Celebrity Apprentice starts with too much crazy

Watching last week’s premiere of the all-star Celebrity Apprentice, I almost immediately felt like I was watching Survivor. Not because of Omarosa’s scheming–though I’d love to see her play Survivor, because she really knows game play–but because so many of the returning cast members were people who were once entertaining but quickly wore out their welcome. While the show has been the best-cast celebrity series on TV, it was clear that they worked well as first-time participants and not so much as returnees.

Gary Busey’s shtick now just seems old, and Piers Morgan’s anti-Omarosa tirades got so old at least one other celebrity told him to shut up and he managed to generate sympathy for Omarosa. And there are several previous contestants who I can imagine would have made for better return players than this group. Dennis Rodman may need to redeem himself, but he’s nearly always relegated to the background.

The second episode’s boardroom had zero suspense–Dee Snider seemed like a goner from the start of the episode–but Omarosa’s deeply emotional reaction to winning for Michael Clarke Duncan’s mother’s charity shocked the other cast members into silencing their cynicism, at least until they turned on her in interviews and even in the suite later. “Oscar right there,” the succinct Dennis Rodman said.

The first episode did have amazing strategy from Trace Adkins, who exposed that annoying first task for what it is (fundraising and nothing else), and raised a ridiculous amount of money for his charity.

And the second episode had a lot more of the moments I like, such as Stephen Baldwin hilariously insisting that Donald Trump is so amazing that he has a plane that’s bigger and better than a 747: a 757, which of course is much smaller than a 747. There was also an embarrassing project by one team which created a 3D photo experience at Universal Orlando that was simply standees of themselves.

If Piers Morgan stays away, Gary Busey is managed and/or leaves soon, and we get more of Trace Adkins-style surprising strategy and work, this will be a solid season. But I’m nervous that once again, a Mark Burnett reality series has decided that crazy trumps all, even if we’ve seen it before. On The Celebrity Apprentice, the only repeat crazy we need is Trump.

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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.