Celebrity Apprentice: Better Than Expected (Did I Really Just Type That?)

I swore that I was not going to tune in to watch what I was certain would be the car wreck titled Celebrity Apprentice on NBC. I wasn't going to watch it or even mention it here on Screen Rant.

But my wife wanted to watch at least the first episode, and I'll be damned if I wasn't going to watch it if she was... and guess what?

It was far better than I expected.

Now I'm not saying it was great television, just that it looks like this twist may actually have made it worth watching again if you were a fan of earlier seasons of the show. What exactly made it worth watching? Not what, exactly, but who:

Gene Simmons.

The dude just rocks (pun heavily intended). For those of you totally out of the loop, Gene Simmons was one of the founding members of the rock group KISS. That was as deep as I delved into hard rock back in my youth. The guys were brilliant with their wild approach to being a rock band, and they serve to this day as a reason for me to keep mouth (mostly) shut about what today's youth likes in music. :-)

He comes across like some low key, quiet guy, who opens his mouth now and then only to let escape some tidbit worthy of a Zen Master.

I thought that the series would dip deep into some real bottom-list celebrities, but although not exactly A-list, they've put together an interesting and non-has-been group which includes:

- Lennox Lewis - 3 time heavyweight champ

- Marilu Henner - Famous "Taxi" driver (She's been out of the loop for a while, but I like her)

- Nadia Comaneci - Olympic legend (Ok, this one is pushing it)

- Vincent Pastore - Former Soprano

- Tiffany Fallon - The 2005 Playmate of the Year

- Gene Simmons - Founding member of the rock band KISS

- Carol Alt - Former (and one of the first) supermodel

- Stephen Baldwin (The Christian one)

- Trace Adkins - Country singer

- Omarosa (Just for drama, of course. And it's working.)

In this first episode Omarosa stepped up to be the leader of the women's team and she obviously plays up her reputation as a she-devil - so much so that she actually seems to be acting instead of being herself. Considering the combined amount of celebrity ego surrounding her she is utterly out-gunned in that department, although she tries her best to look down her nose at others.

They are all playing for charities, and the first task was to raise the most amount of money possible by selling hot dogs from a street cart. The men's team (named "Hydra" by Simmons) did the brainstorming thing, when Gene announced that this wasn't about selling $5 hot dogs, it was about tapping into their network of rich friends to show up and buy $5,000 hot dogs. He commences to pull out his little black book and starts dialing.

Freaking brilliant.

Meanwhile, on the women's team (named Impressario... yawn) Omarosa specifically shot down others' idea that this should be more about celebrity than hot dogs. She said it was about "delivering a quality product."

Freaking duh.

So instead of capitalizing on the insane concentration of gorgeous women at her disposal, she slaps them all into t-shirts with a hot dog on them, jeans and ball caps to completely obscure their greatest asset. Eventually they got around to selling hot dogs at $100 apiece, but Marilu Henner sparked to the same idea that Gene Simmons had: Call wealthy friends.

In the end, the men's team trounced the women's team, bringing in over $50,000 to the women's $17,000. And yet, somehow... Omarosa survived the boardroom.

In a twist, the men were able to watch the goings on in the boardroom except for the bit with the final three. In another classic Simmons moment, as he watched what was transpiring he commented on how Omarosa just could not be killed... much like a cockroach.

So yes, I've been sucked back in to yet another season of this show. At least I can say that I gave up Survivor a couple of years ago and have never looked back...

Official site: Celebrity Apprentice

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