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Reality Check: "Apprentice" Cast Should Keep Their Day Jobs

As Donald Trump might say, first impressions are extremely important... you rarely get the chance to make up for a bad one and a good one can last a long time. Platitudes aside, I can say that, after watching the premiere of the new cycle of The Apprentice, the 18 "top notch" candidates they've assembled for the chance to vie for the title of Donald's umpteenth apprentice/slave fail to make a very good (or lasting) first impression.

Choosing the teams, as usual, is an awkward affair, this time complicated by having the candidates greet Trump a la arriving royalty on the airport tarmac as his private jet descends in New York. Saying a few words aboard the luxe aircraft, Trump then forces the candidates to disembark and try to withstand what appeared to be gale force winds as he randomly chooses two people to act as project managers (a Mensa member and a Harvard Business school grad). What follows is a typical high school gym class scenario and ultimately the oddball large guy is the last to be chosen.

The candidates are the usual mix of blonde agressive women, young turks, and even younger Ivy League grad upstarts. This year though brings us international diversity in the form of "The Russian" and Smarmy British Guy Who Thinks He's Hugh Grant. While it's still early days, no one on either team (Team Gold Rush and the cliched Team Synergy) stands out as a particularly strong player or brilliant businessperson. (In fact, they seem kinda bland, even by last season's standards. No Rebecca or Randall in sight so far.)

Their task, as most of them have been lately, was rather meh to say the least. Something to do with a promotion involving a blimp and two suburban Sam's Club locations, where the team that gets the most customers to upgrade their memberships wins. One team goes with offering free manicures and facials and enlists Smarmy British Guy to act as an erstwhile MC for the day; the other team offers a gift bag (empty gift bag, make that) to the first 450 or so people through the door.

The results: the spa-treatment team brings in 43 customer upgrades to duffle bag team's pathetic 40.

The boardroom is bizarre. Greasy-haired Mensa guy looks like a pit bull and keeps puffing out his nostrils as he shoots looks of murderous rage at Baby-Faced Cornell Grad, who seems to blame him for the loss. Trump appears to be ready to fire Mensa Guy when Loony Tunes Woman (who, according to my girlfriend, had "a nest of curls that could possibly be housing several small animals") interrupts him with some malarky about the "truth" and is promptly dismissed. Fairly obvious and anti-climactic end.

Honestly, if I had something else to watch on Monday evenings (aside from British mystery imports on BBC America), I'd easily quit watching. There's nothing exciting or innovative about the season so far and it all seems fairly formulaic and there are too many "wild cards" (read: talky and lazy) members on both teams.

But until one of the networks puts something of note on, I guess I'll keep watching... if only to see if Trump empire heir Ivanka can fill Carolyn's icy shoes.

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