There is only one thing predictable about a Celebrity Apprentice firing: It will be preceded by a long speech from Donald Trump praising the severed employee’s great accomplishments in the world of sports/modeling/being familiar. Other than that, it usually seems on first glance like an arbitrary selection, with Trump able to bypass any egregious errors or odd behavior with misdirected blame or a “You’re a crazy man, but I like you!” But if you look at the firing history of the last two Celebrity Apprentices, a definite method to his mercuriality emerges. And so, even without having seen any of this season’s episodes (two hours a night? What is this, Roots?), we can still predict the order of who will go when for the rest of the series, basing our guesses entirely on Trump psychology.
WEEK FOUR: Summer Sanders. To Trump, there is no greater indicator of business acumen than an Olympic gold medal. And yet, Trump has another Olympian to spare, so hard decisions must be made, and she must go the way of Nadia Comaneci (who went second in season one).
WEEK FIVE: Bret Michaels. Like Andrew “Dice” Clay (who went first last season), the outspoken eighties refugees are like supernovas, burning brightly in a blinding flame of nostalgia, but fading quickly.
WEEK SIX: Curtis Stone. Don’t tell Trump about synergy. Trump knows about synergy! Need we remind you about Trump Ice Spring Water? And so he was game to have on Curtis Stone, the chef from NBC’s Biggest Loser. But ultimately Trump will be uncomfortable acknowledging the presence of a reality show on the same network that does better than his own.
WEEK SEVEN: Holly Robinson Peete. Look, Trump knows that you were the real reason to hang with Mr. Cooper. And For Your Love? They should have called it For the Love of HRP. But as Marilu Henner once learned, the mid-season lull is the time for past sitcom stars to go.
WEEK EIGHT: Michael Johnson. It’s been eight weeks, so Trump is confident that by keeping the gold-medal sprinter around this long, he’s proven his patriotic credentials. But he’s running out of business-as-sport metaphors, so you’re fired.
WEEK NINE: Rod Blagojevich. It’s a delicate balance: Trump loves to keep his “wild men” around for a while for the entertainment, regardless of how ineffectual they are, but he also risks a reputation for endorsing an (allegedly!) delusional, corrupt politician. So why not do what Trump did last season with drunk driver Khloe Kardashian? Keep him around for a while, and then fire him irrelevant of the week’s task, with a high-road severance speech about how Trump just can’t tolerate his past shenanigans. The art of the deal!
WEEK TEN: Maria Kanellis. When firing his attractive candidates, Trump always paces himself. Anders first, this WWE champ a few weeks later … but he still keeps Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks in the game. Firing attractive women too quickly causes cramping in the Donald.
WEEK ELEVEN: Cyndi Lauper. Clueless conflict is fun and good for the show (see: Stephen Baldwin, Melissa Rivers), but have we all had enough? Yes? All right then.
WEEK TWELVE: Selita Ebanks. Okay, Melania’s getting a little angry, so you’re fired. Go, go, go. Donald Jr. will forward your bags.
WEEK THIRTEEN: Sharon Osbourne. She’s holding Joan Rivers’s “opinionated brassy old broad” spot, but Trump can’t be predictable by choosing the same genus of winner two years in a row. It’s that kind of unpredictability that keeps him on top! Are you writing this down? This is valuable business advice!
WEEK FOURTEEN: Bill Goldberg. Trump loves the muscles-brains dichotomy, even when it’s only in his own mind (see: Lennox Lewis). Does he really like it, or is he just scared of it? Either way: You’re hired!