Celebrity Apprentice: The Ghost of Penn

The Celebrity Apprentice S12E10: "Winning by a Nose"

Dark fog rolls over the stage. Around a deep grave, described minimally by cutting a hole in the stage floor, six figures are gathered. They are AUBREY the dancing girl dressed only in a belt of coins, LISA the hag swaddled in cloaks, her face almost obscured by her hood. ARSENIO the smiling one, two goat horns apparent on his head in the manner of Pan. CLAY, lyre-player with head wreathed in beautiful flowers. DAYANA, the beauty dressed in the manner of Athena, and THERESA the mother, holding a baby upon her hip.

At the head of the grave stands Trump in a swirling robe of pale pink satin, surrounded by attendants: girls holding tall fans, several small boys holding dishes of figs and chalices of wine. His face is covered by a great mask, but sorrow seems to consume his entire figure as he stares into the grave. Trump pauses by the grave as if he would kneel, but stops himself, and instead raises his finger, pointing at each of the mourners in turn, who lower their heads.

Wordlessly, Trump returns to his entourage, four gladiators carrying a litter (one of those enclosed beds balanced on four posts, enclosed by gossamer curtains) lower it so he can enter, and then the company leaves stage right.

The hag Lisa falls to her knees, keening at the grave. Aubrey, with the movements of a snake, approaches her, as if to comfort her, and seems to whisper in her ear, pointing at Dayana, who skirts nervously away from the ensemble. Lisa looks at Dayana with rage, Aubrey continues to gesticulate toward Dayana, Lisa rises, her mass swaddled in layers of wormy cloak, and lumbers towards Dayana, Clay tries to intercede, but Lisa will not be calmed. Horrified, Dayana runs to the grave and throws herself prostrate beside it. Timpani drums beat wildly, and Penn, his hair wild, a white cloak falling from his shoulders, steps up out of the grave.


Laid low in the limousine I was carried

away from the towers of Olympus!

The company is shaking before them, he laughs heartily at their shock and distress.


But what have you to fear? Only if my my passing was unjust

would it give you such pause.

Such stirring which, dare I say

have the look of regret.


That is just it: It was unjust.

You were the greatest of us all.

Penn, how many times have we used

your skills, your wisdom, your good calm sense

and now at the moment where we might have repaid—

instead we threw you to the dogs of Trump’s bloodless war!


How ironic too, that a challenge to define

the essence of success, that you of all should fail

who arguably is the most successful of us all.

Musical laughter. Aubrey steps from the group and moves, undulating her hips like a snake, amongst the crowd.


Speak for yourself, child-woman

I am O’Day, a borderline creative genius

a one-woman team, who again claimed victory

O, the Lords of Walgreen's, the Princes of Macy’s

see how they have have laid their laurels at my feet?

Penn, you have my regards!

(she bows, almost sardonically, then shimmies around the grave, her coins clinking fantastically)

But against me, you are all hopeless

I am mini-Trump, and have already won


Apologies, Penn, for the dancing girl’s manners

she speaks in riddles whose answers are all obscene

In this challenge I felt the heat of her loins

against the back of my neck

I heard the screams of the damned issue from that hellmouth

Aubrey laughs at this and writhes around Arsenio, he looks at her with something like hate and then softens.


And yet, siren, how you do delight

more than my eyes, a borderline genius! Yes—

an imaginative slut, is there any greater prize

even if your cologne display looks like the photo background

that kids would take pictures against for the prom.

Aubrey stiffens, and hisses at Arsenio, sliding from his embrace.


How much better it would have been to see Dayana go

figuratively, although literally I would certainly kill her

and with my thick fingers how easily I could crush her throat-



Dayana, at his side, looks up at him with appreciation.


Aubrey, do you think winning this contest

proves anything but cunning, deceit, and the ability

to shield yourself from blame?

Or that in any way this game means honor?


Crowned with glory is the one who is chosen

the apprentice, the greatest, the true celebrity


And by what criteria chosen?

I could match you Clay, thought for thought

and have thoughts enough left to pave the world

two or three hundred times over

for strength I could best you

as easily as a lion steps upon a dandelion

for courage I could roar you

into a silence as deep as a closet

in which a child sits hushed,

holding its breath with fear.

There are no rules in this game, and how it is won or lost

is whim, is Trump’s pleasure

there are no actual rules for celebrity apprentice

and the best are buried alongside the worse

with equal pomp and measure


What does this fill me with such sorrow to hear?

to know despite all my running in heels

neither my kindness nor my violence can protect me

the dogs of ambition shall chase

the thrashing rabbit of my abilities

until its innards are strewn haphazardly

along the path that ends in weeds, that ends in worms

No, it cannot be!


And yet it is so. “You earned it”

was a false epitaph for success, I see now in this game

as in life, we are struggling toward a meaningless crown

a golden symbol that signifies little but envy

and it is not who at last wrests the meaningless prize

but how we have appeared in playing the game

who we have helped, and who we have chastened

on this threshing floor, the diamonds fall first, not the chaff.

He reaches for Dayana’s hand, she rises. They stand he in the grave, she upon its edge.


And if they should take you next

at week’s end, if you should lower into the abyss

of that elevator, sad-eyed receptionist whispering goodbye

will you know that you go down there

the victor of them all?

that your patience, your tolerance, your respect

they crown you with a victory

that gold will never know?

Dayana, weeping, kisses Penn’s hand.


May all the Gods

rain blessings on you, Penn.


I am only a simple trickster, an illusionist.

Dayana shakes her head but smiles with understanding.


And I a vacant beauty queen, yes?

Penn turns and addresses the audience.


No rule book shall guide you

and your worst missteps may grant you the best prizes

your weakest moments may gain the strongest applause

and yet I implore you

remember the emblem of success—

the one who is kind where there is no kindness

the one who would never weigh gold

against respect.


– Is Dayana going to get voted out next week or what?

– Was Penn just too good for this show all along?

– What is going on with Aubrey and Arsenio? It's clear she pretty much hates him but isn’t he kind of doing this like, “I hate her but I want her to be into me” thing?

– Were both cologne presentations completely stupid or what?

– What’s your definition of success?

Comments (15)
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Apr 26, 2012
what's wrong with you people at TV.com? have you ever mingled with us mere mortals? DONT give away what happened in a sports or competition show in the HEADLINE...some of us have these programs DVRed. Because of this kind of thoughtlessness, I can never go to Huffington Post during the playoffs of any sport because they want to look cool by making it their top headline on every page....have some respect for us pee-ons, please
Apr 28, 2012
My bad, should remember some people are catching up on episodes & don't know who's being fired yet. Thanks for the reminder!
Apr 24, 2012
To base an opinion of how someone is off a reality show, to me, is absurd. they take hours of video footage and dice it down to make it look a certain way to tell a story. A lot of these people, like Penn Jillette are extremely successful business and entertainment personalities. For Trump to fire Penn over a slogan when A) it was approved by the man in charge Clay Aiken and B)Dayna just literally does nothing from what I've seen of the show.

Why is she there? Oh because she is Miss Universe and according to what I've heard Trump fought NBC to get her on. He owns the Miss Universe contest and an ego the size of the Don's isn't going to let him fire someone that was called in 6 times this season.

What am I trying to say? Celeb Apprentice is just about entertainment. If it was about reality guys like Penn and Carolla would still be there while Dayna would have been gone weeks ago.
Apr 27, 2012
It's true that reality shows dishonestly manipulate their footage, but they can't alter somebody's total personality. For instance, they can't present Lisa as wildly emotional unless she really shouts and cries, or Aubrey as a narcissist unless she really says things like "I usually impress myself."
Apr 24, 2012
Dayana - Those Miss Universes always stick around too long since Trump owns the pageant.

Penn - is too good for the show, but he's always fun to have around.

Aubrey/Arsenio - Arsenio is into anyone remembering who he is.

The execs were right - combining the right parts from both (picture of Dayana from one + test strips and pamplet from the other) would have been killer

Success - not falling so much that you do Celebrity Apprentice
Apr 24, 2012
Aubrey has big boobs and is a complete B*tch. Wonder if she is the one in Apt 23?
Apr 24, 2012
Again with the greek tragedy? It's getting old, Lily. Last week was a legit review and I got hope that it'd continue forward, but nope. Back to this. Thanks. But not really.
Apr 24, 2012
I agree. I appreciate the work it must have taken (and if she did those illustrations, kudos, because, wow), but it's not my cup of tea, either.
Apr 24, 2012
Bravo! Do you do the paintings too?

Is Dayana going to get voted out next week or what?

Wouldn't it be a kick if the answer is no? Dayana FTW.

Was Penn just too good for this show all along?

Too good in what sense? Too smart? too ethical? too decent? I ascribe to the idea I've read elsewhere that he probably was fired, because the hoped for drama between he and Clay never materialized.

What is going on with Aubrey and Arsenio? It's clear she pretty much hates him but isn't he kind of doing this like, "I hate her but I want her to be into me" thing?

I think Arsenio is just playing the game as best he can and he's playing it a lot better than it seems on the surface.

Were both cologne presentations completely stupid or what?

Both teams seemed to not have given the presentations much thought, but Clay seemed to think he could wing it and he couldn't.

What's your definition of success?

I actually had to think about it. TCA provoking serious thought. I don't like it.
Apr 28, 2012
I DID do the paintings. I am a weirdo for this show, it makes me a little crazy.
Apr 24, 2012
1) Either Dayana or Teresa goes next week, and for the same reason Penn went this week: the other contestants left are more fun to watch.

2) You're kidding, right? The man is an overbearing ass, and every bit the manipulative narcissist that Aubrey is. Look at his 'confessionals' wherein he praises himself to the skies, and his 'pitches' wherein he refuses to let anyone else get a word in edgewise. He either does all of the talking, or refuses to do any, sulking like a 300 pound toddler. I doubt it's a coincidence that everybody he chooses to work long term with, like Teller and Blue Man Group, has a mute stage persona. They really don't have a choice.

I honestly cannot understand why there are people almost as in awe of this guy's intellect as he is. He's obviously nowhere near as smart as he's constantly declaring himself to be. Sure, he has more to back up his claims than Lisa or Aubrey, but that's hardly a high hurdle to clear. I'm not saying he deserved to go this week. Nobody on Forte did. I'm just saying I can't imagine anybody missing him, on either side of the TV screen, for any reason.

3) No, he just hates her. Really, really hates her. But he's also trying to jolly her along so she won't be totally useless to the group, and that requires him to tolerate her scuzzy, slutty version of flirtation.

4) How could they be otherwise, when the cologne itself is so completely stupid? If anyone out there wants to smell more like Donald Trump, all they need to do is marinate themselves in a mixture of self-tanner and trophy-wife tears.

5) Not needing to agree to appear on Celebrity Apprentice.
Apr 24, 2012
started to read i then thought wot da fuq is this....

(spelling errors are on purpose)
Apr 24, 2012
And now there's watercolors! FTW!

Am I the only one who thought that the winning display looked like something out of a middle school shop class? I think after seeing that crap win, everyone on Clay's team basically threw up their hands and admitted that winning a task has nothing to do with the quality of the team's product.

I loved seeing George again! He was the only one all season who's actually cut through the bullsh*t and said what we all felt was really going on. More George, please!
Apr 24, 2012
Love. This.
Apr 28, 2012
Thank you! This show, I swear, its mind bending and I think my mind is now broken.