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Donald Trump's 'The Apprentice 5' finalists begin their final tasks


By Tim Andrews, 05/30/2006 

With last week's double firing of Allie Jablon and Roxanne Wilson having narrowed The Apprentice 5's field to the competition's two finalists, last night's The Apprentice broadcast set the stage for next week's live finale.

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Following the women's boardroom firing, Sean Yazbeck a 33-year-old recruitment consultant from London, England and Lee Bienstock a 22-year-old business analyst from Brooklyn, NY, were called back into the boardroom in order to be told the good news by Donald Trump himself. After congratulating them on their success thus far, he explained that they would need to go back to the suite and each come up with a list of three teammates to assist them on the biggest task they have had thus far. To their surprise, upon returning to the suite the other sixteen contestants -- including Allie and Roxanne, who had just been fired hours earlier -- were waiting in the suite to greet them.

With the entire group there, Sean immediately pulled aside former Synergy teammates Tammy Trenta and Andrea Lake and informed them that he wanted them on his team. Then, after some consultation with the two women, he settled on Tarek Saab as the final member of his team. Although Tarek had never worked with the rest of Sean's team members, Andrea -- who felt that she and Tarek were "the most intelligent" contestants there -- strongly recommended that Sean select him.

Meanwhile, while Sean appeared to be extremely focused on determining the composition of his final task team, Lee appeared to take a different approach. After initially appearing more interested in celebrating being in the Final Two, he pulled Lenny Veltman, his best friend and mentor, aside and, with Lenny seemingly making the decisions, they appeared to select their team using a criteria in which each former contestant's loyalties to Lenny and Lee was more important than their competence.

Given Lenny and Lee's selection criteria, many of The Apprentice 5's stronger previously eliminated contestants were not even considered. Instead, the second member of Lee's team was Jose "Pepi" Diaz, an unmemorable candidate whom Trump had fired way back in the season's second episode. Later, Sean joked that he was "surprised" Lee even remembered Pepi's name, much less picked him. For the final slot of their team, the pair picked Roxanne, who since she had no apparent ties to any of her new teammates nor an advocate within the group as Tarek did, appeared primarily qualified because she was not on Lenny's bad side.

The next morning, Lee and Sean took their new teams to the boardroom, introduced them to The Donald, and learned what their final task assignments would be. Once there, Trump praised how Lee and Sean had overcome incredibly long odds just to make it to the competition's finals. As has been the case with most The Apprentice seasons, both of the final tasks involved running charity events. This season, the two tasks were a charity hockey game benefiting The Leary Firefighters Foundation, Denis Leary's firefighter assistance charity, and a Bare Naked Ladies charity concert benefiting the World Wildlife Fund. Both events had the same corporate sponsor, Pontiac. After both Sean and Lee picked the concert task to work, Lee acquiesced and decided he didn't care which event he ran and was fine running the hockey game.

Once their teams and their tasks were settled and Sean's team deemed to be the new Synergy Corporation (Lee's team retained the Gold Rush Corporation title), the teams left the boardroom to begin executing their final tasks. After they left, Trump assistant Carolyn Kepcher burst out laughing and, unable to contain her surprise that Lee had selected Pepi to serve as one of his final task assistants, openly wondered "who was the guy on the far right?" After glancing at his notes to check Pepi's name, a somewhat bemused Trump questioned Carolyn and George Ross about who exactly Pepi was, because he didn't recognize him or remember firing him.

As the tasks began, Sean's team of former standouts appeared to get off to a very good start and work through many of the event's details before meeting with the charity representatives the sponsors and the venue staff. The main point of concern in fact appeared to be Sean, who sometimes appears to think he is appearing on The Bachelor instead of The Apprentice. Excited to have a chance to resume his open infatuation for Tammy, Sean appeared to put his fixation with her ahead of his task responsibilities. Not only did her presence appear to occasionally taint his judgment, but it also appeared to distract the rest of his team as well.

Meanwhile, things appeared to be going much less smoothly over on Lee’s Gold Rush team. In general, Lee appeared to be somewhat overwhelmed at the scope of the task. Not only did the game's Pontiac sponsors appear unimpressed with Gold Rush's fundraising ideas, but the team also participated in an apparent disastrous meeting with the executive director of The Leary Firefighters Foundation. The meeting appeared to go very badly, with neither Lee nor anyone on his team appearing to understand the charity's fundraising or the event's target audience. Afterward, Lee attempted to spin the meeting as a learning experience and an opportunity to "turn it around" by executing a well-organized event.

As predictably happens at the end of every The Apprentice finale's Part One broadcast, things appeared to take a turn for the worse for both teams as the episode ended. Over at Gold Rush, The Leary Firefighters Foundation executive director openly confronted and criticized Lee about what Carolyn described as his laid back approach, poor leadership, and an apparent belief that the event will run itself. Meanwhile, Synergy's rather smooth running operation suddenly took a major loss when Andrea, who was responsible for a large part of the event planning, came in and announced that she had started coughing up blood and reluctantly had to go see a doctor immediately. Andrea's sudden sickness appeared to unnerve both Andrea and the rest of her team, none of whom appeared to know exactly how to deal with the development.

On next week's special 90-minute live finale the outcomes of the events will be shown, and Sean's apparent victory The Apprentice's fifth season winner will be announced.

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