Tonight is the finale of Celebrity Apprentice 5 where Clay Aiken and Arsenio Hall will square off to determine who is the fifth Celebrity Apprentice in the weakest season of the show I've seen yet. I've watched every season except the first and, on the whole, this one has been a frustrating, dull, disappointing experience. The line-up of celebrities had potential, but quickly devolved into the same tedious problems week after week, not helped by this season skewing wildly away from fundraising tasks towards 'creative' ones (I hate that fucking word now), creating a fairly repetitive pattern of tasks week after week. But, nonetheless, here are some thoughts on the season:
* The first episode was a genuine 'game changer' for the show, I think. Paul Teutul, Sr. winning the fundraising task because of one donation of $305,000 basically gave a big "Fuck you" to fundraising tasks. It was a cheap win that made everything we saw completely worthless. Of course, fundraising tasks have always been worthless and ripe for someone to exploit them like this. I don't think it's a coincidence, though, that the season began with this and only featured one other fundraising task (before the final task, which is part fundraising, part 'creative' as always). Usually, the show tries to keep things relatively even and Paul, Sr. looks to be the man who killed the fundraiser.
* Victoria Gotti getting fired in the second week was a big plus, because those 'She's with the mob and may kill me' jokes got old after the first episode.
* Week four was the first sign that this season was fucked. The first three episodes were your typical Celebrity Apprentice bullshit. Episode four was the one where Adam Carolla and Michael Andretti were fired because Andretti didn't want to give Buick a free endoresement, basically. The task was to do a presentation for a new Buick car along with a Q&A about it. The men were obviously superior in executing this task. Not even close. But, the Buick executives didn't like that Carolla was the project manager instead of Andretti, so the women won. The irony, of course, was that Andretti played a big part in the presentation and the execs didn't like him as a public speaker. So, their complaint was that they wanted more Andretti, but also thought he wasn't suited to something like this. It was a bullshit decision that was obviously based on Buick wanting to take advantage of the Andretti name and Andretti obviously not entirely comfortable with giving an endorsement to a product because someone else says he has to (and for free). Carolla was fired when he took responsibility for the loss instead of trying to blame anyone else -- and, then, Trump fired someone else because how dare anyone take responsibility for losing when it's their fault? It was a joke and one of those times where you can't help but wonder how Trump succeeded in business if that's how he runs his company. That Tia Carrere was fired the next week, taking full responsibility and not bringing anyone back to the boardroom made the fucked up fourth week stand out even more, because there was no consistency.
* Inconsistency was a big issue. Trump would waver wildly between blaming people who came up with the initial concepts and project managers who approved and oversaw their execution. Some would praise the inability to predict Trump, but, at this point, it's just annoying. He swerves for the sake of it most of the time it seems.
* The episode that was on the same night as the Academy Awards was horrible to watch. The boardroom began shortly after ten and went on forever into a surprisingly long overrun. If anything makes me glad that the show will only be an hour next season, it's an episode like that. I genuinely wanted the men to lose in those early episodes because I couldn't stand the boardroom with the women.
* It took far too long for someone to point out that Aubrey O'Day spearheading the 'creative' on the women's team and, then, losing is something that they could use against her instead of allowing her to continue to act like she's amazing.
* The Clay Aiken/Pen Jillette mini-feud was a little lame.
* It was funny how much the women hated Dayana Mendoza and, then, how easily the men worked with her right away much to the horror of Lisa Lampanelli.
* Lisa grew from someone who seemed like they could win into someone you rooted against. Her inability to distinguish between Dayana being upset over 'not being the star' and not being included at all was amazing. Aside from Aubrey, no one had a larger gap between how they perceived themselves and how they came across.
* I will never forgive Arsenio for backing off his rant on Aubrey.
* Dee Snyder getting fired stood out as another big mistake for the show. Same with Penn getting fired. Looking back, if I were to have chosen two people to be in the finals, it would have been those two. But, both of their firings, pointed to a large problem the celebrities had this year: defending themselves in the boardroom. They were pisspoor at making arguments for why they should stay, aside from Aubrey. She was always good at attacking others and mentioning everything she could possibly be credited for doing. Everyone else fell into the trap of trying to be nice and not using rhetoric and logic well.
* I was surprised in a few instances that no one tried to argue with the decision of the judges. The Buick one and the Trump cologne taks stood out as times when arguing against the choices and reasons might have worked.
* I wish someone said to Aubrey "You know how I know you're not really creative? You don't use any other words to say you are!"
* Lou Ferrigno was an endless source of amusement. You know there were drinking games centred around him saying "a hundred and ten percent."
* The biggest flaw of this season was the paperthin abilities of the celebrities. In the past, numerous people stood out as possible winners, while, this time, it seemed like you had a bunch of losers, a bunch of second-tier 'capable' people who didn't stand above the rest, and only a couple of possible winners -- and they were fired. By the time we hit the final five, it was apparent that this was the weakest final five yet and, no matter who won, this season was a dud. That every task save two was a 'creative' task really stopped people with blind spots or gaps in ability from standing out like usual. Changing up the tasks was a way to judge who was well-rounded, not simply good at one thing, and this season didn't do that.
So, we're left with Arsenio and Clay and... both are safe, crowd-pleasing choices. Neither stood out too much, good or bad. No one will be upset if either wins, I imagine, though most probably lean one way or another. Maybe this show has run its course.