Friday, January 30, 2004

You're fired

Now this is all that reality TV can be. Not a gang of strangers forming alliances and performng ridiculous tasks in an artificial closed environment — this is the game of life. I love The Apprentice.

Sixteen people of various backgrounds — self-made men and women with street smarts and no formal education, Harvard MBAs, small business owners, executives and consultants — jump through believable hoops for Donald Trump in this ramped up version of a job competition, vying for the position of president of one of Trump's companies.

At the start Trump established two teams — the men and the women — and each week he sets a new challenge. Thus far: to sell lemonade on the streets of New York; to devise a marketing campaign for a private jet rental company; to negotiate the lowest price on a list of items, including a box of cigars and a leg wax; and to manage Planet Hollywood on Times Square for a night. The losing team meets with Donald Trump in the boardroom, where someone has to take responsibility for the loss. Someone is "fired."

The women have won every task to date. Now, watching last night, we were starting to get upset about this, because the women have used sex every time. Only in the marketing campaign, where, however blatant, it consisted of clever images and words, was it the least bit appropriate; otherwise, the women flash skin and play dumb to get what they want. If this is how it's going to be, they may as well prance around in their underwear till all the men have been eliminated.

But it seems this behaviour was starting to offend Donald Trump's sensibilities a little, too. He called the women aside to have a word, and wagged his finger at them. Tsk, tsk. Such bright women, such base behaviour.

Of course, they're playing to win, by any means possible. Who can blame them? Well, Trump can. It's his game, his rules. The women should feel shamed, but it seems this gaggle thinks there's something here that's open to debate. The strategy they use next week will be telling. (And watch out, cuz they can be catty little bitches.)

Yesterday's instalment was the first to bring us into the area of the ethically questionable. The men, to sell more merchandise, sold "autographs"; though they never lied, they created a context that intended to mislead. Meanwhile, the women pushed alcohol. Really pushed. To the extent that the restaurant's general manager needed to remind them that they can be held liable for incidents resulting from their patrons' condition on leaving, and to scold them for drinking on the job.

How far will they go to win this job? More importantly, how much brown-nosing can the TV-viewing public stomach to watch? Why doesn't Donald Trump just hire me and be done with it?

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