Raj Bhakta breaks down wall to become ninth 'Apprentice 2' boot
By Wade Paulsen, 11/05/2004
Despite being one of the few project managers willing to accept blame for his team's mistakes, the skirt-chasing Raj Bhakta became the ninth casualty of Donald Trump's "boardroom" on NBC's The Apprentice 2 -- though it appeared that Raj's biggest mistakes came in the boardroom, not the task.
For the ninth episode, the bow-tied Raj was randomly selected as project manager of Apex, while the previously-invisible Sandy Ferreira became project manager for Mosaic. The teams were given the task of increasing the appraised value of two nearly-identical houses within a tight time frame and a $20,000 budget, with the team achieving the largest percentage increase in appraised value winning.
Although this task would appear to favor Apex, since Raj is a real estate investor, both teams came up with a similar strategy -- spruce the houses up and add a bathroom. Raj, however, made the bizarre decision to also remove a wall, thus converting a four-bedroom house into a three-bedroom.
As the task ground on, both teams ran into trouble with their contractors. For Mosaic, Andy Litinsky was able to find a second contractor, who brought a seemingly endless supply of family to help -- and the renovation was finished on time, much to the relief of a previously-tearful Sandy.
Apex, which had picked a contractor based on the recommendation of Kevin Allen, found the contractor and his crew taking a break, even though the second bathroom wasn't done and the time limit was almost up. Despite Raj's best efforts at persuasion, the contractor refused to cut the break short, and even though Apex raced around like crazy to help finish up, the bathroom was not finished at the time of the appraisal tour.
Ultimately, Apex increased the appraised value of its house from $385,000 to $412,500 -- an increase of 7.1% (but only $7,500 greater than the team's $20,000 budget). Mosaic's dual-contractor approach increased its house's appraised value from $390,000 to $430,000 -- an increase of 10.3%. The Donald took special note of Rob's very strong performance for the winners ... as well as noting that Stacie worked hard and never appeared to be the schizophrenic loose cannon alleged by the other women at the time she was fired.
As a reward, Mosaic flew for a visit to the Hamptons home of politically-connected songwriter Denise Rich, ex-wife of former fugitive financier Marc Rich, who was controversially pardoned on the last day of Bill Clinton's presidency. Apex, of course, headed for the boardroom.
Prior to it, attorney Jennifer Massey had told Raj that she would like to try to take Ivana out, apparently because she's trying to boot every other woman on the show, and she left no slam unused in the boardroom effort. Raj, surprisingly, took full responsibility as the team leader for the selection of the contractor, despite Kevin's key role in the choice. In a critical blunder, Raj ended up taking Kevin and Ivana to the boardroom with him.
Before the rest of Apex was dismissed, though, Chris Russo told Trump, Carolyn Kepcher and "George fill-in" Matt Calamari (the COO of The Trump Organization) that "the chemistry on this team is horrible" and that "if this team stays the same, no matter who stays or goes, we will be defeated again next week." The panel was unimpressed by Chris' lament, as Carolyn called him "disloyal" and Trump offered Raj the chance to bring Chris to the boardroom as well. In a second critical blunder, Raj declined -- at which point Trump designated Chris as the next Apex project manager.
The boardroom session itself was rather speedy and more focused on Raj's decisions to bring Ivana to the boardroom, although she had performed well during the task, and to exclude Chris from the boardroom. A tuxedoed and bow-tied Trump then fired Raj. In a true reversion to form, Raj tried to get the phone number of Robin the receptionist before leaving Trump Tower for the last time.
Previews for next week's episode indcate that the teams will have to run a bridal salon -- Sandy's real-life line of work, which may give Mosaic an edge -- and also hint that Apex project manager Chris may not fare any better than his two predecessors (Raj and Elizabeth Jarosz), who were both fired. Looks like it's just about time for another "corporate" restructuring.