The Apprentice: Los Angeles -- an early look
No sense in explaining the premise of this show; we all know what The Apprentice is. It's all about getting ahead, making your mark, and scooping up all that extra money, money, money. So it only makes sense that the sixth installment of the Mark Burnett produced reality series takes place in Los Angeles, a city obsessed with vanity, appearances, and the almighty buck. However, it seems that Burnett and Trump have finally realized that for The Apprentice to ever stand side by side with Burnett's CBS juggernaut (you've probably heard of it, usually takes place on an island), things needs to change. I'm not so sure the transformations this show has gone through were the right ones though.
First, let's talk about what's good. The move to L.A. has definitely invigorated the show; it feels fresh and it definitely feels brighter. Remember that first season of CSI: Miami and how flamboyantly colorful and explosive it looked when compared to the Vegas original? The same can be said when you look at this and compare it to the previous five New York seasons.
The show also feels younger. Gone are Carolyn Kepcher and George Ross. Filling Carolyn's seat is The Donald's Wharton educated daughter Ivanka and the other seat will be filled by a rotating cast of former Apprentices and the winning Project Manager. That's right, one of the new twists this season is that the winning Project Manager will join Trump at the boardroom table during the firing process of the losing team. On top of that, the winning PM will also remain PM until their team loses. I like that a lot because it creates the potential for the dynasty if one team were to keep winning. By the same token, that could backfire, and seeing the same person in charge over and over could quickly get stale.
I've now seen the first two episodes of the season and the show quickly establishes what's staying the same and what isn't. As I mentioned, the younger feel is definitely prevalent but here's what I don't like about it. When Trump had George, Carolyn, and season one winner Bill Rancic by his side, it felt like he had actual professionals (who knew what they were talking about) advising him. With the new structure, he could have different people advising him each week. I'm not sure I like that inconsistency and, if anything, all it does it isolate Trump and it makes it clear that the onus of decision is solely on him.
The other big twist this season has in store is the theme: the haves and have-nots. All season long, the winning team will get to sleep inside Trump's swank L.A. mansion while the losing squad will bunk out in the backyard in tents. It highlights the fact that winning is what you want, but we knew that anyway. It feels gimmicky and I'm not sure it serves any purpose beyond that. The idea is that it will further motivate people to win. The potential of being hired by Donald Trump wasn't enough encouragement to do well?
Overall, the big question is: has the show changed? Yes, definitely -- enough that loyal fans will be pleased and perhaps enough that lapsed fans who have skipped the last few seasons (myself included) will come back.
The Apprentice: Los Angeles premieres on Sunday, January 7 at 9:30 on NBC.