Return of the regular Apprentice is just as good as the show was at its peak

It’s been more than three years since we’ve had an edition of The Apprentice with non-celebrity candidates, and since the regular-person version ended with a weak season, I was skeptical about last night’s return of the show. But Donald Trump’s competition returned in fine form.

The show overplayed it recession theme a bit—Trump pretending that his reality show is going to have an impact on the economy is the most laughable, and the constant reminders that the candidates are “unemployed” or “struggling” is unnecessary—but really what matters is that the producers found a bunch of type-A people with strong, cocky personalities and some baffling incompetence. Heck, there was almost a fight between two idiot alpha males, and there was the predictable trouble with leadership.

While I still love the celebrity edition for the way it exposes well-known people for who the really are, but watching regular people tackle difficult tasks is just as entertaining. It was nice to not have a first task that involved selling (though that’ll be the second task). Instead, the teams had to design an office space from scratch. Of course they did a horrible job, and the show even had to break the fourth wall to show a crew member trip and fall over a rug in the men’s space.

That led to a strong boardroom sequence during which Trump questioned one guy’s lack of “brainpower” and chose the men’s team as the winners despite the fact that the space looked like something Trading Spaces would regurgitate after a big lunch. But hey, what do we expect from Trump? And since the women imploded during the discussion, it worked out well. And for a few seconds, it even seemed like Trump would break his habit of firing the losing project manager and get rid of an abrasive, big personality. But he got rid of the project manager because, as we know, he had no choice.

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