Why Donald Trump Wants Star Jones to Go Far on 'The Celebrity Apprentice'
by Joel Keller, posted Apr 25th 2011 4:00PM
It's not like other competition shows, where a panel of judges have to come to some sort of consensus, or a voting show where the person who gets the fewest phoned-in, online and text votes goes home. No, the sorta-kinda-almost 2012 presidential candidate is the lone arbiter of whom gets fired, and he has often used weird rationales to fire someone who didn't necessarily deserve it, especially on the celebrity edition of the show (just ask Khloe Kardashian).
Trump used one of those rationales last night to fire La Toya Jackson. It was almost predictable. Even though Star Jones fumbled badly as the losing team's leader in last night's task, there was no way in hell she was ever going home. Why? Because Trump knows a good player when he sees one.
You may rake me over the coals for "spoiling" last night's show, but if you know anything about 'The Celebrity Apprentice' or Trump, you knew that once the women's team lost, last night's result was a foregone conclusion. Heck, all season long, the ads for the show have shown a confrontation between NeNe Leakes and Jones that has yet to happen -- it's going to happen as the teams get their task next week -- so it was fairly safe to assume that Jones was going to make it pretty far.
What was Trump's rationale for firing La Toya? That the women need the strongest team possible to compete with a small but gelling men's team. It's not that La Toya did anything particularly poorly on last night's task -- an ad campaign for Trump's luxury hotel chain that both teams royally screwed up -- it's just that she was the overall weakest player on the women's team.
Granted, Jones manipulated her way to that result by bringing the equally strong-willed Leakes back to the boardroom with her and La Toya, knowing that NeNe would be forced to criticize La Toya in order to save her own hide. But once Trump got the opening to shape the teams the way he wanted, La Toya was a goner.
Let's face it: The only thing that's (possibly) out of Trump's control on this show is which team wins and loses each task. But everything else is under his control -- who is on which team, what companies he works with on the tasks, and who gets fired. So the entire show progresses according to his whim.
And you know he wants Star Jones to make it as far as she can in this contest. NeNe seemed to be surprised that Star would "cut your head off" to save herself, but she shouldn't have been. I don't know Jones beyond what I've seen of her over the last 15 years on television, but I know she's cunning, manipulative, ruthless and will protect herself at any cost. And she does it in a way that makes you think she's acting as a team player ... when she really isn't.
For instance, after La Toya got the boot, NeNe begged Star to listen to people next time and at least consider other viewpoints. "I guess that's a lesson for me, then," she tells NeNe, with a complete look of sincerity in her eyes. Anyone watching, though, knew that she didn't mean a word of what she said.
In other words, she's an ideal 'Apprentice' contestant and perfect for the celebrity edition. You don't think Trump is going to try to wheedle his way to either a Jones / John Rich finale or -- if he's in a particularly amused mood -- a Jones / Leakes finale? He managed to prop up Joan Rivers long enough for her to make a highly charged finale against her "nemesis" Annie Duke two celebrity seasons ago. He mixed an matched teams to the point where he got Brett Michaels vs. Holly Robinson Peete last year, and likely only gave Michaels the win after he almost died (though they both deserved the win). What makes this year any different?
Trump's whims are the reason why you need to watch 'The Celebrity Apprentice' for the entertaining celebrity confrontations and meltdowns and not for the competition. Because, when it comes right down to it, it's not a competition at all, but an examination of who will make for a more entertaining finale. At least Trump is being more honest about it this time around.
'The Celebrity Apprentice' airs Sundays at 9PM ET on NBC.
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