causing Marlee to tell him to knock it off. I can only imagine the other circumstances under which Marlee tells Jack to knock it off, but that’s a thought for another time.

Trump makes a big show out of throwing in an additional $14 grand so Marlee’s total can be a cool million bucks, then asks the ladies whether or not they want to allow the guys to consider Jose Canseco’s departure as their firing for the week. They decline the offer, reminding everyone that it’s all business. I love it! Finally some boardroom heat!

The guys try to tip the focus toward getting rid of Gary Busey because of his lack of focus, but Trump asks Marlee — who is in the room with the rest of the ladies, an Apprentice first! (who cares!) — who she thinks should get fired. She says Richard Hatch has to leave since he made the least amount of money. Holy crap! Marlee Matlin is playing the game.

Trump agrees with her and fires Richard Hatch. Marlee ran things like a shark. This might’ve been the only opportunity to get rid of Richard Hatch because to paraphrase Dean Wormer, he’s a sneaky little shit and could’ve run the table if he had the chance. Crafty stuff from the Year 2000!

Next week: The dudes all pile on Gary, and La Toya versus NeNe!

Commenter’s Corner:

To ROBBIEMALKS in the Vulture comments section: Yes, I have heard of “time zones." Have you ever heard of “time”? Because that’s what it takes to put on your monster makeup and get in the car and park and buy a ticket to Rocky Horror. I call you on whether you can watch more than the first half hour of SNL. It’s called “entertainment” for a reason — you should enjoy it rather than run around trying to do everything. And your advice about me taking a chill pill has stumped both me and my physician. He has put me on something called "Thorazine" — is that what you were talking about?

To KERRIORIFKIN in the Vulture comments section: I am sorry that your enjoyment of Dionne Warwick’s music has been compromised by her appearance on Celebrity Apprentice. You might want to consider giving Big & Rich associate Cowboy Troy a listen; his album Black in the Saddle is currently in stores now. What’s that? It’s not in stores anymore? Well, I tried.

And the Twitter Retweet Challenge still stands! The first person who can get any of the primary participants on the show — no Marlee Matlin or Jack and no cameramen! — to talk about these recaps will get a Special Prize from my own personal house! So get tweeting about @scharpling, you apes!

Photo: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC