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Reporter Shaun Byron and Video Editor Andrew DuPont sound-off on whatever is on their minds, from politics to pop-culture, from movies to the main stream media. Local, national, world-wide? If it's in the media mix, these two are sure to have an opinion on it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yet another reality show comes to an end

I'm almost embarrassed to admit I watched the entire season of The Celebrity Apprentice, despite having never watched an entire episode of the show prior to this season.

I skipped part of the 3-hour finale, which was shamelessly dragged out by Trump to give his sponsors more screen time. The winner, Joan Rivers, was not announced until literally 30-seconds before the credits started rolling. I can't help but think this was a conscious move on Trump's part because he's fully aware than after 8 seasons, nobody cares about his afterthoughts and were only staying tuned in to here "You're Hired."

Unfortunately for the few people who may have still had faith in the format, the finale showed just how incapable Trump is of subtlety, not that this should be a surprise coming from the man who has to put his name in big gold letters on everything he is involved with.

The final two competitors were Rivers and poker champion Annie Duke, who over the course of the show developed a bitter rivalry. From an outside observer it was obvious what was happening: Duke, a master of reading people and game theory, clearly outplayed and manipulated people better than anyone else on the show, and she accomplished the most for her charity as well. Rivers took everything personal, and having no real business skills to fall back on, resorted to personal attacks on Duke.

So it wasn't surprising when Trump used trivial criteria to eliminate other contestants so that the finale could showcase the rating-boosting rivalry. It also wasn't surprising when Trump picked his old friend Rivers as the winner despite Duke dominating the entire season. Trump took Rivers side in every dispute, never once asking Joan to tone it down, even when she compared Duke to Hitler and implied Duke's ease at raising money was due to her friends being in the mafia. Whenever Duke would attempt to defend herself, River would interrupt with personal tirades that would go way off subject, and "The Donald" never asked Rivers to let Duke finish. In short, his wore his personal bias on his sleeve.

This would have all be forgivable in the world of reality TV if it clearly didn't rig the show. Unfortunately it did. In the end, Trump picked Rivers despite admitting that Duke greatly outraised her, won more challenges, and had never once been on the chopping block throughout the season. The reason he gave: Rivers is old... but tenacious. That was pretty much all he had to say in her favor at the end, as if being short on the matter would cover how much clearly favored her throughout the season.

The list goes on and on..
- Rivers was absent from parts of challenges because of personal obligations, something Trump fired Khloe Kardashian for.
- Rivers stormed off the show in protest when her daughter was fired, calling other contestants names and leaving Trump Tower (she returned the next day).
- Rivers upset the designer on the final challenge so much that he refused to work with either her or Duke, and even with it caught on tape and shown to everyone, Rivers called Duke a liar for pointing this out during the final board meeting
- Despite the all the previous stuff, in the end, Rivers claimed to have played the game with honor, and like everything else, Trump never questioned her.

So who cares right? Well, this is pop-culture blog at times and unfortuantely a large amount of bad reality TV permeates that culture. As I said before I'm almost embarassed to admit I watched this show, so taking 10 minutes to pick it apart seemed like a good way to push it out of my mind forever.

From what I've heard The Apprentice has been going downhill since the second season, with each episode being little more than a two-hour commercial for whoever was sponsoring it that week. This may be what kills the show off completely though, as Trump, having no poker face apparently, made it clear there is no real competition left on the show. I think a lot of people, myself included, will put up with a lot of the garbage on reality TV if they think the competition aspect is genuine. But now, like The Bachelor, The Apprentice has dug itself a hole from which it cannot get out.



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