'The Celebrity Apprentice' star Donald Trump fires Mark McGrath
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/11/2011
Mark McGrath became the sixth candidate fired from NBC's fourth season of The Celebrity Apprentice during Sunday night's broadcast of the reality competition's sixth episode.
The Apprentice star Donald Trump fired the singer, former Extra! co-host and Don't Forget the Lyrics! host after his Backbone men's team lost the season's task assignment for the second-straight time.
The task required Backbone and A.S.A.P., the women's team, to each create a 10-foot square glass box display for Australian Gold's sun care industry and products. The teams attempted to feature an environment which would embody the brand's personality and communicate its message "live the gold life."
A.S.A.P. and Backbone were judged on the criteria of creativity and originality, brand messaging, and how well they could continue marketing their theme in the area outside of their glass boxes.
"It was all my concept and I couldn't send [rapper Lil Jon] home. I couldn't send [country singer and former Nashville Star and Gone Country judge John Rich] or [rock star Meat Loaf] home. They were invaluable in the task to me personally, and [actor and former Celebrity Rehab participant Gary Busey] was the only logical choice to bring back," Mark said following his ouster.
"If they truly didn't like our experience because of the concept of pirates, I came up with it. Who else can I point the finger at? I'm not some kind of martyr. I'm not some kind of hero taking the blame. I wanted to win The Celebrity Apprentice. I was here for my charity, but all the fingers are pointing at me. I came up with the pirate idea. I guess that I was the one that had to go, unfortunately."
Singer LaToya Jackson volunteered to serve as the project manager for A.S.A.P. -- which also included actress Marlee Matlin, model and Playboy Playmate of the Year Hope Dworaczyk, talk show host Star Jones, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes -- and was hoping she could step up and prove herself to be a contributing and capable member of her team in response to criticism and doubts the other women had expressed in previous weeks about her potential in the competition.
Meanwhile, the men's team Backbone essentially opted to have Mark as their project manager. Mark felt it was his time to take on a leadership role in the group and showcase his strengths.
Backbone agreed that Mark was an excellent leader and project manager, as he came up with the idea of building a "shipwreck salvation" in the glass box, which featured women spray painted in gold, buried gold treasure, and pirate ladies and gentlemen surrounding the scene.
A.S.A.P. had a different opinion on their project leader. The women believed LaToya was not in control, as she lacked organization and had trouble making big decisions. LaToya came upon the idea of creating a summer and winter theme simultaneously within the box to promote the "live the gold life" theme. She had a volleyball scene and featured people having fun in the sun, while snow was also incorporated into the display to show how the products could be useful year round.
Although the majority of A.S.A.P. said they would be surprised if their glass box display had won based on LaToya's inconsistent concept and her supposedly failing to lead her team, they ended up winning the task because they hit the "good life" message head on, involved multiple themes, and utilized Australian Gold's koala bear mascot.
However, the men also did a good job and were more successful at achieving certain aspects of the display than A.S.A.P. For example, they had more interactivity with the public. They had a good jingle and promoted buzz around the box, but the men lost overall because they did not utilize the "live the gold life" message or Australian Gold's koala bear mascot.
But Gary also pitched himself as a potential representative of brand when the executives visited -- an offer they found inappropriate -- and the company simply disliked the mens' pirates concept.
As the winning project manager, LaToya earned $40,000 for the AIDS Project Los Angeles.
During the boardroom session, Backbone believed they had won the task and Mark stated that if the sole reason his team was to lose the task was due to the poor choice of concept -- which was his own idea and decision -- then he would take full responsibility for Backbone's failure.
However, once Trump revealed the winning team, Mark's teammates were quick to back him up and throw Gary under the bus instead.
Mark stuck with his conclusion that his whole team had worked very hard and he didn't want to pinpoint anyone for doing anything poorly. He felt everyone was great in the task and deserved to stay, while it was his fault for coming up with the pirates theme.
Meat Loaf then came to Mark's defense because he said he thought Mark was a much stronger competitor and team member than Gary to begin with, despite the fact Mark came up with the pirate idea. He noted that Gary was wrong for pitching himself to Australian Gold executives and thought Mark should have been the one to speak on behalf of Backbone. Lil Jon agreed with Meat Loaf, and Backbone turned against Gary and labeled him "the most expendable player moving forward."
John had his doubts about Gary as well. He told Trump that Gary was always focused in boardroom but outside of the boardroom, he was impossible to wrangle, dysfunctional and utterly lacked focus.
While his teammates did their best to convince Trump that Gary should go over Mark, Mark was still set on the idea he should be fired because it was ultimately his plan that did not succeed.
Mark said Gary was an obvious issue and therefore, didn't think to bring up the fact that Gary had behaved badly during the task. Mark had his complaints about Gary but didn't have much ammunition to turn his previous claim around about him having Backbone's failure on his shoulders.
Meat Loaf then said his team did not want to work around Gary, but rather were "forced" to work around him. He also brought up the "fact" that Gary had told the Australian Gold executives the product made him feel "sexual." Meat Loaf said it was an absurd thing to say and claimed the executives probably disliked Backbone right off the bat because they were given such a bad first impression of the team thanks to Gary.
Trump, seemingly confused over who to fire, asked Mark to pick two people to come back into the boardroom with him. Mark could name no other man other than himself and Gary. Once the two re-entered the boardroom, Trump got right down into the heart of the problem.
Gary told Trump he never said the product made him feel very "sexual," but Mark made the point that all of the other men said he did and that it would be crazy to lie about such a thing. Gary suggested the products made him feel good as an individual, but then Mark continued to gang up on Gary.
However, Trump told Mark he originally said one thing but then started doing another, as he began finally fighting for Gary's exit. At the same time, Gary was saying he gave every task 100% percent and had yet to fail.
Despite Mark's sudden plea to send Gary home, Trump did not feel it was enough to save him.
"I do think that Mark was so willing to leave out of respect, and I cut you off, but you were so willing to say as project manager -- especially since you chose the theme of the pirates -- that you should be the one to go, and you admitted that before," Trump told Mark.
"Now all of a sudden, you're fighting Gary and you're saying Gary -- now I don't believe Gary's perfect -- believe me, he's not. He's a long way, and he's probably the weakest member on your team, but don't you sort of think that you'd have to go back to what you said just a little while ago?"
"I stand by the concept," Mark replied.
"You're project manager and you picked the theme... They didn't like the theme. Mark, you're fired," Trump told him.