Celebrity Apprentice debuts tonight

The Apprentice 7, the show’s first-ever celebrity season, debuts tonight on NBC at 9 p.m. ET, after being moved around the schedule. It will feature 14 B-list once-upon-a-time-were-stars competing in New York City for $250,000 that will go to their favorite charity.

The show retains its non-celebrity format, and Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. will show up to observe, as will George. Trump will be joined by a guest judge (“famous business leaders and industry legends,” NBC says) in the boardroom each week to help him make his decisions, although we know all he really wants is validation of his decision-making.

NBC also says that there’s another new change to the nature of the game: The contestants will be “using their fame along with their proven business acumen to win challenges,” and “[c]ertain tasks encourage the contestants to reach out to their network of celebrity contacts for assistance or donations.” That was probably inevitable, but will probably lead to the tasks being more about whoring–I mean, marketing–than ever before.

While Donald Trump is undeniably a blowhard who makes irrational decisions in the boardroom, ratings have dropped significantly over time, celebrity shows are kind of overdone, and even the series’ own contestants are tired of it, I find myself looking forward to the return of The Apprentice. As a Mark Burnett-produced series, it has strong production values, and is beautiful to watch, except when Trump’s hair is flapping in the wind. And the challenges tend to be compelling, even if they’re not really tests of a wide range of business skills.

The Celebrity Apprentice [NBC]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.