How Celebrity Apprentice is like real life

January 8, 2015

How many of these C-listers can you identify?

The new season of Celebrity Apprentice has begun and —–I’m fairly certain that among my peers, my love of the TV show is a minority view.

Say what you will about Mr. Trump, and I’ll say more about him later, but the show is genius, so on target that when I taught Teamwork at the college level, one homework assignment involved analyzing the team on that season’s show.

The show is a game, really, in which celebrities compete in teams to win tasks, until finally, they compete individually for the crown. The beauty of the show is the teamwork portion, in which every strength and weakness of any team effort is on display. Which is to say celebrities either make complete asses of themselves or display skills we never thought they’d have.

You’ve worked in teams, I know you have, and I’ll bet you could say a lot about those experiences, right? Well, no need to say a word—just watch the show and the familiarity of the characters will hit home. I’ll share here some of the major teamwork lessons I’ve learned from the current season of Celebrity Apprentice.

Competitors are mostly C-list celebrities. I say “mostly,” because the late Joan Rivers was a competitor and a winner —  she will appear this season in segments taped before her tragic death. But for the most part, they’re actors or performers who hope the visibility will provide a career boost. Or maybe they just want attention.


Celebrity competitors should all have this tattooed on their foreheads. No exceptions.

Teamwork Lesson #1:  Avoid needy attention whores
And speaking of attention, you and I have both been on teams in which one individual is an attention whore—a person who is so in need of validation that his or her contribution must not only be the right approach, but must be chosen and that person must be lauded for the contribution.  That’s a person with a bottomless pit of need for the affirmation that being admired provides.

Yes, I am talking about Geraldo Rivera –a more whiny attention whore has never been on the show. He is—pathetic. Shockingly so. From having a loud and distracting personal conversation with his lawyer while his team tried to meet with execs in charge of the the team assignment to overtalking and drowning out the rest of his team members—well, let’s say it brought back memories. And what a great opportunity to evaluate our own behavior to be sure we don’t act like Geraldo. I was hoping to hear Mr. Trump say “Geraldo? You’re fired!” in one of the first few episodes, but , no. Still, it can’t be far behind. God help us if he wins.  Geraldo, you’ve done yourself no favors by putting yourself on this show. Trust me.

Teamwork Lesson #2: Never underestimate a 27-year-old
I can’t say I’ve ever heard a Jonas Brothers song, but Kevin Jonas was fired way too soon. He was smart, organized and had great ideas. I think he’d be a kick-ass young executive, except that he’s a bit green, still. As team leader, he purposely left the attention-whore mentioned above out in the cold. Nothing worse than ignoring a needy guy,  and with Geraldo as Kevin’s enemy, well, let’s just say it was a bad move. And that is the problem with inexperience. A few more years on Kevin and he’ll be a force to contend with in business matters. In fact, he already is.  Kudos to you, young man!

Teamwork Lesson #3:  Don’t use your period as an excuse for poor performance
Oh dear, the women’s team is a mess. They’re cat-fighting and I’m just waiting for the bitch-slap. Olympic champion Shawn Johnson made the mistake of telling team leader that she was going to under-perform that day because it was her time of the month. Of course, this made team leader Vivica Fox see red (no pun intended). No surprise that in the board room Fox tried to do Johnson in — and Johnson saw red that Fox had brought up her menstrual cycle on national television. Ivanka Trump broke her usual stone face with a smile of…disbelief… and Mr. Trump noted with surprised amusement that it was “the first time he’d heard that excuse in the board room.” Oh yeah, those girls are bitchy. Despite Kenya Moore’s reputation as vicious in the board room, the Miss Universe winner had the best line of the evening, a retort to Johnson: “We’re women, we rule the world and there is no period of time when we’re weaker!”

I couldn’t help but wonder what Johnson did when a gymnastics meet was scheduled during her time of the month. Then, I remembered that gymnasts often don’t get their periods. So having periods again after she retired must have been a huge shock. Get over it, girl.

Teamwork Lesson #3:  Any bitch can be out-bitched
Kate Gosselin is on this show and she looks like hell. I’m not sure if it’s work gone bad or what, but oh, Lordy, she looks bad. Now, I don’t know Kate and have only seen small snippets of her horrific TV shows…. but do know her reputation as a bitch. However, on this program she is out-bitched by a long shot –Brandi Glanville, Fox, Moore—they’re all far meaner than Kate. This seems to be confusing for Kate as she acts hesitant, unsure and insecure on the show.  So really, no matter how bitchy she is, ANY bitch can be out-bitched.

Teamwork Lesson #4:  The ends do not justify the means
I had never heard of Comedian Gilbert Gottfried until now, but I can’t say this show did him any favors.  Except maybe among Borscht Belt comedy fans. (Geraldo, meet Gilbert.) His contribution to a food event task included a not-so-funny shtick about how women wouldn’t have sex with him. It was inappropriate and fell flat, contributing to the men’s loss of that task. Trump fired Gottfried. But even after that, the comedian said that he thought getting just one laugh was meeting the objective. Umm. Gilbert? The task was to market a product, not make people laugh. No one laughed, anyway, and in this case the means and end didn’t work out so well.

Teamwork Lesson #5: Some people age better than others
Ian Ziering from Beverly Hills 90210 was a fox when he hung out at the Peach Pit from 1990 to 2000 and he’s a fox still at…wait for it…50. OMG, Ian is 50 years old! (oh, and it’s pronounced EYE-IN.) If he’s had work done, and I’m sure he has, it’s excellent. EYE-IN, we want your surgeon’s name and number!

Celebrity-ApprenticeAnd now, on to Mr. Trump, which is the charmingly old-school way contestants refer to him. Never as Donald.

Yes, of course, he’s a blowhard and I think his politics are ridiculous. And his businesses aren’t exactly super-successful, although you’d never know it from the things he says.

BUT. He’s raised four accomplished and well-educated kids (Wharton, U of Pennsylvania sociology, Georgetown) with his youngest still coming up through school. He becomes decidedly mushy when talking about them. He has never touched a cigarette or alcohol, ever, because he promised his father he wouldn’t.

I think he’s a fascinating guy and probably has enough complexity to keep a staff of psychologists busy for decades.

So, those are the top five teamwork lessons I’ve learned from this season’s show. So far. I’m sure there will be much more to come.

Dear readers, if you follow the show or have an opinion at all on team behavior or your own experiences, I’d love to hear it.

32 comments on “How Celebrity Apprentice is like real life
  1. Patricia says:

    I don’t follow the show anymore. But I will follow you if you recap every week. This made me think I want to see it. This was hilarious Carol.

  2. Linda says:

    I cannot stand Kate Gosselin, and I winced whenever she was onscreen. But you’re right, she does look bad and she does seem hesitant or something. Way too cautious. My guess is she’s trying to play down her bitch persona and come off as meek. She had on so much pancake makeup, she looked like a corpse.

    Why oh why do some people have to play the PMS card? Don’t ever in a business situation tell people you are unable to perform because of your “woman issues”. Gloria Steinem got chills at that moment even though I’m sure she wasn’t watching.

    Is it just me, or are we not all tired of Gilbert Gottfried showing up on every dang reality show this side of “Wife Swap”?

    I agree that the Jonas kid was smart, but I kind of wanted to smack him for going on and on about his amazing social media reach. I wanted to reach out to his cheek with the back side o’ my hand. haha

    Crossing my fingers that Kate goes quickly.

  3. I actually like the show but have missed it this season. I guess with so many other things going on. Maybe I can catch some back episodes and catch up. This is a great peek at what to expect and the ones you mentioned, Gilbert (I personally can’t stand and have only seen him once on Celebrity Wife Swap), Geraldo (don’t get me started, can’t stand his whiney ass!), I do like Vivica Fox, don’t care much for Kenya Moore (that’s from Housewives of Atlanta which gives me a headache anyway). I also agree about Kate Goslin saw a preview of her new show 8 teenagers and she looks like she has been doing crack for the last few years but I would love to see her with the Queen bitches since she is just a Princess bitch!

  4. I have watched passed seasons of CA, but I haven’t watched yet this year. Wowza. Lots of drama going on. I wish the women would pull themselves together. They are making a bad name for our gender based on the snippets you’re offering. Thanks for the overview.

  5. I love this show too. Great recap. I hope you’ll continue this weekly Carol!

  6. Risa says:

    I sometimes feel like I’m the only person who sees this show as a series of (overproduced and edited) case studies about the inner workings of teams. It brings back memories of the organizational behavior class I took in college, not to mention real-life situations in a number of different contexts. I’m fascinated with this show, not so much because of the contestants and their sometimes dubious designation as celebrities, but for the way true strengths and leadership (or lack of same) reveal themselves in surprising ways. Yes, we have probably all known a Geraldo type (and I wonder how he sees himself in this context: always right and the smartest person in the room!) and man, does he look like an ass walking around with his phone during an important meeting! But I’m happy to engage in conversation about the show because I think it’s as irresistible as you do! I could do without the instant postmortems (“You made the right decision”), which seem overly smarmy, but that’s the Donald way. Looking forward to further discussion in the weeks to come! That was some teaser for next week…

    • Girlfriend, I am so happy to share this take on the show with you–it’s so obvious to me that these are team archetypes and human behavior in groups–and group behavior–has always fascinated me. I will have to continue this, then!

  7. Bouncin Barb says:

    Believe it or not Carol, I’ve just seen the show for the first time this week. My new man is a huge fan of the show and of The Donald so he asked me to give it a try. I have to say that aside from all the drama, it really makes sense to me also. My career was always in management and and a good manager doesn’t manage, they lead. They create teams, they communicate and sometimes they have to get rid of the weak link. Nobody said it was easy. I related on so many levels to the show. So I will watch it again next week! Great post.

  8. OMGosh Carol, thank you for the enlightening review. I haven’t watched the show in years but I am sure that you are right on. Your “lessons from” certainly are. The made-for-television C-list celebrities’ behaviors seem like they’re not so far off from IRL corporate antics. Except for the humor bit! 😛

  9. Thanks for the recap and explanations, Carol. I’ve never watched this show because I don’t care for Donald Trump and I can’t get past that. In NY and FL, both places I frequent, he has built, built and overbuilt. I used to work for his competitor and he was a monster, albeit a brilliant one.

    I’d rather read your recaps and learn from you because from your point of view it’s very interesting.

  10. I used to work with a woman who used No. 3 every darn month. Drove me nuts.

    I’ve not seen Celebrity Apprentice (or any Apprentice) except for a brief moment the other night when Lorenzo and Geraldo were going at it. It confirmed why I’ve never been intrigued by the show. (Though now you have me thinking twice.)

  11. Estelle says:

    Carol, What a great analysis. I haven’t seen this season’s show but I love all your comments on it, and feel I’ll get up to speed in no time. I think that Donald Trump did raise his kids right. They might all be entitled (I mean who names their kid Baron)? but they do work hard-particularly Ivanka. I also hear that he treats women in his employee well. Loved when Joan Rivers was on; she pulled no punches!

  12. You already know my views on celebrity… but this post shows that intelligent women can find patterns and aspects of situations that that those of lesser brain power would miss. And sometimes even asshats can have good kids.

    • OMG it is a real parallel to organizations in which I’ve worked. Plus you know that I did a PhD program in social psych, the study of group behavior. Didn’t finish, but didn’t lose my fascination. I am certain dissertations have been written on this show.

  13. I’ve been waiting for this particular season to come on because of all the celebrities since most of them I know and have grown up with. Thanks to the recap, I’ll definitely make sure the DVR is set so I don’t miss another episode! Thanks so much for this!

  14. Carolann says:

    I think I watch a few episodes when the show first came out but quickly lost interest. I guess I will have to check it out again. You truly gave a comprehensive synopsis of it for sure thanks!

  15. I watched this when it first came out and thought it was fascinating. Because I no longer have any respect for the Donald (who does not deserve to be called Mr. Trump), I will not support him or anything he does any more. I did like reading your post, though 🙂

    • I like the old-school reference to people in general, I think we have too little respect in our world. Well, I know a bit about the Donald and its not that good, but I do think that show is genius and teaches so much. Stick with my next analyses, if I do them!

  16. Alana says:

    I haven’t watched the show in years but I enjoyed your analysis so much that I shared it on LinkedIn with my contacts. I might watch it, though, just to watch Joan Rivers.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "How Celebrity Apprentice is like real life"
  1. […] Two weeks have passed and another four hours of, you guessed it, Celebrity Apprentice 2015. More business lessons to be learned—or reinforced. You may remember my last recap, found HERE. […]

  2. […] IN MY OTHER RECAPS OF THIS SEASON?  Here’s one, and here’s the […]

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