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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)

Nice people finish last. Lisa should not have been fired. But this show is all about drama, and Lisa seems to be Drama free! All these years that I had respect for Dionne Warwick, lsat night, all that respect went out the window! Her actions were nothing but pure Devil! She'll get what she deserves, I believe that what goes around comes around. A.S.A.P. didn't lose because of Lisa, they lost because of Starr and Dionne! Starr left The View in a Bitchy way and now she's being Bitchy all over again. I won't say that I won't watch again because I want to see what happens to NeNe and LaToya Jackson, but I am no longer a fan of Dionne Warwick, and I never was a fan of Starr Jones.

I agree that Trump will keep the obnoxious "celebrities" to keep the ratings up. BUT...he was wrong last night to fire Lisa. As a project mgr. she delegates the work that needs to be done. Star and Dionne bellied up to the task at hand. It was their work that caused team asap to lose. And the nerve of Star and Dionne to want their names on the book. Lisa did the right thing by not going along with their heightened sense of importance. The other team members should have put support behind Lisa. Star had planned to knock Lisa out of the game. Nene is another one that loves to start drama. She's been pretty quiet...the calm before the storm. I agree with this article. Marlee is a class act and I hope she has enough "backbone" to put the divas in their place. I will miss my Lisa. Love that gal.

I liked Star Jones better when she was fat. Dionne Warwick is a bitchy old sow. No one is brave enough to stand up to these old hags. Come on white girls and show some guts. Marlee Maitlin is the only one. Dionne hasn't had a hit since the 80's. Remember her Fortune Telling scam?

I have had several office jobs and have worked around black women. The ones that act ghetto are the ones that I avoid because they have no manners and are loudmouthed and rude. They are quick to overreact and want to fight. It never fails. Lisa I can definitely sympathize. Trump should of defended her. Lisa was the most beautiful woman in that room. She has class. Something that they don't posses. These are thing that money can't buy.

I agree with this article. However, I take issue with anyone who tries to deny Warwick her "legend" status. She was quite formidable in the music industry and her collaboration with Burt Bacharach is also legendary and a model to many.

If you only know her from her poor choice to do psychic friends, please do some research before denying her the rightful place she has in music.


One more thing , it's sad that many of these comments address race. It reveals how many stereotypes are still out there about how African Americans are. Since Lisa has not been held up as the poster child for the white race, why are Dionne and Star considered that for the African-Americans?

These comments reveal how deeply racial bias is entrenched in the hearts of some Americans. It's a shame....

Star Jones is uglier than ever. She a dishonorable woman, likely more selfish than ever, we could do with not seeing her on TV forever.
Dionne Warwick - shocked by her lack of class. She lives in a glass house with drug addicts family members and she treats people rudely, is ugly, and should go in hiding like her niece, the crack head of POP, Whitney, and take care of her daughter. Dionne - I've lost all respect for you, you made your bed - now lie in it - shame on you. A DIVA - THAT IS RIDICILUOUS! YOU LOST YOUR DIGNITY!

What a difference a week makes as toxicity oozes from last week's class act. First introductions are so beguiling and it's clear something is sick and wrong at the core (heart and soul) with Hatch, Jones and Warwick - yes 'legends' can have the rather low intelligence of henchmen and be bigoted to boot. If only Lisa Rinna had held a group vote re: the creative/writing rights baloney then we would see if it was the collective's premeditated nasty ambush editing made us believe or an affirmation of what Barbara Walters knows to be true. Marlee Matlin should've led this one- too bad........will miss supremely creative Rinna's panache and humor, such a lovely grateful exit interview too.

I enjoyed last night's show and will continue to watch the remaining epidsodes. Yes, I agree with all the comments regarding Star and Dionne. These women are "characters" in the worst way. Donald Trump got it right last night. He fired the right person. He repeatedly asked Lisa why would she fire both Star and Dionne and she repeatedly argued about their behavior and not their performance... Big mistake... I remind you their concept and writing of the book was why the ladies lost the competition. It wasn't until after Trump kept having to tell Lisa why they should be fired.. I don't think he wanted to fire Lisa but had no choice.. she couldn't even repeat to him what both he and Don Jr. stated throughout.... the obvious reasons to fire the "twitches."

So dissapointing- how uncool and lo life Dionne is, her concept about the childs book was so stupid and she lost the challenge for Lisa. Lisa, is the class act and should have stood up to the bullies and egotists,but it will come back to bite them in the a---. They are losers and will fail. Marlee is honest and she will let hem know who wins.

Two thoughts.

1) I see a HUGE difference between Star and Dionne. If you walk the walk, then you have the right to talk the talk. Star did almost all the work for that book (and yes, she made a bad decision regarding font size). But she DID the WORK. Dionne, on the other hand... not so much. Dionne was all mouth, no work. Star was all mouth and all work. Star's point about her name on the cover was her way of pointing out that this was NOT a team effort. And she was right. Dionne wanting her name on the cover was about... wanting her name on the cover.

2) The one to watch is Niki. I like Marlee, and she's done very well, but Niki has been the standout on the women's team for two shows in a row. Last week, remember that she was the pizza-making champion? And this week, if they had just listened to her one comment (the one we heard), they might have won. Remember in the episode, that 10-second throwaway clip... Niki said "Hey, I think this theme is too old for this age group. They aren't shy." Yep. And that's a large chunk of the reason they lost. Like Marlee, Niki didn't start a catfight. She said her piece and then did not dwell on it. She didn't bring it up until Dionne lied and said that everyone was on board with the theme. Niki was not, and she had said so.

Love,love Marlee. I am a sign language interpreter as well as I teach sign language and I loved it when Dionne tells the interpreter it maynot bother you but it bothers Marlee, and he says I am talking for Marlee. Please get Dionne off the show before she ruins the women's team . Marlee is the only one who tells her or puts her in her place.

I do think that Lisa Rhinna was not a good project manager. She was not tough or decisive and let people run all over her. She should have defended herself better in the boardroom. I was very disappointed in the behavior of Dionne Warwick because this show was an opportunity to get to know her beyond the music (and the psychic hotline) and she blew it. (I think she may only now be aware of how nasty she came across on the show.) I do not see this as a race issue - that's too easy and often the knee-jerk reaction of the intellectually lazy and ignorant. Star Jones is simply an unpleasant person - we knew that from the View. NeNe did not say or do anything that has not been done on past Apprentice programs. She was not nasty to Rhinna. She just focused on the strategy of removing her as a competitor. Latoya was clearly afraid of Star and Dionne in the boardroom. She worked well with Lisa during the task.

I do like Marlee Matlin - can't wait for her to be project manager.

Have to agree Niki is right as rain, refreshingly real, common sense smart, authentic with that unadorned beauty that isn't bought or contrived- really a nice counterpoint to Star's verbose hubris and tricky layers of high maintenance- both hard working for real.

The kindness towards Gary Busey by the guys has to be noted, also his genius on the stage for the kids, certainly a pro who knows his stuff.

What a disgrace. Warwick was beyond disgusting, and Jones, true to form, an educated loser. Trump by approving their dispicable behavior categorized himself as siding with avarice against the team players. Star did a lot of work? C'mon, any woman including myself, could have done the entire thing with both hands tied behind if they can manage a household with children. What a whinner you are Star! Big whoop, you had to choose a few things, well you chose badly...and you behaved badly..you are a pompous, self-centered, horrific person. You would do better to hide that a little better. I care no longer about any accomplishments of that wicked Warwick. Lisa is the winner.
She didn't fall into "attack" mode, she diligently practically pleaded for cohesiveness in her team, and it was not forthcoming. This program was wretched. Trump, you're fired!

Warwick should have been exposed as the one who thought making their lion deaf would be "too sad" for children. For that alone she should have been fired.

I will not watch the apprentice again, Lisa was the only one on the show that had class, Star Jones is nobody and NeNe- Dionne Warwick the Witch is a has been old that thinks a children book for five (5) year olds should be named "Just be yourself" I can care less about her bein a legend - she does not have class - and Ne Ne where did they get her off the streets and Lotoya don't know anything about anything - How did he get so many losers on the same show - and I'm not white - but just knows trash of any color when I see it

People who "throw around big words" do so because they are intelligent and well read and those words flow from them naturally. SJ is a former attorney so she speaks in legalese at times. That is no crime or insult and is actually educational for the listener. Those who are annoyed by people that "throw around big words" just show that they are unaccustomed to and therefore feel threatened by intelligence. Tsk, tsk.

My cousin blasted me once when we were in high school because I used the word "miscellaneous." I was "showing off!" LOL!!

Get a life and open a book once in a while. Who died and made you the vocabulary police?

Thanks, Lisa, for your integrity. At least the show was not a total bust. I can't take any more of Star and sadly Dionne is more of the same. Dionne's music will never be the same for this senior. Lisa is a lady.

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