Monday, February 27, 2006

TV Review: The Apprentice Returns, And So Does The Donald

Perhaps one doesn't watch enough television, but one almost missed the premiere of the new season of Donald Trump's Apprentice. Were it not for Wal-Mart's in-store television network, one might have been hunting torrent sites and the ilk to sample the wares of the latest crop of corporate climbers, many of whom, if past seasons are any guide, would barely last in the halls of corporate America. Then again, were one to apply Peter's Principle, they might end up as successful vice presidents.

The new season has moved to Monday, and goes up against Fox's "24", ergo a DVR is essential for fans of both. Given the repetitive nature of "24" (Previously on...), that show is next on the line-up while we bore The Apprentice in near-real time.

This season features contestants that are apparently international, although there's not much discernible variety apart from 'the Russian' and a couple more 'diversity candidates,' as goes the phrase. The structure, at least in this episode was the same as before - two teams, "Gold Rush" and "Synergy" go head to head on a task that is little more than a fifteen minute advertisement for the product du jour, in this case, a Sam's Club Preferred Membership, which perhaps explains the Wal-Mart in-store advertising.

Neither team spent much effort on segmentation analysis or lead generation, preferring to go for straight in-store teasers and give-aways to induce existing customers to upgrade their membership. Well, one of the teams did explore lead generation, although the sum total of this involved a single call to a restaurant during the dinner rush asking if they were interested in the product offer. Fat chance!

The highlight of the evening was the scheming and plotting within the losing team after the results, and the resultant sniping in the boardroom. The Donald seems to have no love lost for people who interrupt his tirades, as the contesants would have known had they bothered to watch prior seasons (why didn't they?), thus, a more likely candidate was spared to excise another, who deserved expulsion perhaps equally, if not more. The episode wrapped up with the promise of further fireworks in coming weeks, although it's too early to tell who might survive the numerous shake-outs, screw-ups, dysfunctional tasks and who will trump the rest in this season of The Apprentice.

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