Celebrity Apprentice proves itself as Vincent Pastore becomes his Sopranos character

If you’re wondering why NBC renewed The Celebrity Apprentice last week, or more importantly, why people are watching this season after abandoning the show over the past few seasons, re-watch Thursday’s episode when it airs on CNBC tonight at 9 or midnight, or anytime at nbc.com.

As former Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore left Trump Tower–he actually resigned, and wasn’t fired, since Donald Trump isn’t really eager to piss off his celebrity friends by crucifying and then firing them in the boardroom–the editors had some fun. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” played while the editors cut to shots of random people on the street, and as Pastore climbed into his car, the show suddenly cut to black, with the credits rolling over a black, silent screen. That ending, of course, ripped off the conclusion to The Sopranos, and while that was an obvious and even cheesy way to end Pastore’s time on the NBC reality series, it also worked perfectly, because Vincent Pastore is apparently convinced that he still is his character from the HBO show.

His character was killed for being a rat in the series’ second season, so it’s been a long time since then, but he still talks as if the show’s writers are giving him lines, throwing around phrases like “whacked” and “rat” constantly. In the boardroom, he literally threatened Piers Morgan’s life and compared himself to a famous mob boss. “Be careful. There’s going to be two guys following you in London now,” he said. Piers, who should be rewarded by Trump for injecting life into this season by being a huge ass, said, “Sorry, you are not Don Corleone.” “Maybe I am,” Vincent said. “How do you know? You don’t know who I am. You have no idea who I am.” Piers replied, “Well, I know you’re not Don Corleone.” Pastore said, “You have no idea.”

All of this erupted after Piers sent Vincent to literally spy on the women’s team, and it all went downhill–or uphill, in terms of entertainment–from there. Along the way, there was some fantastic Stephen Baldwin hypocrisy, brilliant business acumen from Trace Adkins, and enough intrigue to fill two hours without having any filler. Some celebrity reality shows can barely fill 44 minutes, never mind 88. The only question that remains is whether or not the show can keep this up, with abrasive personalities like Gene Simmons and Vincent Pastore off the show. At least Trump still has his reality ringers, Piers Morgan and Omarosa, and so far, they’re all he needs to pick fights and make good television.

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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.