'The Celebrity Apprentice' star Donald Trump fires Dionne Warwick
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/28/2011
Dionne Warwick became the fourth candidate fired from NBC's fourth season of The Celebrity Apprentice during Sunday night's broadcast of the reality competition's fourth episode.
The Apprentice star Donald Trump fired the singer after her A.S.A.P. women's team lost the season's task assignment for a third-straight time.
The task required A.S.A.P. and Backbone, the men's team, to each create a 30-second commercial showcasing ACN -- a home-based marketing company for individuals -- and their new video phone product. Each team was required to present their commercial in front of 450 ACN representatives, who would then judge the presentations based on their creativity and originality, company brand messaging, and integration of the video phone.
"In firing me, no, I don't think he made the right choice, but I did not flex my muscles as much as I probably could have. I think he was disappointed enough to say, 'Dionne, you're fired!' Sometimes, ladies have a habit of not quite being straight-up, and I just don't like the craziness unless I'm the crazy one," Dionne said following her firing.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes volunteered to serve as the project manager for A.S.A.P. -- which also included model and Playboy Playmate of the Year Hope Dworaczyk; singer La Toya Jackson; talk show host Star Jones; actress Marlee Matlin; and Dionne -- and was ready to take on the challenge of leading her team.
Meanwhile, the men's team Backbone -- which featured actor and former Celebrity Rehab participant Gary Busey; retired MLB baseball player Jose Canseco; original Survivor champion Richard; rapper Lil Jon; rock star Meat Loaf; singer, former Extra! co-host and Don't Forget the Lyrics! host Mark McGrath; and country singer and former Nashville Star and Gone Country judge John Rich -- essentially drafted Lil Jon as their project manager.
"I've done many commercial spots and directed so many videos, so I have a lot of experience in this area. So, I guess I was a good choice to be project manager," Lil Jon said afterwards.
Backbone agreed that Lil Jon was a tremendous leader and project manager, as he came up with the idea of creating a humorous, yet risky, commercial based on a gay couple living abroad to emphasize ACN's slogan of "life without boundaries." Backbone ended up winning the task because their presentation and commercial was created to think outside the box, while it also incorporated ACN's message in a comical way they had not attempted in the company's past.
Meanwhile, although NeNe succeeded as the project manager and her team A.S.A.P. did a great job as well, they lost the task by a very small percentage in a 53-47% percent vote. A.S.A.P.'s commercial was based on a 16-year-old girl abroad communicating with her parents over the video phone and signing to her mother who was deaf. Their commercial pulled at the heart strings and evoked emotion, but it was repetitive of what ACN had already done and it was not original enough to fully impress the company's representatives.
As the winning team's project manager, Lil Jon earned $40,000 for the United Methodist Children's Home.
During the boardroom session, NeNe started crying in hopes her team won before Trump had announced the winner. She felt very passionate about her commercial and wanted the money to go towards her charity, which fights for women of domestic abuse. NeNe, La Toya and Marlee all admitted to have been in past abusive relationships.
However, once Trump revealed the winning team, the mood quickly changed and A.S.A.P. began bickering over who should have been the team member fired. NeNe started to complain about La Toya in that all she could supposedly do was keep time, while La Toya thought she helped out a lot more than that. In addition, LaToya complained she was only assigned to keep time and nothing else, which was the fault of the project manager.
Marlee then chimed in and said La Toya eventually wouldn't be able to carry her own weight and that she hadn't stepped up to the plate yet. However, NeNe said her team could do without Dionne because she had left the task early and not stuck around while her team edited their commercial. The heat was then put on Dionne, as she claimed she asked NeNe if she could leave, but NeNe suggested Dionne had simply told her she was leaving instead.
NeNe told Trump the women were afraid of Dionne as well and that she shouldn't have felt the need to babysit Dionne by telling her she could not leave. Dionne then admitted she herself should have been fired, agreeing with some of the others. She said she didn't want to be that intimidating presence on the team and felt she could only hinder their progress from that point on.
Dionne then changed her train of thought and confirmed to Trump she would like to stay in the competition and move forward with her team, even though she felt it was the consensus of the project manager and Hope for her to leave.
"I'd love to stay because I think I have a lot to offer and I think I'm a very strong player. I am a team player. I left the editing bay because I felt I wasn't needed there," Dionne said after alleging she should have been the next to go because her teammates had presented such an idea.
Star grew angry that yet another member of their team was basically quitting, following the "firing" of the former supermodel and first-season Make Me a Supermodel host Niki Taylor last week. Both women did not put up much of a fight, and Star wanted to see her team be a little more passionate about winning money and competing for their charities.
Despite her sudden plea that she wanted to continue, Trump was not pleased with her lack of spirit and enthusiasm.
"You know Dionne, I'm making the decision. NeNe is not making that decision. It has nothing to do -- I don't give a crap what NeNe says -- I'm making the decision," Trump told Dionne.
"Alright then, I don't want to go. I want to stay right here," Dionne replied.
"But you know, it's honestly too late. It's really too late. You did the wrong thing. Dionne, you're fired," Trump told her.