'T-Boz' and Khloe Kardashian both fired from 'The Celebrity Apprentice'
By John Bracchitta, 04/06/2009
TLC music group member Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Keeping up with the Kardashians' star Khloe Kardashian became the sixth and seventh contestants to be fired by Donald Trump during last night's broadcast of The Celebrity Apprentice's second season on NBC.
"I was surprised when he fired me because it wasn't like I was in the boardroom to get fired," Watkins said following her elimination. "I don't mind taking chances, I don't mind standing up for something I believe in. I've lived my whole career on the edge, and I think that speaks for within itself."
"Well I don't think Mr. Trump made the right decision. I've learned my lesson, I've been paying for it every single day," Kardashian said following her elimination. "I'm trying to fix something I did wrong, and it just sucks that I had to go out this way because I don't want people to remember me like that, but it is what it is."
The Celebrity Apprentice's sixth second-season episode began immediately following the previous episodes's boardroom-session-turned-impromptu-intervention in which Dennis Rodman was fired by The Donald. While all of the contestants expressed worry and hope for Rodman that he would get the help he needed to help control his drinking, retired NFL football player Herschel Walker also hoped that ridding themselves of Rodman's distractions would help Kings Of The Universe (KOTU) men work together better as a team.
"This was a bittersweet loss because of the situation with Dennis," Walker said. Maybe now since we don't have that sort of anchor around our neck, maybe KOTU can start running."
The following day, the contestants met with Trump to learn their next task. Before introducing the task, Trump informed everyone that he had spoken with Rodman and that he was getting the help he needed to treat his alcohol problem.
Trump also revealed that he had decided to mix up KOTU and Athena a little. After making his switches, the new KOTU consisted of Walker, Kardashian, country singer Clint Black, comedienne Joan Rivers, and LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis. The new Athena was made up of Watkins, former Monster Garage star Jesse James, former I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here! contestant and TV personality Melissa Rivers, professional poker player Annie Duke, and actress/model Brande Roderick.
Singer Brian McNight, Trump added, was away for a concert and would be placed onto a team upon his return the following round.
The Donald then revealed the contestants' new task. Flanked by two executives from All laundry detergent, the teams learned they would each have to make a "viral video" for the Internet lasting no longer than 60 seconds that advertised their "All Small and Mighty 3x Concentrated" product. The videos would be judges by Trump, the All executives, and blogging diva Perez Hilton based on their originality, buzz-worthiness, and branding ability.
Both teams then separated to choose their project manager, who would receive $20,000 for their charity if their team won, for the task. Athena chose Melissa, who cited her previous television experience as a reason for wanting more responsibility for the task.
"I stepped up as project manager because I have 15 years of experience in production, live and taped shows," she said. For me to have to create a video, I have a lot of knowledge and a lot of tools."
KOTU selected Clint, who also drew on his previous experiences for the reason he was chosen.
"I have a fair amount of experience. I've directed 12 or 15 music videos and I've written two full screenplays, [neither] of them sold," he said with a smile.
Both teams then left to begin formulating ideas for their videos.
Dukes quickly suggested what would end up being the idea used by Athena for their video: having James being bathed by a group of little people, which both teams had determined were one of the top video search terms on the Internet. While most of the team felt the idea was funny and liked it immediately, James had to be coaxed into the idea after initially suggesting that they have a motorcycle-themed video instead.
KOTU had a rougher time uniting on an idea. While Joan repeatedly stressed that a "viral video" needed to play to basic levels of humor and seem off-the-cuff, Black instead pushed ahead an idea of his own based off of a dirty joke involving using the term "doing the laundry" as a code word between a couple for having sex. Although the group agreed that the idea was funny, Joan felt that the video would seem too scripted, while Kardashian and Gublis worried that the joke may be lost on the video's target audience of 25-year-old women with children.
Despite a last second suggestion of a second video idea that would feature Kardashian and Gulbis mud wrestling, Black said he didn't want to be counterproductive by going back with another idea and instead pushed ahead with his vision.
"He heard nothing," Joan said of Black's inability to take in other ideas. "[With] Clint there's no listening."
Black further angered his team when he ignored them and took the director of photography aside by himself to plan the shoot. Additionally, after no one was satisfied with the little person actor brought in to portray the husband in the video, Black sent him home without finding a replacement and ended up playing the part himself, despite the fact that much of the original joke hinged on the character being a little person.
"This project has been going downhill since right after executive meeting," Kardashian said. "It just kind of crumbled."
"I'm very disappointed in Clint. I thought he would be smart and clever, a collaborative artist," added Joan. "All I can do is shake my head."
Additionally, Clint decided to edit the video alone, locking the door so his teammates could not get in the room with him. The only piece of advice he heeded from his teammates was a suggestion by Walker to use Pop Up Video-like captions saying what the characters were thinking to add more humor to the video.
Meanwhile, Athena's shoot went much smoother, with Donald Trump Jr. noting that James' laid back demeanor was a much "better fit" with the women at Athena than the men at KOTU. After arriving at a laundromat and finding three little people actors, the team was able to film the video with relatively few problems.
Following the video's completion, Trump and the detergent company executives viewed the videos and looked to Hilton for criticism on each of them.
Hilton said he was "very disappointed" by KOTU's video and did not think that it was felt through well enough.
"I think that they were kind of short-sighted with making a video that they thought was buzz-worthy," he said. "I think they were going for humor, but I didn't find it very funny at all."
Meanwhile, he was more pleased with Athena's contribution, saying it was "excellent" and that he had laughed through the entire video, but wondered if it would be a hit with its target audience.
"I found the video that this group made very appealing," he said. "However, I'm a gay man... but I also think the video appeals to a younger demographic [and] straight men."
"[But] I don't think either of those videos appeal to women with children," he added.
The All executives added that they did not like the use of the term "midget" in Athena's video, as well as the cursing in it. The executives liked KOTU's relaxing nature, as well as the use of the thought bubbles to tell the story, but worried that the video's risque theme would alienate consumers.
Both teams then met in the boardroom with Trump, Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump to learn their fates for the task.
Black felt that his team had done "okay under the circumstances," but quickly followed it up by describing it as "not great."
Joan was slightly less diplomatic when asked how she felt the video had gone.
"I am shamed to be of any part of it... because it didn't do what we were supposed to do," she said. "I thought it was dirty, I thought it was stupid. I don't think it handled the product in any way. It told you that a woman washes her clothes and meanwhile he husband goes and says 'I don't need you now that I've masturbated.' I'm sorry, I found it very offensive."
Ivanka added that Joan had been very vocal in her dislike throughout the task and that she was not bringing it up for the first time in boardroom.
Black responded that all of Joan's ideas were "incomplete," while Joan argued that she was just brainstorming and Black just used his idea. She added that she had "liked" Black but now wished that she "never see him again."
Gulbis added that she had wanted to restart thinking the idea after learning of the video's targeted demographic, while Walker said he thought the idea was "silly" and he wouldn't send it to anyone.
Trump added that, based on a comment from Melissa, Black may have been well served to listen to Joan's comedy ideas, given that she's an icon in the comedy world.
The Donald then turned his attention to Melissa and Athena. Melissa said that she was pleased with how her video had turned out.
"It was funny and it was silly to the point where you just can't really believe what you're watching, but it never offends the product," Melissa said.
After watching both videos, Ivanka noted that Gulbis had been laughing hysterically at Athena's video, something she added was "not good for your team."
Trump added that Hilton had preferred Athena's video, while Trump and the women said that James was indeed a draw to women, the video's demographic. However, he also added that the cursing at the end of the video, as well as the use of "midget" in the beginning of the video, could offend some viewers. Melissa countered that they had used the cursing to separate it from being a normal commercial, while they used the term "midget" because it was a highly searched word on the Internet.
Trump then revealed that, despite Hilton's preference of Athena's video, that All's executives had "hated" both videos.
"There's no winner here tonight," he added, before ordering Melissa and Black to each pick two people to remain in the boardroom with them from their respective teams and that two people would be fired.
Melissa chose Roderick and Watkins -- whom she said had previously volunteered to stand by her in boardroom if necessary -- to remain in the boardroom with her. Black chose Kardashian and Gulbis and the six contestants were then sent to wait in the reception area as Trump discussed the situation with his adult children.
Before reentering the boardroom, Black reassured both girls that he would take the fall if necessary and not get one of them eliminated instead.
Once back in boardroom, Melissa said the could not fault anyone on her team and that she felt she would be going home if the team had failed and simply needed two volunteers to be with her in boardroom. Both Watkins and Roderick said that Melissa was a great project manager and had taken charge of the challenge with little argument. Trump added that his decision was made more difficult because while the project manager would usually be the one fired that no one had faulted her leadership skills at all.
However, Trump then turned his attention to Watkins, who had volunteered to come back into the boardroom with Melissa. After noting that volunteering to return to the boardroom was not a smart decision, and referencing second-season The Apprentice contestant Bradford Cohen who had done the same and been fired because of it, Trump maintained his consistant view on the matter.
"Tionne, you volunteered to come back, you're fired," he said to a shocked Watkins, before adding that Melissa would have been fired if not for the mistake.
If the first elimination was not odd enough, Trump then turned to KOTU. However instead of focusing on Black's failures as a project leader, Trump instead said that Black had made a smart move not bringing Joan back into the boardroom because there was "no chance" he could have fired her because she had been right.
However after asking if Black and Gulbis wanted to remain in the competition instead of continuing with their careers, Trump --the same man who famously allowed former Miss USA Tara Conner to keep her crown despite an underage drinking scandal -- surprisingly latched onto Kardashian's 2007 drunk driving arrest, which Trump claimed he had only learned of when Kardashian had missed part of the competition's previous task to attend a DUI class that was part of her probation agreement back in Los Angeles.
After quizzing her on what she had learned from her classes, Trump revealed that he hated people who drive drunk and said he knew three families who had lost children to drunk driving accidents.
"Those families are never the same, they've never been the same," Trump said. "When you told me that [you had to attend a DUI class] I actually lost a little respect for you... If I'd have known that you were missing time away from the task because of your DUI you would have never been on the show. I think it's a terrible thing, and after seeing what happened to Dennis last week, I can't sit here and do nothing."
Trump added that, so as to not harm her charity, that he would donate $20,000 to Kardashian's charity, but that because of her past mistakes she had been fired.
The next episode of The Celebrity Apprentice will air on Sunday, April 12 at 9PM ET/PT on NBC.
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