Nadia Comaneci the second 'Celebrity Apprentice' candidate fired
By Christopher Rocchio, 01/11/2008
Donald Trump was a big fan of gymnast Nadia Comaneci when she won a combined five Olympic gold medals.
But that was more than 25 years ago and her success in the gym didn't translate to the boardroom, causing Nadia to become the second candidate fired by The Donald during last night's The Celebrity Apprentice broadcast on NBC.
"I don't think I should have been fired because I could have been a good asset to the team," said Nadia following her ouster. "I'm disappointed, but I know that everything that's going to be won here is going to go to some other charity."
The Celebrity Apprentice's second episode began with The Apprentice first-season contestant and reality show retread Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth and supermodel Carol Alt returning from the previous boardroom session, which saw 2005 Playboy Playmate of the Year Tiffany Fallon become the first candidate fired.
Prior to rejoining the all-female Team Empresario and all-male Team Hydra, Omarosa and Carol decided to "leave it in the boardroom" -- a sentiment Omarosa decided to share with the others. America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan found it funny and referred to Omarosa as a "gobby, self-confident creature," and she replied by calling him an "alcoholic" as he sipped wine.
The two teams then gathered at Trump Towers, where they were met by The Donald, Macy's, Inc. CEO Terry Lundgren and Pedigree Director of Marketing Rob Leibowitz.
The Donald explained February is Pet Adoption Month, so for their next challenge, each team would be creating a 30-second television ad for the Pedigree Adoption Drive. They would be judged by Terry based on message, originality and creativity. The winning team would receive $20,000 for their project manager's designated charity. Empresario chose The Swan creator and producer Nely Galan as their project manager, and Hydra picked former KISS frontman and Gene Simmons Family Jewels star Gene Simmons.
"My greatest strength as a project manager is I see the big picture," gushed Gene about himself. "I'm ruthless. I'll fire anybody. I'll fire Donald Trump."
With only 12 hours to work on their ad, the two teams immediately got busy, which for Nely meantt holding hands and doing some breathing exercises. Not surprisingly, Omarosa commented she's "not really into that existential bulls**t." Empresario then met with Rob, which Nely thought was a "really great idea," to discuss what Pedigree was looking for in the spot.
Meanwhile, Gene made an "executive decision" as Hydra's project manager to not meet with Rob and instead go immediately into the studio because he didn't want to "waste time." Piers and actor Stephen Baldwin decided to slow Gene down and try to come up with a concept before they moved forward.
Gene, Stephen, Piers and fellow Hydra members country artist Trace Adkins; professional boxer Lennox Lewis; mixed martial arts fighter Tito Ortiz; and former The Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore, all argued over ideas. Stephen suggested they have the tough Lennox holding and playing with a cute pup, and Hydra agreed it was a good idea. Gene would serve as producer and made Stephen -- the last task's project manager -- the video's director.
"This isn't rocket science," said Gene.
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Ivanka Trump then arrived as Hydra was working and Piers explained their commercial's concept before being cut-off by Gene.
"We're using a lot of time. We think it's terrific you're here," said Gene to Ivanka, "but we've got work to do."
Ivanka thought it "wasn't smart" Gene wanted to make her wait, and he only dug himself deeper.
"Being the female of the species yourself, does that mean you're going to be talking to your sisters about what we talked about?" inquired Gene.
"To the women because I'm a woman?" replied Ivanka. "No. I have no interest in doing that."
Ivanka left and Hydra got to work.
"I think that was probably not a strategically intelligent thing to do, as I found it rather rude," she said.
Gene and Stephen took total control over Hydra's ad, and decided to move from filming in the studio down to the busy streets of New York City, which required Gene and Vincent to hold back the mobs of people gathering on the sidewalk. Gene began to get nervous and moved production back inside because it was a setting he could control. Stephen disagreed with that decision, and thought it might "bite him on his backside" later.
As Empresario bantered about ideas, Omarosa decided to stay out of it as part of her strategy. The group eventually decided to take a "very emotional approach to storytelling," which included three separate storylines and an appearance by actress Marilu Henner delivering the message at the end. While Nely was confident her ad was coming together -- she had a problem with Nadia, whom she basically placed at the bottom of the production totem pole.
"Whatever I would tell her to do she did," explained Nely, with tasks including fetching food and finding music. "She didn't execute any of the things I told her to do very well."
Marilu assisted in hiring the actors for Empresario's ad, but didn't think very highly of their thespian qualities. She couldn't do much about it since they were squeezed for time.
Back in Hydra's studio, Stephen decided to tap Trace as "the voice" for their commercial. Gene applauded the decision, and compared it to "the voice of God." Once it was time to edit their ad, Stephen and Gene decided to send the rest of the team home while they put it together. Piers was immediately "wary" of the decision.
"If things don't go brilliantly, they can turn around and say, 'Well, we were deserted by the other five,'" worried Piers.
With just over two hours left before the ads had to be finished, Empresario was in the editing stage and Nadia criticized Nely's close shots of all the dogs. Empresario also wasn't thrilled with the way Marilu's cameo at the end turned out, with Nely commenting the tones were too different and characterizing the quick shift as "jarring." They decided to switch to having Marilu do a voiceover at the last minute.
With an hour left, Tito was starting to get a "little worried" about Gene and Stephen working without the rest of Hydra and took the rest of the team to find out what was going on. Gene and Stephen seemed surprised when the group arrived in the editing suite, and immediately kicked them out. Tito said he felt like he was being "left in the dark" and wanted to make sure he was protecting his brand.
"I don't trust Gene. I don't trust Stephen," he said. "I had enough."
The two teams then met with Trump, Terry and Rob to present their ads. Empresario called their ad "My True Dog Story" and -- after Nely peppered Rob with proposals for a website and radio spot -- aired their commercial. The Donald thought they did a "really good job" and Nely was confident.
Rob was immediately concerned when Hydra entered the room since they never asked him for direction. Gene became very defensive and said he stood by their product and the ad aired. Tito was "surprised" at how well it came out and "felt a lot better" because Gene and Stephen "did their job."
Rob thought both videos were done "really well," but commented "one was fantastic." In addition to the $20,000 charity donation, he said the winning ad would appear during the early 2008 broadcast of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Awaiting the final decision, Empresario discussed their ad and Nadia pointed out what she felt was its largest shortcoming.
"If we miss this, it's because we didn't put six celebrities in a 30-second spot," she warned.
The two teams then gathered for The Celebrity Apprentice's second boardroom, where Trump was flanked by Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Terry. Trump revealed Rob felt "somewhat slighted" that Hydra didn't talk about what Pedigree was looking for. Ivanka added Rob thought Gene was "a little bit abrasive," and she agreed, reiterating she didn't like being told to wait and also being insulted about the "sisterhood bond."
"Gene did you insult my daughter?" asked Trump, which brought a laugh from everyone in the boardroom. "Nobody insults my daughter!"
"I sincerely apologize for any shortsightedness I may have had," said Gene.
Trump then aired both ads again so the teams could see what each other did. Gene thought Empresario's was "absolutely not" better than Hydra's spot. Nely thought Hydra's ad was "very good, very professional" but added Empresario's was better. Omarosa seemed to disagree, giggling like a little girl as she watched Lennox play with the dog.
"It's because I think you're hot," said Omarosa to a married Lennox.
Trump wondered why Empresario didn't use Marilu's recognizable face, and Terry agreed, while Nely tried to defend her decision to instead use a voiceover. Trump pointed out nobody really knows Marilu's voice.
"The executives for Pedigree felt both teams really worked hard, but they really loved the ad from one team. And the ad they loved is Hydra," revealed Trump. "They thought it was terrific. Pedigree felt that Hydra did the better ad."
"I disagree with them," said Nely.
"Nely, you know what, it doesn't matter," replied The Donald. "I have to say, it wasn't my decision, but I agree with it. I thought they really did a great job."
He added using Trace's voice was "genius" before sending Hydra to the War Room, where they'd be able to watch the rest of the boardroom session play out until Trump made his decision.
Nely guaranteed Trump that Empresario worked harder than Hydra, and Trump responded by saying their were too many dogs in the ad and agreed with Terry that he didn't recognize Marilu's voice. Trump also criticized the voiceovers performed by the actors and wondered who was in charge. Marilu took the blame.
"That's not good," said Trump, adding he thought Empresario went "overboard" with their website and radio spot mentions. "They didn't ask for that."
"I think Marilu and I really worked on the creative," said Nely. "I think we did a really good job -- obviously it didn't work -- I have to take full responsibility."
Trump asked Olympic softball player Jennie Finch -- who was in charge of research, the client and caring for the talent -- who she would fire. Jennie thought about it and answered "maybe Nadia or Carol," adding Nadia was under-utilized. Carol said she'd fire Nadia "because the people weren't fed when we got to the location," which presumably had no bearing on the commercial. Still, Nadia disagreed and said she ordered the food when they got there.
Trump was surprised Marilu wasn't singled out, and Nely decided Nadia and Carol would flank her for the final boardroom session, with Trump ultimately firing one of the three before the night was over.
"I think its interesting. I think Carol shouldn't be here," said Ivanka. "I can't decide between Nely or Nadia."
Terry agreed about the confusion over Carol and wondered where Nadia's "competitive spirit" was.
Nely, Nadia and Carol then returned to the boardroom, and Trump asked Nely if she was "embarrassed" since the commercial production task was "her thing." She said it went south because she was "too ambitious" and reiterated she took "full responsibility." Trump also wondered why Carol was there.
"I had to bring two people back," said Nely, which wasn't a very good reason.
"Well Marilu should have been back with you, not Carol," answered Trump. "In all fairness, Carol, you're not going to be fired unless something really crazy happens. She shouldn't be here."
Nadia said she felt Empresario "went in the wrong" direction and added she "mentioned it many times," eventually blaming Nely. Carol said she didn't think Nadia could lead a team because she didn't have a "contingency plan."
"Nadia, do you think really you could be a project manager?" asked Trump. "It's unbelievable to me because I watched you win the Olympics, so obviously you're highly competitive."
Nadia said she didn't know what she was supposed to do during the task and stepped back. Ivanka said Nadia should have spoken up.
"I always said we should use the celebrity from the beginning, and nobody listened," said Nadia.
Nely explained their last-minute decision to replace Marilu's cameo with a voiceover, and Trump once again wondered why Marilu wasn't there since she was the "director of a failed video." Nadia stuck to her guns that Empresario lost because they chose not to use celebrity. Nely then revealed Nadia didn't mention that point until AFTER the ad was already filmed.
"Did you say it before you shot?" asked Trump.
"No, after we shot," answered Nadia.
"Well that doesn't do any good," replied Trump. "What good does it do after you shoot? It's over!"
Nadia said she would like the opportunity to be project manager, but would rather take the lead in an athletic task. Trump said that doesn't really cut it in the boardroom and Nadia struggled to defend herself.
"This is no longer a gymnasium, this is now a boardroom," said Trump. "I think Nely has tremendous ability -- she was like the star of the team -- they just think she was great. I think she had a very, very bad day. As far as Nadia's concerned I think you're an amazing leader of yourself, and I think that's the ultimate tribute. I don't see you being able to lead the team. I think you are extraordinary, I am a huge fan of yours, I watched you win the Olympics, I watched you win so many contests, I love you... But Nadia, you're fired."
Once Nely, Nadia and Carol left the boardroom, Trump said it was a "tough" decision.
"That was as tough as it gets," agreed Ivanka. "But you made the right decision."
The Celebrity Apprentice's next episode will air Thursday, January 17 at 9PM ET/PT on NBC.