The Celebrity Apprentice is as respectable as reality programming gets. Its winnings go to charity, the challenges do not involve falling off a pummel horse into a lake (looking at you, Wipeout), and last night's premiere began with Donald Trump walking onto the stage of Lincoln Center as a full orchestra played the show's theme music. (Trés classé!)
You can have no idea who any of the celebrities are and still enjoy the challenges. And if you DO care about the celebrities, you can learn more about them in five minutes of watching this show than you could by reading a shopping cart full of biographies. Like, Clay Aiken can up-sell the sh-t out of you, and you'll love it. Seriously, the guy has some hustle!
Still on the fence? Well, that's a nice way to tear your taint area. So instead of explaining all that to the emergency room nurses, here are eleven more reasons to watch, based on last night's premiere, to get you on board by next episode:
11. Aubrey O'Day's Hair
It's not often that someone challenges Trump to a Silly Hair Contest, but Aubrey O'Day's high-puffed, shellacked blow-back was like a velveteen glove-slap in The Donald's face. What is this Clown Princess going to come up with next in the Stupidest Hair War of 2012? Dare I hope for the full sails of a model tall ship abreast her head, rigged entirely with scarlet cornrows?
10. Victoria Gotti's 'Tude
This mob princess combines the elfin What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? looks of LaToya Jackson from last season with the I-don't-give-a-crapitude of Dionne Warwick. She spent most of the women's planning session shooting down ideas and brokering a car deal for her son; then, she was an hour late on game day due to a "torn cornea." Watch Episode 2 if only to see her next excuse for sleeping in. (Heart flipped outside body?)
9. Adam Carolla's Insightfulness
It might be the decades of picking the brains of abused teenagers and sorting out their lives, but the Ace Man is remarkably insightful about the celebrities around him. He summed up Patricia Valesquez beautifully as "the most sincere person on the planet" and after Paul Teutul said he would vote off Arsenio and George Takei, describing Takei as "meek" (as Takei pointed out, he's fought for gay rights and grew up in internment camps; meek he is not), Adam cheerfully eased the considerable tension by interjecting "[Trump] told Paul to pick two guys, and he picked three minority groups to kick off the show. Nice going, Paul!"
8. They've Got the Formula Down
Twelve seasons in, the show knows exactly how to frazzle and conflate its contestants like never before. Donny Trump skillfully sews the seeds of drama by insisting team captains point out who they would vote off before announcing who's won. The producers have also put a fine point on how to win a challenge: Make sure you have rich, influential friends. This show is a crucible in which the B.S. is burned away and the dollar value of a celebrity's career is assessed with pinpoint accuracy.
7. What Is Penn Jillette Doing Here?
The mystery of why Vegas sensation and myth-busting satirist Penn Jillette is taking the time to grace this show with his presence is one I only hope to solve by the end of the season.
6. Interesting Charities
Charities are for rich people (my bank account is the charity I'm fighting for) but Patricia Velasquez's foundation is amazing! She saw extreme poverty firsthand growing up in an indigenous community in Venezuela and now she wants to give back to the kids she describes as sleeping barefoot beneath the jungle trees (such vivid imagery! I imagine a lot of secondhand D.A.R.E. shirts and the far-off purr of the jaguars). Her foundation is dedicated to getting indigenous kids schools, food, and one day Wi-Fi and that's just a great cause. You can check out more at the organization's website: wayuutaya.org. I could easily be convinced to get on a plane to lend my efforts, and I thought I was just tuning in to laugh at rich people. Now I not only care, I'm definitely going to buy one of the rad bags from the site's online store.
5. Clay Aiken's Hair
Contestant #2 in the Silly Hair Contest! Clay Aiken's featherburst of ginger bangs resounds over the screen like the trumpet call before the army lets loose the dogs of war. Will we get to see it damp?
4. Darwinian Business In Full View
Cheryl Tiegs was the first contestant to be eliminated, and you know what? She deserved it, and everybody including her kind of knew it. It's the same kind of situation that makes Survivor so interesting. There's something about how objectively people view each other when a clear goal is on the horizon and how ruthlessly they trim the fat that's fascinating to students of business and human behavior alike.
3. Tia Carrere's Eerie Youthfulness
Did she just walk off the set of Wayne's World? She hasn't aged a DAY. Girl what do you DO?
2. Ivanka Owning her Brother
The Trump family dynamic in the boardroom is one of the show's more interesting features. Ivanka is clearly her dad's favorite, maybe because she's laser-focus smart and she makes Donald's features look stunning on her face. Her half-brother's anxious asides, jabs, and references to family discord are kind of hilarious when they peek through. It's like the Lannisters dressed up in Brooks Brothers and Stella McCartney.
1. George Takei's Voice
Out of the many reasons The Celebrity Apprentice will absolutely delight you, the foremost is George Takei's sonorous, iconic voice, which makes anything he says instantly quotable. Whether he's applauding a teammate's physique or worrying about the amount of sandwiches they've made, The Celebrity Apprentice can be enjoyed with your eyes closed thanks to everyone's favorite Star Trek icon.
– What are your reasons for watching (or not watching) The Celebrity Apprentice?
– Who do you think will win the game?
– Is Donald Trump considering Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza for Wife #6?
– How much would you pay for a sandwich Dee Snider had made?