NBC's hit Reality TV show featuring Donald Trump, one of the world's most recognized and most rich persons. The premise is that unlike most reality shows where contestants compete for somebody's love or for a lot of money, the people on The Apprentice are competing for a job -- more specifically, a job as Trump's "apprentice," working with and under him in his company. Both winners of Season One and Two worked on getting a new Trump building or buildings built.
For the first five seasons the show was set in New York City, moving to Los Angeles for its sixth and possibly final season in the spring of 2007. (Lower ratings for the sixth season prompted NBC to put the show in limbo and Trump to preemptively quit.) New York is where Trump Tower is and where the contestants live for the 18 weeks or so that they compete for the job. Usually the season begins with eighteen contestants, split off into two teams. The first two seasons began with splitting the men off onto one team and the women off onto another. So for a while it's a battle of the sexes -- for the most part. The twist on season two is that one man was sent over to the women's team and vice versa. One season the teams were "book smarts" vs. "street smarts." Other seasons the teams were split up with initially no thematic reason. Each week the teams, which are always headed by a "Project Manager" (one of the team members, sometimes selected at random), are assigned a task -- anything from selling lemonade on the street corner to organizing high-dollar charity events with celebrity emcees or designing new products for huge corporations. Each week there is a winning team and a losing team. Most often the winner is the one who makes the most money at their task. The losing team is brought into The Boardroom at the end of each episode where one -- or sometimes two of them -- are FIRED. Indeed, "you're fired" has become quite a catch phrase lately in the United States, the line Donald Trump soundly delivers to the losing contestant(s) each week.
"The Donald," as he's sometimes referred to, the first five seasons had help in The Boardroom from two of his closest associates, curmudgeonly, but wise George Ross and the sharp-spoken, beautiful Carolyn Kepcher. His helpers in the boardroom on season six were either his son Don Jr. or his daughter Ivanka and the winning project manager from the other team. Carolyn, George, and his kids examined the contestants and their tasks closely and help Trump make his decision on who to FIRE every week, until only two remain. The end of every season finale is live, where the winner is chosen, and finally one contestant hears what they'd been wanting to hear for months -- "You're hired!" The winner is given a lifetime job in the Trump organization making a hefty six-figure salary.
The reason that Carolyn wasn't on season six was that on August 31, 2006, she actually got the line "You're fired!" from Donald Trump after all the tv publicity turned her into a prima donna whose focus on fame and book and speech deals that she made critical mistakes in her actual job working for Trump.
SEASON ONE: Bill Rancic
SEASON TWO: Kelly Perdew
SEASON THREE: Kendra Todd
SEASON FOUR: Randal Pinkett
SEASON FIVE: Sean Yazbeck
SEASON SIX: Stefani Shaeffer
I'm not going to list all the losing contestants as there are too many. However, a few are worth mentioning. The top loser for season one was Kwame Jackson. It was between him and Bill and in the end Bill won because Kwame chose the infamous Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth to help him out on his final task (past firees are recruited to help the finalists in the end). Omarosa screwed up horribly and cost Kwame the job. Of course Bill also won because Trump thought he was better. The biggest loser for season two was Jennifer Massey, or "Jennifer M." as she was known for most of the show because there was an other contestant named Jennifer. She's a gorgeous, smart, savvy, and abrasive lawyer with one of the top firms in the world. She fought hard but lost in the end because of her losing record throughout the show. Trump had a very difficult time picking the winner there. The biggest loser from season three was Tana Goertz, a top saleswoman for Mary Kay and mother of two. That season the two groups were not men and women as it had been the previous two, but rather book smarts vs. street smarts (high school graduates vs. college graduates). In the end, the two finalists happened to be one from each group. Tana was the "street smarts" candidate, a hard-nosed, pull-no-punches kind of gal who was bested by Kendra Todd because of her inability to work well with her team on the final task.
The biggest loser from Season Four was 23-year-old Rebecca Jarvis. She broke her ankle while skating with the New York Islanders hockey team after her team won the second task in the second week. The rest of the show she hobbled around on crutches, but did not let that stop her. She's beautiful and smart and one of the toughest women to ever be on the show and her loyalty to another fired contestant, Toral Mehta, could have either been her biggest strength (her loyalty) or her biggest weakness. Toral almost got fired one week but Rebecca stood up for her and said she had unrealized potential, so Trump spared her. The next week Toral had an opportunity to step up and prove Rebecca right but all she did was prove her wrong by refusing to dress up in a costume for the task in which the team had to come up with a marketing character for Dairy Queen. Then she was fired. Rebecca's loyalty was repeatedly brought up throughout the rest of the show, mostly as a positive, by Trump, including the finale when it was up to either her or Randal - a heavily educated owner of a consultant firm who had a pristine record throughout the show as PM. In the end, Randal won, but something unusual happened. Trump, as in season two, had difficulty with the decision, having great admiration for both of them. After Randal's victory celebration, Trump called him back (on live TV, mind you - all of the finales are live) and asked Randal if, in his opinion, he would hire Rebecca, too. Both had to choose between two projects and each chose a different one. Randal, with perhaps Rebecca's future in his hands said "No," that the show was "the Apprentice, not the Apprenti." And Trump left it at that. For the first time there were almost two hirees, but it didn't happen. This shocked most Apprentice fans because all throughout the show Randal's niceness as well as great leadership were key factors in his character. That final episode aired on Thursday, December 15, 2005. Season Four was also unusual for other reasons. Several times Trump fired two instead of one in the Boardroom, the last time he did it was at the very end, firing Alla and Felisha, which left Rebecca and Randal as the final two. This eliminated the need for the usual interview episode which usually pares down the final three to the final two. At the end of one episode in Season Four, the show that saw the worst task loss ever where the teams were supposed to generate sales at Dick's Sporting Goods stores and the losing team actually cost the store money, Trump fired four candidates in one fell swoop!
The biggest loser from Season Five was 22-year-old Lee Bienstock, a devout Jewish contestant who was the youngest ever to be a finalist. He had a 3-1 record as Project Manager, was the PM the most times out of any contestant. He was frequently referred to as "the politician" by Trump because of his skillful rhetoric in the boardroom. He missed two projects because of Jewish holidays, but Trump didn't see that negatively at all and was in fact impressed by his devotion to his faith. Other contestants didn't quite see it that way. Lenny Veltman, the wise-cracking Russian and Trading Company Owner, one of the first two foreign apprentice wannabes, was a little too obtuse at times who charged full forward with ideas that were often not very good ones. The other was the winner of Season Five, Sean Yazbeck, the first British Apprentice. Lee lost to him because of probably his youth, inexperience, and less-than-stellar performance in the final task, a celebrity hockey game for charity, where he had chosen for his team Lenny and Pepe, a contestant who had only made it to the second week (a move that had boggled everybody's minds). Sean had chosen for his team Tammy Lee - the contestant he had fallen in love with - and Andrea Lake, a much better team. Tarek Saab, another big loser from Season Five, was a member of the MENSA Society and was almost fired in the first week. Trump never could see his supposed high I.Q. as he was in the boardroom many times and had had his share of boneheaded performances. Also of note on Season Five were the top two female candidates, Allie Jablon and Roxanne Wilson. In the final task they were up against Lee and Sean and both were fired because in the boardroom they attacked each other viciously, a move Trump found disgraceful because they had been such best friends up until that point.
The biggest loser for Season Six, the Los Angeles losers-sleep-in-tents season, was James Sun, an internet company owner. On the final tasks he was teamed up with Stefani Schaeffer, a defense attorney and winner of season six, and both did extremely well together. James was a hard worker and had a creative edge to him but ultimately was not chosen. Actually there were three biggest losers that season because Trump didn't narrow it down to two before the final episode. Nicole D'Ambrosio, a real estate broker, and Frank Lombardi, a real estate developer, were also present for the finale and fired as a pair before James was. Frank made it all the way to the finale partly because of his no-nonsense attitude and work ethic (and Bronx accent; his New York origins helped Trump relate to him more than most of the other candidates). Nicole was almost a female version of Frank and had developed a romance with contestant Tim Urban, a tutoring company owner.
Chris Shelton, also a "street smarts" candidate from season three, was a chronic hothead and tobacco chewer and was on the losing team nine times in a row, narrowly avoiding being fired almost every time. Finally on the ninth time, Trump had had enough of him. After being fired he cried, the only contestant so far to do so.
Troy McClain from season one was most famous for being one of the only contestants in the first two seasons not to have attended college and was a southern-accented and sharp-witted self-made success in his own right. Andy, U.S. National Debate Championship from season two, was the youngest contestant ever whom Trump took a liking to. He made it to the final six and finally lost after getting eaten alive by his two female teammates in The Boardroom. Bradford was fired in only the second week of season two. He was one of the best contestants and would have went to the final two had he not made a critical error in The Boardroom, showing false bravado by being cavalier about giving up his exempt status, which he earned by leading the women to victory in Task One. Ivana from season two has become famous for dropping her skirt to sell a candy bar for twenty dollars on the final team task (she made it to the final four -- the final three are always sent on grueling interviews after which one is fired).
The theme song for the show is, appropriately, "For the Love of Money," originally performed by the O'Jays.
I am not normally a viewer of reality tv. I find most of it trite and not much about reality at all. However, I like the Apprentice because the people are competing for a job, a real job working for Trump, not somebody's love or money. The contestants are grilled, the tasks are tough -- as well as the job to win, and they use their business and street smarts, as well as their education, to get ahead, not usually something perfunctory like their looks. That's what makes The Apprentice exciting for me and millions of other viewers. The show has become a cash cow for NBC with great ratings (even though season two rated lower than season one) and revenue from product plugs (the contestants designed a new catalog for Levi's jeans in one episode). The first season aired in spring 2004. The second aired in fall 2004 and the third season ran from January 20 to May 19, 2005. The fourth season began on September 22, 2005 and ended on December 15, 2005. The fifth season began in March, 2006 and ran until June 5, 2006. The sixth season, where the winners each week slept in a mansion and the losers slept in "tent city" ran from January 7, 2007 to April 22, 2007.
In Fall, 2005, a few weeks after the premiere of season four of Donald's "Apprentice," a new version began featuring Martha Stewart instead of Trump -- same format, basically. And its ratings were abysmal and it probably won't have a season two.
"The Apprentice" is produced by Mark Burnett Productions in association with Trump Productions LLC. Mark Burnett, Donald Trump and Jay Bienstock are executive producers.