Things begin in a most devastatingly respectable fashion as the S18 are split into gender teams and then asked to...run across a golf course. In a footrace. To determine who gets the better Bally's location for their first task. It's ugly, like, Hands On A Hard Body ugly, as the women slip off their heels and jump onto golf carts, laughing gaily about how much smarter they are, and the men...win anyway, somehow.
The two teams then do the task, promoting extra "membership plus" fitness classes. Team Capital Edge (the women) gets a Bally's in Spanish Harlem, while Team Excel (the men) gets a club in McAffluentVille, smack in the middle of Richerthanthou Borough. Both classes center on totally hardcore circuit training aerobics that we don't really get to see, but the Capital Edge marketing centers on cheap phone sex advertisement stylings, which makes nobody happy.
Everybody's totally attractive because The Donald picked them himself, crazy because NBC likes ratings, and virtually indistinguishable because there are like eighteen of them. Team Excel acts all like management types, boring dudes in suits that want to do their best and save their crazy for the weeks to come, but three men in particular stand out: Markus, the (basically self-appointed) Project Manager this week and some kind of mind-blowing freak; Josh, the cut-up and all-around wiseass Ikea-specs fake-accent cutie; and Randal, who loses a family member and is flown by Trump to the funeral.
On the Capital Edge side, wicked competent on the whole, four women in particular make stars of themselves: Alla, the pre-show ticking time bomb ex-stripper alleged murderess who ends up being the only clearly sane person in the bunch; Marshawn, who mark my words is a time bomb of some unspecified type; Kristi, the Reese Witherspoon doppelganger Project Manager full of bad ideas; and Melissa, the self-identified ethnic beauty martyr who's full of badness and craziness from minute one.
The task goes by pretty quickly, the women doing customer surveys and the men doing stuff we don't really see much of, because we've got to see miles of footage of Melissa acting like a total freak, lecturing everyone about how cheap and worthless she finds Latinos and refusing to shut up no matter how intensely she's asked to cut it out, or at least stop repeating herself verbatim over and over at the top of her lungs. She's pretty much Jeff from Apprentice: Martha, only slightly prettier and slightly more irritating.
Team Excel -- a stupid, stupid name -- wins (by eleven dollars), and due to a new twist in the game, vote not to give PM Markus exemption from next week's board room. They are correct to do so, because Markus is not only obnoxious and wrong, but also embarrassingly ineloquent and strength- and power-free. However, they have won the task, so they get to go to the Friars' Club with Trump. Which sounds like the opposite of fun, but at least Markus has ten foot-in-mouth experiences in what I'm sure amounted to fifteen total minutes of Friar Fun, most of them consisting of him stuttering to Donald all about how he's pretty much the same person as Donald Trump, only smarter and cooler. And he's neither? And, like, think about that a sec.
Meanwhile, Melissa acts insane and Omarosa-like and thinks she's on Survivor, killing all buzzes to the point that once Capital Edge gets into the boardroom, they turn on her as a group, asking one by one that Melissa be thrown out on her actual, literal, obnoxious ass. When asked which two team members she'll bring to the final boardroom, PM Kristi instead just brings the hated Melissa, a minimal risk at best, even though her trampy XXX "We'll Make You Sweat" porno campaign is universally hated.
In the boardroom, Melissa again goes completely insane, blaming the fact of her turning eight other adult women utterly against her on: her irrational hatred of Kristi, her own divisive glorious beauty and talent, and the jealousy and pettiness of all womankind. Not exaggerating here, dude. Carolyn finds it all utterly interesting and gross, especially since her decision was clearly already made after about five seconds of Melissa's company. It takes even less time for Donald to fire her, factoring in the time it takes him to break into Melissa's unrelated and nearly incomprehensible monologue on the subject of "Melissa Rules And All Other Women Are Just Bitches."
Mostly, it's just a relief to see the "Crazy Lady" Omarosa/Stacie J. type eliminated so quickly, rather that getting it edited all hatefully together over several weeks. Capital Edge ends up looking better than Excel for having located and expunged their toxic bullshit member so quickly, and bringing about one of the very limited legitimate firings ever on this show. Kristi returns to the suite to cheers and applause, while Melissa is driven away to the bughouse to the ongoing tune of her unrelenting craziness.
Donald explains, in his usual outdoor voice, how the new group of Apprentices comes from all over the nation, and they all have a story to tell. One story he avoids is how he hand-picked the entire squad, which is why they're almost all jaw-droppingly beautiful. Their CVs, however, tell the usual shockingly successful stories, which I always find inspiring. I love reading about how people had $150 million portfolios by the time they were in junior high. It makes me feel -- not accomplished exactly, but -- like I could be. Which is the whole point of this show: watching highly successful people doing great stuff you can learn from, and then horribly stupid things you can feel superior about.
We focus first on Kristi, a 24-year-old sales genius from Gainesville, FL. She talks about her early challenges, including having a premature child at the age of 16, right up front. We move to the somewhat creepy Mark, a "good old boy from the South," who feels that he will be a strong competitor. Thirty-five, he's a wealth management startup success with the goal of managing $100 million in the next five years. He loves country music and describes his style as "visionary" and is a total sexist, having said previously that he'd get along with Carolyn once she realized she wasn't in charge.
Markus, 41, looks like British television. He grew up "splitting his time between Chicago and Sarasota, FL," but has lived in many wonderful cities. He left pre-law at Santa Monica College due to his "entrepreneurial spirit." In short, he is a tool. He immediately starts in with some irritating talk about how he's a "big fish in a small pond" and it's "time to put himself among the real players" because he's "not only as good as them, but better."
Quick Quiz! Here are some quotes from Markus's NBC interview. Check one for every sentence you'd ever possibly say in your lifetime:
"I have an intense passion for life and adventure."
"High on the list are skiing, auto racing, flying and a passion for fine wine: I frequently travel to Bordeaux, Champagne and Paris."
"Finding fascination in the everyday is a definition of success."
"The relationships I develop and the incredible adventures I lived are success."
"As a leader I take others where they would not go by themselves."
"My adaptable approach, vision and forward-looking decisions are hallmarks of my style."
"Bill Rancic and I are kindred sprits."
"We both appreciate a fine cigar!"