“That show is still on?” my husband asked when I told him I was watching The Celebrity Apprentice. And I admit I haven’t kept up with the show since Omarosa faded from the public’s mind. But what caught my eye with the latest installment of the series is the number of celebrities who I was disappointed to see on the show.
Of course, there are plenty there who don’t surprise me at all. I think Sharon Osbourne is a tough, smart lady—but in the past few years her career has been “reality TV star” as opposed to manager or anything else. Same thing with Bret Michaels: I can’t take any man seriously who wears fake hair and real eyeliner and shops for true love on TV. Former baseball player Darryl Strawberry’s addiction problems unfortunately outshone his athletic career, so it doesn’t seem too unusual to see him on the show.
Yes, the celebrities are all raising money for charity, but you don’t see Angelina Jolie showing up and waiting to hear what Donald Trump thinks of her management skills. Appearing on Celebrity Apprentice is not something that A-listers do. So it’s sad to see Olympic gold-medalist Michael Johnson taking part. Sinbad brought me a lot of joy with his comedy in the ‘90’s—and I wish he were on my TV doing more stand-up, and not this. And Carol Leifer! As the inspiration for Seinfeld's Elaine Benes and a witty, hardworking woman, I was surprised to see Leifer show up in such an uncool setting. And nothing breaks my heart like seeing Cyndi Lauper on the show. Because I LOVE Cyndi Lauper. To me, Cyndi is to Madonna as Prince was to Michael Jackson: the Diet Pepsi to the Diet Coke of music, maybe slightly less popular, but superior. Plus, Cyndi’s been enjoying a little resurgence lately, doing press with Lady Gaga for MAC Cosmetic’s Viva Glam line. I want Cyndi to be too big and too cool for the board room.
Watching the first episode of the season on Sunday, some of my fears turned out to be allayed as the celebrities thus far seem to maintain a modicum of dignity or are able to display their larger-than-life personalities and/or talents (although Leifer surprised me with her willingness to refer to her co-stars as “bitches” behind their backs). While I wish some of them weren’t on the show, it’s not embarrassing to watch. So far.
Well, except for one contestant. There is one person on Celebrity Apprentice who, if anything, is almost too happy to be there—and that is former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. I am from and live in Illinois, so Blagojevich causes me shame every time he eagerly pops up in the media, which is frequently. The man has absolutely no shame and his history actually seems to make the other celebrities a little uncomfortable. Especially Sinbad, who seems half fascinated, half disgusted by the man. While his co-stars actually put their heads down and work during the challenges, Blagojevich, during Sunday's premiere, actually got in trouble for shirking his responsibilities in lieu of trying to convince perfect strangers that, despite being caught on tape trying to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat, he did nothing wrong.
It kind of pains me to say that, should you choose to watch more than the premiere of Celebrity Apprentice, it will be for Blagojevich. The guy will do anything to stay in the public eye, and a few people have actually pondered his mental health; guilty or innocent, good apprentice or not, he’s made for reality TV. Now excuse me while I go throw up.