Michael Johnson leaves Apprentice, but Trump gives Cyndi Lauper, Sharon Osbourne “a pass”

Firings are nearly always lame on The Celebrity Apprentice, and when he’s not rationalizing his irrationality, Donald Trump is pretty much defining hypocrisy.

Tonight he did both, fired Selita for not having “the same fire” as Maria (translation: Maria makes better TV, the only reason he keeps any celebrities), and giving a pass to both Sharon Osbourne and Cyndi Lauper while basically forcing Michael Johnson to quit.

Cyndi Lauper was less of an awesome presence this episode because she had to go to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which she’d supported and worked to get passed. This was, of course, fantastic, and it provided a great visual image when Obama worked the crowd: Barack Obama looked like a giant and/or Cyndi Lauper looked like a child. (He’s 6’1″, by the way, and IMDB says she’s 5’3″.)

Meanwhile, Sharon Osbourne was completely absent after somewhat absent the past couple tasks due to illness. But in the Boardroom, Trump said, “one’s sick [Sharon] and one’s with the President [Cyndi],” and “I won’t fire [Cyndi] … and we’re going to give Sharon a pass for a little while longer.” In completely fake voice-overs recorded later and injected into the show, Trump said, “I don’t believe what I’m seeing here. First Darryl quits, then Michael leaves, and now we’re having this situation with Sharon. … I understand people get sick, but I can’t let this go on to much longer. It’s not really fair to the rest of you who are here.”

To me, it seemed that was dubbed in to justify Trump’s essential dismissal of Michael Johnson, who visited Trump in his office. The Olympian said he had “a family, personal situation. And I’ve got to head back to San Francisco to take care of my son.” Trump probed, “What is the problem? You’re fighting with the wife?” (Sigh.)

Michael Johnson suggested he could come back, saying, “I should know when I get there.” But Trump dismissed that and said, “I don’t think it helps if you come back, because I think you will have missed too much time. You won’t be able to compete; it’s not fair to the other people, because people will be fired in-between, and I think that’s not fair to the rest of the team, right?” Michael Johnson agreed: “You’re exactly right.”

On the celebrity editions, the contestants sometimes disappear for a day or two to take care of a previous obligation, like Cyndi’s trip to the White House, but they usually return for part of a task. Missing a full task or more seems like a fair reason to be dismissed, but sick or not, Sharon missed more than an entire task and was given a pass, and it’s unclear why Trump would allow her to do that and force him out.

Except: all Trump and the producers care about is who makes good TV, and despite being thoughtful and smart, Michael Johnson isn’t as wacky fun as Cyndi Lauper, biting as Sharon Osbourne, or crazypants as Brett Michaels, so it was easy to let him go.

Oh, and how the hell did the “funky godfather” Scotty Pippin commercial not win? It’s not like the women’s team had Clint Black masturbating with Right Guard, but I suspect their ad was still too crazy, so the company went with the far less interesting ad. And neither team’s ad is on Right Guard’s site, which should tell you something about how the ads were received. Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but the women’s team needed to be pared down a little bit to even things out.

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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.