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Universal Studios Home Video presents
The Apprentice: The Complete First Season (2004)

Omarosa: You're emotionally unstable.
Ereka: That is like calling the kettle black.
Omarosa: See? There you go with your racist terms. What was that you said about black people?

- Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, Ereka Vetrini

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: December 17, 2004

Stars: The Donald, George, Carolyn, The Hair
Other Stars: Heidi Bressler, Katrina Campins, Jessie Conners, Jason Curis, Kristi Frank, David Gould, Amy Henry, Bowie Hogg, Kwame Jackson, Tammy Lee, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, Troy McClain, Bill Rancic, Sam Solovey, Ereka Vetrini, Nick Warnock
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, adult humor)
Run Time: Approx. 12 hours
Release Date: August 24, 2004
UPC: 025192549625
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-A-B C+

DVD Review

How did beleaguered businessman Donald Trump go from punch line to TV star (and, well, let's face it, still a punch line) in a year? He's got Mark Burnett to thank. The reality TV maven convinced the Donald to oversee The Apprentice, last summer's reality sensation and NBC's last, golden (but we'll get to gold later) hope to resuscitate its Please Watch TV Thursday line-up. Ratings for Season Two, currently on the air, haven't been very impressive, but Season One was a knockout, for obvious reasons. The Apprentice ranks with the best of reality television in terms of humor, style, entertainment, and production values.

The conceit is a simple one. Sixteen Type-A Americans, eight men and eight women of all different races (well, 13 whites and three minorities) and backgrounds (some Harvard grads, others self-starters who own their own companies) come to New York for "the ultimate job interview." They are split into teams by gender (the men name themselves "Versacorp," the women choose "Protégé," exemplifying the gender divide between "lame" and "cutesy") and each week face off in marginally business-related tasks like a competition to see which team can refurbish and get the best rental price for a New York apartment in three days, and which can make the most money overseeing a pedicab crew for a day. At the end of each task, the losing team goes before Trump and his two advisors, George and Carolyn (who also supervise throughout), in the Tribal Council-esque Boardroom, and one of them gets "fired." Though technically, I suppose, they're actually just "not hired," but that wouldn't look as good on a T-shirt.

Even with the typical whitewashing, the cast is far better than on most reality shows, at least in terms of entertainment value. Sam is an early standout, a Trump-worshipping oddball who doesn't just think outside the box, but outside the box factory (just watch him try to sell a guy a glass of lemonade for $1,000, pitching it as a New York experience). He's obviously not going to win, but Trump keeps him around a while for sheer amusement (after all, none of the other candidates curl up on the floor in the fetal position during tasks). I also enjoyed the catfights on the women's team, particularly the frequent blowouts between Ereka and Omarosa, because both are blind to their own idiocy and it's very amusing. As for Omarosa, she's my favorite reality villain ever. Never mind her questionable credentials (she claims to have worked with Bill Clinton, when all accounts indicate she was a low, low, low-level White House nobody), because she exaggerates enough on the show (during one task, a small flake of plaster conks her on the head, and she uses it as an excuse to bail on work and laze around for the next several weeks, whining that she has a concussion, despite medical reports to the contrary). So famous was her fiery attitude, she was given her own NBC promos ("Two words... Oma. Rosa."). Which, of course, she took as flattery, because bad PR is better than none at all when you've whored yourself out to reality TV.

As for the host, maybe it's charisma, or maybe it's the self-assurance that comes with owning a shiny, gold-plated apartment and a sparkly, large-breasted Italian girlfriend, but Donald Trump has definite television presence. Despite the ill-chosen pink shirt/tie combos and a head of hair that's more a fearsome, hypnotic example of the awesome power and terrible beauty of nature (somehow, it seems to be both receding and moving southward down that majestic forehead, like a mighty empire looking to colonize Eyebrow Ridge), Trump comes off as a pretty likable guy. It's nice that his money means he doesn't have to censor himself, because few people need to hear they are idiots more than reality show contestants. All his self-pimping ("Trump Ice will be the best water on the market, made from the most lavish, gold-enriched streams in Jersey!") should be nauseating, but somehow, it's just kind of endearing (Aw, look! Trump's apartment looks like Liberace's id!).

Trump's advisors, George and Princess Diana clone Carolyn, are stars in their own right, particularly Carolyn, who transcends stereotypes of the bitchy, business-minded ice queen and comes across like what she is, a professional willing to speak her mind, who isn't paid to sugarcoat or play nice. Plus, she's not afraid to tear into the women's team for using slut appeal to sell everything from lemonade to drinks at Planet Hollywood.

The production is vintage Mark Burnett—basically Survivor in business suits. The team competitions, the elaborate ceremony of the boardroom, the music, the personalities, high gloss entertainment all the way. Much credit is due to the editors, who manage to create compelling storylines out of the most mundane tasks (because... selling lemonade?) and find moments of unintentional irony and stupidity that reveal the contestants for the morons they obviously are (well, some of them anyway—no one could have invented Omarosa, that's for sure).

And though The Apprentice bears the influence of its forebears, it's also, I think, more consistently entertaining than even the best seasons of Survivor, simply because it's more dynamic, and the varying settings and challenges allow for more weird and wonderful personality clashes. Like when bizarro Tammy, when working to secure a charity package deal with former MTV host Carson Daly, asks him repeatedly if he knows Tiger Woods, and if they could arrange a day of golf "with Carson Daly and a celebrity." That sound you hear is Carson's dignity crumbling just a little bit more.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Apprentice is a recent, big-budget series, and it comes off well on DVD, despite the fact that it was shot on video. Colors are strong, detail is good, and aside from a bit of aliasing on panning shots of the New York skyline, mastering artifacts are unobtrusive.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The original English 2.0 track is unexceptional, but adequate. Speech is always easy to make out and leveled nicely with the typically robust Burnett musical cues.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 64 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Apprentice: Season Two, The Contender
9 Deleted Scenes
8 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
5 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Candidates' clips, extended audition tapes, and final words
  2. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is music video
Extras Review: The Apprentice boasts an impressive list of bonus materials, but most of it won't take you long to get through. The majority of the eight featurettes are made up of pure fluff, and all run around four minutes. There is a bit that's worthwhile, though, if you wade through the crud.

Which I'll do first. As I said, there are eight featurettes, all housed on Disc 5. The best of the lot is Creating The Apprentice, a 7-minute piece with Mark Burnett and Donald Trump that features talk about the project's genesis and a Trump tour of the unfinished sets. Note that here, Trump (touting the show's success) claims 215,000 applied to be contestants, whereas... In Board of Directors, a 4-minute piece on Burnett, the creator claims just 50,000 applied. Who to believe? Hmmm... Trump gets in a bit more self-promotion in The Boss, his own 4-minute tribute to himself and his wonderfulness. Donaldisms collects four minutes of advice from the man, but it's really just the Trump's show-opening lessons from each episode strung together.

Someone else gets to talk, finally, with three minutes of tips on interviews and job applications in the 3-minute Insights and Advice from George and Carolyn. The Job Offer is a 3-minute interview reel with the final two contestants. Other contestants offer two minutes of advice in Advice. No, seriously. Finally, the 7-minute From 16 to One boils down the entire season into seven minutes of clips.

On to the good stuff: Candidates presents 2-minute reels of each contestant's proud, bizarre, and memorable moments. If you only watch one, watch Omarosa's, because the editors obviously hate her and it's hilarious. See more of the 16 applicants with 2 minutes each of extended application footage. Bootees get their say in Truth from a Taxi: The Final Words, with extra footage not seen on the air. There are also nine amusing deleted scenes totaling ten minutes, and some of the footage is very good (I like Amy and Bill practicing with their pedicab).

On the promotional side, there is a sneak peak at the currently airing Season 2 and a preview of the upcoming boxing series The Contender with Sylvester Stallone. There is also a teeth grindingly awful music video for Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, an annoying tune inspired by the show and intercut with sound bites from Trump. It sucks. Really, really sucks, and it plays over all the menus, too, so I'm extra sick of it. Note also that the theme that plays when the show airs has been deleted for DVD. The new one (Next Big Thing) is nowhere near as good, but I always skip the credits anyway, so it's not a big deal for me.

Each episode includes English subs and four chapter stops, save the double-length finale. The packaging is your pretty standard mix of cardboard and plastic, except the front has a flap that opens to reveal a picture of The Donald, and a tiny voice chip that says "You're fired!" If you open the flap repeatedly, it starts to sound like he's saying "You farted." And, can I just say, a gaudy, gold, talking DVD case might seem over the top to some, but for Trump, it's actually a little subdued.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

The following is a special message from The Donald:

Hi, I'm Donald Trump, and when I do something, I go all out. The Apprentice: The Complete First Season is a product worthy of the Trump name. It's the number one show on the number one format, outfitted with only the most lavish bonus materials, packaged in a luxurious slipcase that features the voice of me, Donald Trump, America's number one businessman and TV star. It's yooge, I guarantee it.


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