"This next challenge will give me a chance to see how the contestants react when taken out of their element," explains Sir Richard Branson as we watch the contestants arrive in Marrakech, Morocco to stock footage of the "natives" of this "colorful, exciting country." Since Virgin is an international enterprise, Branson knows that the person he selects to replace him (ok, lets pretend we're still buying this - it makes it more fun!) will have to be able to adapt to foreign culture and deal with "…language barriers and unfamiliar surroundings." First they will have to learn to live with each other in peace and harmony. Yeah, right. Thanks to our oh-so-considerate editors we are treated to some Candy-bashing at the hands of Erica and Nicole. Could this be a set-up for what is to come? Since this is The Rebel Billionaire's now predictable modus operendi you can pretty much count on it! Here we learn of Nicki's pet name for Candida - "Candiva", which she has since cleverly claimed as the name for her personal website. Sara addresses the fact that Nicole and Erica seem hell-bent on finding fault with everything Candida does or says. They seem to feel that she contradicts herself at every turn. We haven't seen many examples of this behavior -yet. Candida elicits sympathy from Sara as she expresses that she doesn't want anyone to have to feel as awful and outcast as she has felt since the beginning of the game. She has coined her own term for her nemesis' - "The Brunette Bully Brigade" Candida seems to think that the remaining contestants would love to get rid of Nicki and Erica - funny they think it's the other way around. I have wasted an entire paragraph setting up this feud because that's what everyone is interested in, right? No one is tuning in for the great adventure, exotic locale and innovative challenges - they want to see catfights. Or so the producers have been lead to believe. Maybe they have failed to notice that no one is tuning in, period. They'd rather watch huge cut-outs of grossly overweight people surrounded by heaping bowls of food and listen to the "losers" drone on and on about how they can't believe they ever looked that awful than take a chance that this show might turn around and live up to it's promise. Sir Richard Branson greets his players and instructs them to be aware of everything around them, "As I said, keep your eye's open." is the blatant, after-the-fact, voiceover we hear as the contestants nod sagely. Now that the men have been reduced to three, Branson decides to shuffle the teams around a bit. Since Candida is the only player who has not yet been team leader she is chosen and allowed to pick her opponent. She chooses Nicole, to no one's surprise but Nicki herself. Candida figures it's the best opportunity she'll get to set Nicole up for dismissal. This should fuel her desire to win. In turn they select their teams. Candida selects Heather, Steve and Gabe while Nicole takes Erica, Shawn and Sara. The selection of Gabe over Sara was a questionable move since Sara was one of Candida's strongest allies. The ultimate outcome would have been quite different had she chosen more wisely. Heather is relieved to have been chosen by Candida, explaining that she believed Nicole would have chosen her after Erica and used her as a sacrificial lamb if their team would lose. Instead of outlining the upcoming challenge, Sir Richard informs them that they have been invited to dine that evening in the Royal Palace. The import of this honor is not lost on the contestants. As guests at a birthday celebration for King Mohammad VI, they dress in native garb and dine on local delicacies while being entertained by native musicians and, much to Gabriel's delight, belly dancers. Branson explains to their host the theory of the game, saying that it requires an almost Machiavellian strategy, to which Steve responds with shifty eyes, presumably in jest. I laughed at the use of the term "strategy". The only thing Machiavellian in this game is the criteria by which RB is judging the contestants, a strategy known only to himself. In a demonstration of what a "wild and crazy guy" he is, we see Sir Richard grope the dancers and eventually pick one up and flip her over in an apparent dance move, one he must have picked up on one of his numerous visits to the country. In what will turn out to be a eulogy of sorts, Richard describes his take on Steve. He tells us that he first met him playing tennis (cut top shot of Steve lobbing a ball at Branson's groin - all in good fun of course!) and found him "absolutely delightful". He has since revised his opinion, noting that Steve is absolutely determined to win, regardless of the consequences of his actions. From his tone of voice it seems that Branson does not consider this a desirable quality in a future corporate head (I'd bet Trump would beg to differ.) The following morning the contestants are lead to a site where they meet up with Sir Richard once again. He welcomes them to the Atlas Mountains and points out a landmark on an adjoining hilltop. This building, under construction, is to be the Kasbah Tamadot (luckily, they provide a nice caption for us - good marketing), a new addition to the Virgin chain of hotels worldwide. He spotted the location during on of his "Round the World balloon expeditions and his mother told him he had to make it a part of his empire. The challenge will be for each team to renovate and decorate one suite in 24 hours with a $5000 budget. Fans of Extreme Makeover Home Edition or The Complex (or The Mansion, or The Apprentice or… the list goes on) will recognize this particular test. What makes this one unique is the fact that they are in a foreign country and an hour away from the marketplace where they will purchase the bulk of their supplies. Keep in mind that the market in Marrakech is notorious for haggling, an art form which probably originated, and was certainly perfected there. After members of both teams reiterate the barriers associated with this particular feat, Candida appropriately flags it "Mission: Impossible". This defeatist attitude will do little to inspire her team.moreless
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