Fundraising challenges are simultaneously rewarding and infuriating. Rewarding because obscene amounts of money are raised for worthy causes; infuriating because the most effective team doesn’t always win. Look no further than this season’s first episode for an indication of that. Project manager Richard Hatch clearly ran the more polished business. The men stayed open the whole time, had a clear strategy and everyone on the team knew his role. The women, on the other hand, were a disorganized mess, botching a free thirty-five thousand dollars because they couldn’t deliver the pizza on time. Yet, because project manager Star Jones had better connections, they ultimately proved victorious.

This week, the gap was far less pronounced. Of course, it still came down to connections, but with project managers John Rich and Marlee Matlin both running a tight ship and each raising more than five hundred thousand dollars, it’s impossible to knock on either one. Unfortunately for the cowboy, the men didn’t raise enough, but after Jose Canseco went home due to a family illness, it seemed like the men would escape largely unscathed. Not so. Trump gave the women a choice to not eliminate anyone, and Marlee, going for the throat, decided the girls wanted another boy gone. I can’t disagree with her rationale, and something tells me the eliminated and always savvy Richard Hatch would begrudgingly agree. Celebrity Apprentice might be about raising money for charity, but it’s also about winning. Get ‘em out while you can.

The Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings are a combination of ordered lists put together by Cinema Blend writers Mack Rawden and Jessica Grabert. Sixteen points are awarded for a first place vote, and this week, seven were given for a last place vote. Six contestants have been eliminated or left; therefore, they automatically occupy the bottom slots. Here’s a look at how this week shook down…

Celebrity Apprentice
The Favorites

#1) John Rich (32): It seemed bizarre John Rich would take project manager on an art gallery project, since his talents lie mainly in the musical realm. Turns out he has big connections and capable delegation skills, so the challenge fed right into his strengths. Who knew the man behind “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” could solicit an art piece for $470,000 bucks? I didn’t. Though that could be why I’m not country strong. In any event, Rich pulled out the big guns and worked like a damn hoss. The men were finished setting up before the women even showed up at their space. They were great salesmen, too. With Jose Conseco heading home and strong contender Richard Hatch being fired, this week was one hell of a shame for a man who did what needed to be done.

#2) Star Jones (30): Star took a little flack from her teammates, especially Nene, this week after she chose to man the phones rather than mingle with the potential art buyers, but seeing as how she collected the bulk of her team’s nine hundred plus thousand that way, I think she’d do the same in retrospect. Star is, above all else, professional. She’s gonna take orders, process them quickly and move on. Sweet talking random people with her sometimes abrasive personality isn’t going to happen, but put her in a situation which requires competence, and she’ll be at her most valuable. I’m still not convinced she can lead a team, but as a number two, there might not be anyone better left in the competition.

#3) Marlee Matlin (28): What a great week for Marlee! Outside of fatefully deciding to leave for the gallery an hour or so too late, she managed and delegated thoroughly and effectively, leading to her teammates raving about her leadership in the boardroom. John Rich raised more money than anyone ever had in the history of Celebrity Apprentice, and Marlee still kicked his ass. Some of that is, yes, largely due to who you know, but more than anything else, the actress proved she’s assertive and capable enough to lead the charge. Her turn as project manager won’t come back around for awhile, but when it does, you can assume she’ll be just as deadly.

the hobbit
The Contenders

#4) Mark McGrath (25): Mark has been cracking up my shit the last few weeks with his goofy, childish antics. In just the last few weeks, he’s fretted and paced over Gary Busey’s lack of leadership, taped a mock episode of Cribs with Lil Jon in the women’s empty studio and tried to calm Meatloaf down before he blew a fuse. The latter attempt was a miserable failure, but you have to be glad he at least tried. About the only thing he hasn’t given a go is project managing, but as the only remaining male holdout, he should get his opportunity this coming week. Let’s hope there’s a halo hanging from the corner of his four post bed after he’s done.

#5) Lil Jon (24): You know what I like about Lil Jon? He’s remarkably honest. This week when John Rich pointed to him in the boardroom as the team’s second best fundraiser, he quickly turned and gave credit to Mark McGrath as being neck in neck or possibly outraising him. Neither of them were going home, but it’s those little things that foster goodwill amongst a team. He already proved he can lead men into battle last week, but as each task goes by, Lil Jon also asserts himself as a capable player willing to do the grunt work it takes to win. It may not be crunk, but it’s not less needed.

#6) Nene Leakes (23): We didn’t see much of Nene this week. Dionne’s bitchy vocalizations worked the opposite of the jaws of life and sucked the energy right out of Nene last week, and while she raised some money and all, she wasn’t a huge creative force. Her biggest input in the art gallery task was bringing around the whiny bitch with the Brooklyn Dodger accent from one of the other Bravo reality Desperate Housewives shows, leaving us with the question: Do people from these shows really all socialize with each other? As Bill Hader’s Stefon would say, “This answers the question: What??!!??”

the hobbit
The Dark Horses

#7) Meatloaf (20): Did people know Meatloaf had an anger management problem before this week? If not for Celebrity Apprentice, he might have managed his whole life without that information blowing up all over the Internet. Alas, it was not to be. In a fit of anger, the Loaf accused Gary Busey of stealing art supplies (unjustly? Who knows with Busey). I thought for a while there might be a WWE Smackdown in the art space, the drama was so droll. I could see Meatloaf attempting a banzai drop. It helped the musician’s case he later humbly apologized, and created some of the more innovative artwork of the night. Otherwise, I’m certain the situation would have been more under fire in the boardroom. Meatloaf survives, like a bat out of hell.

#8) Gary Busey (18): I’m surprised Gary Busey didn’t make the most money last night. Who wouldn’t pay beaucoup bucks for an imbecilic rendition of a bison surrounded by green grass? You’re really paying for the Busey signature. That, my friend, is priceless. I’m also surprised Gary survived last night. His entire team agreed he was the weakest player and pushed strongly for him to go. If it wasn’t for Marlee Matlin adequately supporting the man, it seems like Busey had the best chance of getting booted. Speaking of that WTF Marlee Matlin? If your theory was to keep Gary and send a more competent player home, that was a damn fine strategy, but I somehow doubt you have the capacity to think that way. You can’t play “business” and force Trump to fire someone and then pull the emotional card. Boo whore. Gary, your cards weren’t up this week. But you will be going home.

#9) LaToya Jackson (15): I’ve never seen a woman work so hard to make herself needed. Ha. Seriously though, LaToya stepped up this week, donating a t-shirt Michael had approved for the cause. She also won the hat contest, which sent money to her charity. Even though LaToya has big connections for fundraising, I still think she’s going to have trouble when it is her turn as project manager, because she hasn’t won Star over. We all know if Star doesn’t respect a contestant, her name will start spelling trouble. It’s some weird voodoo shit. I like LaToya, she’s certainly proved she is a hard worker and I hope she’ll stick around for a while. For all her emotional baggage, she deserves it.

#9) Hope Dworaczyk (15): Remember when I called Hope my favorite dark horse? That might not have been the smartest thing I’ve ever written. In fact, it may have been idiotic. At first, I took her lack of speaking as a sign that some great and mysterious plan was lingering below the surface, but now I’m pretty sure she just despises confrontation almost as much as taking on responsibility. Do something, Hope. Please. Say what you will about LaToya, but at least she did something in the RV challenge no one else was prepared to. Thus far, Hope’s just sat in the corner, eschewing cries for help and desperately trying to figure out which century she’s living in.

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


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

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