Team harmony has never single-handedly won a Celebrity Apprentice challenge before, but when everyone is on the same page, it makes putting forth a solid effort so much easier. It’s that extra little five percent. If all available hands contribute, that’s another dozen or so ideas to weed through. Often, one of them can be the key to victory. This week was a great example of that.

While the men all congealed behind the surprisingly excellent leadership of Lil Jon, the women continued their bitching and finger pointing. Project manager Nene Leakes, distrustful of LaToya, Hope and most of all, Dionne, only delegated tasks to Marlee and Star. The challenge was to make a thirty second commercial for a new video phone. Nene directed. Marlee acted. Star put together the presentation. Combined, the other three picked out a few props, kept track of the time and chatted amongst themselves. Dionne didn’t even bother staying for the editing session. In the end, that likely would have cost her, had she not essentially eliminated herself with some passive-aggressive bullshit in the boardroom.

The women need to get it together, and they need to do it fast. The men are lumbering forward like a well-oiled machine. They’re confident, determined and full of that extra five percent team harmony. This week’s Power Rankings reflect that. The men hold four of the top six slots and six of the top nine.

The Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings are an averaging of ordered lists compiled by Cinema Blend writers Mack Rawden and Jessica Grabert. Sixteen points are awarded for a first place vote, and this week, five was given for a last place vote. Four contestants have already been eliminated. They automatically occupy the bottom four slots. Here’s a look at how this week shook down…

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The Favorites

#1) John Rich (32): It was a quiet week for the country singer who’s spent the most time at the top of the Power Rankings, but he maintained his stranglehold for one very important reason. He strongly disagreed with the direction Lil Jon took the challenge, but after he stated his case and was outvoted, he put his head down and continued to work for the good of the team. How many times this season have we seen someone offer an opposing viewpoint and not let the damn thing go? The musician still needs to prove himself as a leader, but until that opportunity comes, there’s very little he could do to improve.

#2) Star Jones (29): Star is polished, she’s a great delegator, and this week she proved she could be agreeable…if she sees fit. Actually, this week was the first time audiences didn’t have to enjoy the “Star Show,” a combination of Star snide and super domineering side comments. The women still lost this week, but the competition was a lot closer than it has been, largely because Star wasn’t stirring the pot. Like Richard Hatch, Star isn’t the most easily likeable person to ever grace the Trump Building’s halls, but she is one of the most competent. If she continues to fight when it is easy and tread carefully when she could be crushed, she’ll certainly do well. The only thing that could work against her is her apparentness on the women’s team. One misstep could land anyone on the elevator home, and Star must be more cautious than most.

#3) Mark McGrath (28): If you don’t count Gary Busey’s incessant talking, Mark McGrath is definitely the most energetic contestant on the guys’ team. This quality is a lot more important than you might realize, especially when it comes to men. Women can get excited at the drop of a hat. They’re always polishing the little things and making sure the details are right. Men are more big picture people. The down side to that is often times, they’ll hammer out the crux of what’s going on and then silently go about their business. Mark McGrath keeps the fire alive. He worries, he fusses and at the end of it all, is an essential part of the men putting out a great product.

#4) Richard Hatch (24): Richard’s biggest contribution this week was probably advising the team to use Jose Canseco as the gay dude surprise in their commercial. That one worked out pretty well, kinda like the shrubbery he was hellbent on getting for the camper challenge. You don’t need to be the project manager, you don’t need to be the loudest voice, you just need to fundamentally contribute in some way during each task. Richard won’t be up for project manager again at least for a few more weeks, but if he keeps up this work level, there’s little doubt he’ll get there.

#4) Marlee Matlin (24): Marlee was part of the triumphant triumvirate (I know that term technically denotes three men, but just roll with the word play) during the challenge this week. LaToya, Hope, and Dionne were all nearly non-presences, but Nene, Marlee, and Star actually had their shit together. Marlee was not only the star of the team, she was also the star of the women’s commercial, featuring a young girl communicating with her mother over satellite video phone. Unfortunately, the guys won the audience over with comedy, so the idea behind Marlee’s performance didn’t shine out in the boardroom. At this point, Marlee’s capabilities as a task master and an Academy Award winning actress have been clearly defined. We haven’t seen what she can do as a project manager, but if it is anything like what she has produced so far, Marlee will certainly stick around.

the hobbit
The Contenders

#6) Lil Jon (23): Richard Hatch’s comments, along with the faces and smiles of all his teammates, said it all during the boardroom. Lil Jon was wonderful during his first opportunity as project manager. It took a calculated gamble to make the final product far more edgy than the executives had imagined, but once he took that stage like firecracker and got everyone on their feet, there seemed little doubt which team would win. Employing key buzzwords like viral, he had the crowd hanging on his every word. The only ultimate surprise was that the men only won with a narrow margin. Still, that’s all that matters in retrospect, that and the glowing endorsements of his underlings who couldn’t find one negative thing to say about the rapper in the boardroom.

#7) Nene Leakes (22): Nene Leakes didn’t really come out of the woodwork this week. She’s been a noticeable presence since day 1, blatantly throwing out weird euphemisms and an independent attitude. I was a little worried for her as a taskmaster, but other than her podium speaking skills, she came through pretty well. Though many of the women on her team were loose cannons, she managed to invest enough of the people surrounding her that the task was pulled off with barely a hitch. The women ended up losing, but it was really close. Taking a risk paid off for the men; however, since Nene was able to successfully defend her decisions and her vision, sending Dionne home in her place, I think the task paid off for the women as well. Grumpy old women mired in their own bullshit are the worst kind of excess baggage. With that said, Nene played the hero this week.

#8) Meatloaf (18): Meatloaf has behaved so kindly this season it doesn’t seem possible he’ll have the drive to go anywhere. He’s likely higher on these Power Rankings than some for two reasons: First, he is a worker, and he minds his own business while working. Second, he’s already been a project manager, and is unlikely to be in the hot seat in the boardroom for a while, as long as he doesn’t fuck something up majorly. I would entertain an argument that Meatloaf has the capability to sneak through to the final, except for one issue. Meatloaf doesn’t defend himself well under pressure. Under the smarmy watch of Donald Trump, he crumbles like poorly executed piecrust. The men’s team is (mostly) tough. Meatloaf is not tough. Do the math.

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The Dark Horses

#9) Gary Busey (15): Gary Busey brings a lot to the table. Unfortunately, he takes quite a bit off as well. He’s like the world’s worst sous chef. You could send him to the refrigerator to get butter, and he’s liable to come back with mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are great, don’t get me wrong, but depending on what you’re cooking, their addition may be entirely pointless. This week, Gary wasted obscene amounts of time trying to get in his character’s head. Question after question about motivations and goals, all for a thirty second spot where he’d be playing a grandfather. That’s him taking things off the table, but when it came time to shoot, he contributed exactly what was needed. Plus a dick flash. Is that addition or subtraction?

#9) Hope Dworaczyk (15): I get so pissed over Hope’s weekly Playboy pout, my boyfriend told me he’d pay me $100 bucks if I’d rip out some hair every time she gets up to that bullshit. The brutality of her silly femininity really gets to me. If I keep it up, I’ll probably be bald by the end of the season. Just kidding, I would never take that bet, but not because I’m scared of going bald. Just because I’m certain Hope is on her way out, and losing hair is never worth 100 bucks (Silly Rabbit, that won’t even pay for the cut and color to fix it). Hope isn’t last in these Power Rankings, and she may not go home in week five, but a woman with a limited vocabulary and an unfortunate tendency to mix up her centuries—usually followed by a comment lacking in sincerity—is really going nowhere. Just not quite fast enough for my liking.

#11) LaToya Jackson (11): LaToya is O.K. at defending herself, but she’s not really bringing much to the table besides outrageous fashion and too-bright face makeup. Sure, you can put her to random tasks and she will complete them, however this performance is not particularly satisfying. It’s like when you are babysitting a group of kids and one of them doesn’t have the skill set to play with the group, nor figure out something on his or her own, so you give them a menial task to keep them busy while you work with the group. LaToya is the random child who doesn’t really fit. I’d love to say she’s the random child that works better on her own, but that isn’t the case. She’s the timekeeper or the TV showcase model—and just like her role as part of the Jackson family, she’s always being overshadowed by someone else.

#11) Jose Canseco (11): I like Jose, the team player, a lot better than Jose, the shit-starter, but God only knows how long this recent spell of team-first contributions might last. Thus far, the former slugger has contributed a little here and there. With twelve people left, that’s all you need to do to keep advancing, but four weeks from now, when we’re down to eight, each competitor becomes integral to the ultimate success or failure of his or her team. At that point, it’s probably advisable not to be taking naps on the goddamn RV during the challenge. Unless Busey is once again project manager. Then it’s encouraged.

Here’s a look at how each of the two ballots shook out:


Mack:
John Rich (16)
Mark McGrath (15)
Star Jones (14)
Lil Jon (13)
Richard Hatch (12)
Nene Leakes (11)
Marlee Matlin (10)
Meatloaf (9)
Hope Dworaczyk (8)
Gary Busey (7)
Jose Canseco (6)
LaToya Jackson (5)
Jessica:
John Rich (16)
Star Jones (15)
Marlee Matlin (14)
Mark McGrath (13)
Richard Hatch (12)
Nene Leakes (11)
Lil Jon (10)
Meatloaf (9)
Gary Busey (8)
Hope Dworaczyk (7)
LaToya Jackson (6)
Jose Canseco (5)

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