The rest of the media world is catching up to us here at InkWell–that is to say, catching on that The Apprentice, the NBC biz-reality show starring Donald Trump and those who yearn to work for him, is hot. Most of the media commentary to date, however, consists of old-line feminist horror that the young women competing for the job as Trump’s amanuensis are–surprise, surprise–using their looks and sex appeal to beat out their male rivals. (See Dahlia Lithwick’s “Apprentice” column in Slate, harumphing that “[t]he show mostly just proves that prostitution really is the world’s oldest and most lucrative profession,” for a sample of the ’70s-feminist grumbling.) It’s the Gambling At Rick’s (“shocked, shocked!”) syndrome that seems to plague the doctrinaire wing of the women’s movement whenever their younger sisters put on makeup, get married, or whatever.
Last night, though the old-time fems had little to worry about, for the “Apprentice” females had forsaken their tiny T-shirts and were back in business attire. The two competing, and now co-ed, teams, Protege and Versacorp, had the task of negotiating with a bunch of celebrities pre-selected for each team who would be auctioning themselves off at a benefit for a children’s AIDS foundation. The task was to persuade the celebs–people like Regis Philbin and Carson Daly–to donate a maximum of quality time that would drive up the auction bids. Sex went out the window last night as the Trump gals demonstrated what women really use to get ahead (and it’s a topic that the doctrinaire feminists don’t like to get near): sheer verbal nastiness.
All audience eyes–or at least, both of mine–were on the Protege team, whose nicey-nice project leader, Kristi Frank, got fired by Trump last week thanks in part to maneuvering on the part of Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, the meanest aspiring exec on the planet. Kristi blew her assignment big-time last week, however, well deserving her one-way trip on the down elevator.
This week, perhaps because the Protege folks can stand Omarosa about as much as I can, they picked her as project leader. And this week, the race was close. Protege lost again, but its celebs netted $35,000 for the kids at the auction, in contrast to winner Versacorp’s $40,000. But someone at Protege had to get fired, and Omarosa made darned sure it wasn’t going to be she. Omarosa fingered Jessie Connors, whose negotiating syle with designer Isaac Mizrahi, one of the Protege celebs, hadn’t exactly been slick. Just for insurance, at the called-on-the carpet meeting Trump held for the Protege losers, Omarosa declared that her other female teammate, Heidi Bressler, had been “unprofessional” and had “no class”–but nonethless, said Omarosa of Heidi, “I like her.” Sure. Trump finally fired Jessie, mostly for the sin of not fighting Omarosa back.
If I’d been Trump, I would have fired Jessie, too, because you can’t be afraid to make enemies in order to get ahead (I’ve been a manager myself from time to time, and I know what it’s like). But Jessie wasn’t really responsible for Protege’s narrow loss. Mizrahi ended up giving his time generously–a day in his shop plus eight original designs, all of which went for a respectable $7,000 at the auction. The Versacorp team just happened to have better celebs, including the “Queer Eye” five ($9,000) and hot NYC restaurateur Rocco ($13,000). Anyone would rather eat a fine free meal than gab with Mizrahi. If anyone was to blame for the Protege loss, it was Omarosa, who started ragging, and likely, demoralizing, her teammates in public from the get-go. (Oh, and she couldn’t manage to pronounce “Mizrahi” correctly, a failing she shared with all of her teammates.) An abrasive Howell Raines-like management style may be fine as long as you’re winning–but don’t try to justify it when you lose. Trump forthrightly told Omarosa that she’d been rude to both her female teammates, but there were no apologies to be had. I predict that girl goes down in flames one of these weeks–and I can’t wait.
Meanwhile, just like last week, the two guys on the Protege team, Kwame Jackson and Troy McClain, just sat back, smiled humbly, and let the girls fight it out. Feminists, prick up your ears. This may be the real reason that guys come out ahead.