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'Celebrity Apprentice' recap: That's right, Lil' Jon, the catfight's 'poppin'

NUP_143135_0027 The assignment was to create a children's storybook, but for Lisa Rinna this week's "Celebrity Apprentice" was something of a nightmare. 

The haunting of Rinna began when much of her team either threw her under the bus or didn't bother to speak up. The team — wait, I'm sorry,  Dionne Warwick — came up with the story of a young lioness who learned to be herself. The men told a story of acceptance as students learned to welcome Lil' John, a newcomer different from his classmates.

The judges ultimately decided it was the men who won the night. But that's irrelevant. We've learned who's who for the season. And Star Jones has fallen right into the archetype defined oh so brilliantly by the infamous Omarosa in the first season. She's there to manipulate, to throw around big words simply because she can ("plausible deniability," for example) and issue threats that serve only to illustrate her grandiose illusions. "When you try to take down the queen," she said, "you better kill her."

Oh, brother!

This seems to be the appropriate place to remind everyone what this show is about: raising money for charity. And maybe raising the stock of celebrities — and semi-celebrities — who may not, um, be at their peak. This is supposed to be a rehabilitating experience, and it actually can be.

The funny thing about reality shows like this one that create so many villains is that these shows also have the remarkable ability to humanize. A lot of these contestants, on "Celebrity Apprentice as well as other shows, arrive as caricatures and tabloid headlines. Even the ones looked upon positively are thought of as two-dimensional superlatives: "Academy Award-winning Marlee Matlin" or "music legend Dionne Warwick. (Just as  Rinna had those unfortunate lips and Star Jones was the heavyset co-host of "The View" who, for initially obfuscated reasons, lost a ridiculous amount of weight.)

Though these shows aim to show as many flaws — if not more — as lighthearted moments of humility, they also show the contours that make a flat character come to life.

Rinna is more than a former soap opera star. She's a weak project manager, and she has the personality of the type-A PTA mom who naturally puts herself out there as a martyr. But she's kind and honest to fault. Or Meat Loaf, another example. He's always been portrayed as this alpha-male type, but he was gushingly emotional over a children's book. It may have seemed a bit much at some points, but it was endearing — and I'd argue he even ingratiated himself with the Donald by showing his emotional side.

Then you have the other side of the coin: the people who, the more you see of them, the more you realize how absolutely horrible they are. Star Jones apparently wanted to show that women could be strong and didn't always have to have catfights. And guess what she started! A catfight. She saw weakness in Lisa Rinna and she pounced. She may have been a smart player, but she didn't do anything to further the notion that women can actually get along on reality television. 

And Dionne Warwick was even worse. Warwick tried to act as though she was manipulative and outsmarting Rinna as well. But she was the diva — in the worst possible way. She was self-aggrandizing, trying to get as much credit as possible.

Just take the whole deal over the book cover. Jones contended it should say "written by Star Jones"; Warwick believed it should say "conceived by Dionne Warwick." Remember: This is their team effort for charity. 

Thank goodness for Marlee Matlin. She's the one to watch on this show and turned out to have wonderful wit and refreshing honesty. While everyone watched as Rinna was sacrificed at the Donald's altar, it was Matlin who stepped up and said Warwick should be fired — she conceived a failed story and she's a pain to work with (and if you remember last week, she's not that great with a credit-card machine).

It takes a lot to stand up to a legend. And it takes even more to do it with class and respect. Amid Jones' ignition of a catfight, it's nice to see Matlin — a real class act — honoring a pledge Jones proved herself woefully incapable of living up to. 

— Rick Rojas

Photo: NeNe Leakes, left, Lisa Rinna, Star Jones and Hope Dworaczyk work on their children's book on "Celebrity Apprentice" on Sunday night. Credit: Douglas Gorenstein / NBC 

Comments () | Archives (42)

Rick: Great comments and right on target! Thanks for writing the (obvious) truth about Star Jones and Dionne Warwick. Like you, I respect and admire Marlee guts for speaking the truth. I'm very disapointed in others for not speaking up as well. And the Donlad!! Why didn't he ask for more other opinions other than the witches (oops ...sorry for the mispelling!!!)

Warwick and Jones were nothing short of vindictive and it's funny to me that they saw no failure on their part for the them and writing of a book that caused them to lose. It's also funny that Warwick saw Rinna as such a failure but was sure their team would win with out a doubt. Seems a little contradictory to me. Legend??? Yeah, she's come along way since the Psychic Friends Network, and it doesnt take a psychic to see that she is certainly a legend in her own mind. The same goes for Jones. Neither one of them had the nerve to step up to the plate and admit they were failures... the other women... just sat there like knots on a log. I agree with you. If I can stand to watch this again, I hope Maitlin goes home the winner. She is the only one that's worthy of anything as far as I can see.

I thought Lisa was a class act from start to finish, even if her leadership skills were lacking. You can't lead by consensus, and she was trying to do that. She was right in thinking that she had taken the project manager position too soon in the game. She needed time to figure out the personalities and how they needed to be handled, but a good leader is able to figure that out "on the fly". She was absolutely manipulated by Star and Dionne, who are NOT honorable people. Star seems to want to be viewed as a "powerful woman", but her micromanaging and bullying showed her true colors. A case in point: her insistence on calling Lisa to come back immediately and approve the cover and then arguing when Lisa DELEGATED that task to her. That little exchange (as well as her insistence on being given story credit on the cover) made her true intentions transparent, and told me all I needed to know about Star Jones. She is not a powerful woman, she is a manipulative bully, and I hope Marlee Matlin, who is the epitome of a strong and classy woman, puts her in her proper place, when SHE becomes project manager.

AMEN! I was so enraged by the horrendous behavior of those two women that I could not sleep. They were worse than any bully on any given playground playgroud, which is ironic considering they are representing a charity and are considered "adult". The "arguments" that Star (her name tells us a lot about her person) used against Rinna, should have been used against her. They pursposefully and systematically manipulated everyone to take Rinna down. They should be ashamed of themselves. They were so self serving that I wanted to slap them both in the face by their grandmother and told to stop acting so ugly. It's no wonder "Star" is no longer a host on The View and that Celine, I mean Dionne, is considered a Diva of the worst kind. I was absolutely appalled and have lost respect for Donald Trup for allowing this bullying behavior to be rewarded with "air time" and his approval. In this case, Rinna's so-called "weak" was a breath of fresh air that should be lauded and respected. Dionne and Star should be spanked and exhiled to their rooms until Mamma decides that they can behave like ladies.

Had the blatant prejudice that so called ‘legend ‘ Dionne Warwick displayed towards deaf people on last night’s show been a white person making the same kind of absurd comments about black people, she would have automatically been booted from the show. Shame on her, and shame on Starr, Neenee and the rest of the cast for not stepping in and calling her on her bigotry.

It was a bad night for race relations. the black women showed themselves to be ghetto bullies - not unlike watching black teens beat a suburban white mom and nobody helped.

Star Jones has destroyed her career - showing us that you cannot take the ghetto out of the girl. These hollywood types require FANS - and people will flee from Dionne, the Atlanta ho, Jackson and Jones.

Pity it showed up racial differences in a week where there is no looting in Japan... and Haiti is still a living hell.

There ARE differences - and reality TV is resurrecting some ugly stereotypes that became stereotypical for good reasons.

sorry.... you cannot take the ghetto out of the girl

oooew...after watching last nite...that was it for me....Dionne Warwitch is a liar and a bully....so is Star....their time will come because I dont think they can stand up to the guys....the rest of the white girls will fall just to get away from them. There is definitely some division there and it is coming from 2 and even 3 different women ..do I need to mention names.

That was the last time I will watch the show and will be writing the sponsors as well. I won't ever buy DW music or even listen for that matter she's a trash bag....and does Star Jones even know how to practice law.....then there was the blonde freak....I will say that Latoya knew it wasn't right....but most of all Trump knew this was bullying.....and should have stopped it...he's the ultimate leader in all of this....a real good trait to pass on to viewers in lite of the fact that it's exactly what we don't want kids to learn so they can grown up and refine their BULLYING ABILITIES.

Trumpy has decided before the task who he wants to stay on the show - and it's clearly, hatch, ugly star, ugly dionne, why? Because he wants to create drama. He asked the women 100times more questions than he asked the men, he was prodding every one of the black ladies to disparage Lisa. He finally asked one of the white ones,and she said she would fire Dionne. And then he completely ignored her suggestion and later said that EVERYONE wanted Lisa gone. I've lost respect for Donald this year, I have never seen him play the show this way, he is playing it on his own greedy terms for ratings. The charities don't even matter to him.

Dionne W and Star Jones are so B.... they are really insufferable and I so wish that it was in this instance Dionne W who was fired. Rinna was surely the lamb taken to the slaughterhouse. Marlee has my admiration.

Last nights show was a disgrace! I can't believe Trump got caught up in that drama created by the laughable Jones and the pathetic Dion Warwick. A legend? cut me a big break, she was so rude to Matlin and most everyone and Lisa Renna is a true lady and conducted herself as such. And I always thought Donald Trump was smart......come on Trump.

Rick - you nailed it. As have the majority of the comments here. I think race can be left out of this conversation. This was about who had class and who didn't. Do I think Star got a lot of stuff done last week and this week? Yep. Do I think she can do the work? Yep. Do I like her? Nope. Do I think her agenda was to get rid of Lisa? Yep. If Trump is all about rewarding malicious behavior - then he made the right decision last night. Warwick was atrocious in her attitude towards Marlee. I cannot believe no one else spoke up about it. Just flat out ick. Marlee had class.

Donald made the wrong choice in firing Rinna.. Star Jones Dionne make me want to turn off the TV not only is it under bus for Rinna... they hv a collective group of black women making sure they stand as one... I hate that.. I never thought Donald would allow that.. jealousy etc got Rinna voted out... Donald did not listen well... u can be nice & still be forceful.. u don't hv to be a right out b____. I will see what happens next but if Star Dionne continue I totally refuse to watch this play out... I admire Rinna for trying to stand nicely while being slapped from every side... can't believe Donald complimented her then fired her... Donald I usually agree w u but u were wrong this time.

RE: Celebrity Apprentice, Firing of Lisa Rinna, aired 03-13-2011.
Well said, Rick Rojas! What I observed on last night's show was shameful and the charity that Lisa Rinna represented (breast cancer) was the loser. The way Starr Jones and Dionne Warwick targeted Lisa Rinna was reminescent of a pride of hungry lions going after a lone deer. Savage. Ms. Jones decided to take Lisa Rinna down from the very first game and THAT was her agenda, not to raise money for charity. To her, "it was not business, it was personal". I'm done watching the show.

As much as I despised the arrogance of Jones and Warwick (and hope they suffer great humiliation in the end), Rinna and Cassidy last week, have no skills in leading a team. They are wimps in the business world which was obvious to the Trumps. Her team didn't throw her under the bus, they just failed to point out the "Do not walk signal" as she crossed. This is no politically correct tea party they're in. She was not ready to compete. Unfortunately, few on ASAP brought the backbone necessary to compete (and defend) against Jones. Jones' weakness will be that she cannot follow and when her team loses, it will end up being her fault.

The men are actually more capable of working together, not that they don't have obstacles. Canseco is the center of his own universe and will take any problem personally, like it was intended to provoke him. I can hardly wait until Space Cadet Busey becomes a project manager. Can the show survive?

As for Donald Trumps comments about Lisa's lips and mens tattoos - Maybe he should consider letting someone fix his hair.

What a "hippo"cryte

Lisa Rinna is a class act, and she was bullied because of this as well as just being a decent, positive person. We thought she actually was the winner last night for staying true to herself and not letting Dionne and Star break her down and act like them. We were really impressed with Lisa, and disagree with Trump that "she doesn't have any fight in her". She stood up to them without insulting or yelling at them and that's inner strength, i.e., "fight in her". Very impressive.

We were shocked to see the real Dionne Warwick last night. Ironic she is known for her one hit song "That's what friends are for". All for one TV show (for charity no less), she has ruined her reputation. I hope to never see her on TV again and if her one song is on the radio, we will promptly change the channel. What an ugly person.

I am in a complete state of shock and sick to my stomach after last night's episode of Apprentice. Both Star Jones and Dionne Warwick showed what "NON" class acts they are. How dare Donald Trump allow them both to sit and snigger and snidly smile as he pointed out to Lisa with great glee just how they were "playing her" as if they should be proud of their behaviour. I am sorely ashamed as should anyone be of Dionne's behaviour. She is not a strong woman - She is a self-loving, hateful, bitter and deceitful old woman who is a disgrace to her race and her raising, or lack there of. What a disaster. Donald Trumps should know if he's any kind of leader in the business world, that is imperative for people to work together even if they do not particularyly like one another, rather than fuss and fight like egotistical children. And for him to ask Marlee "Don't you know who Dionne Warwick is?". Yes, Mr. Trump, we DEFINETLY KNOW WHO AND WHAT who she is now.

Bad calls, Mr. Trump, Both last week and this week.

You, Star and Dionne are not there for charity. You are there for self promotion and you can do it from now on without me.

If I have ever read an article posted by undercover racism, well this is it. I don't think Star ever seen a ghetto or lived in one, so please stop calling her ghetto. She may be alot of things but not ghetto. So stop calling African-American people ghetto just because you are upset with their actions. Comment on their actions or character and not their color. I don't agree with the way Ms. Dionne Warwick talk to the ladies last night. But that does not have anything to do with her color, more like her age. A lot of elderly people are kind of mean. And I came across more mean-spirited white women than black, thats a true statement. So I think you need to look at what you are really saying. You did not see 2 or 3 women in a debate. You saw 2 black gals and 1 white woman in a debate, and the black gals need to learn their places. Wow and I thought this was 2011.

For about five minutes I thought I could vote for Trump for Pres!!
No longer, not with his total lack of judgement and good sense.
He's downright scary.

Also Lisa had a lot say behind everyone's back, but when it came to face to face she never was woman enough to say anything. I guess that is a class act, more like a classical back stabber. If don't believe me re-watch last week's episode,btw I love Gary Busey he is so hilarious.

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