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Disclaimer: The following thoughts and observations have been written by me at least twenty-to-thirty times over the course of my however many years working at Cinema Blend. Up to this point, each similar diatribe has been scribbled down in reference to a movie gone horribly wrong. Well played, Donald Trump. Only you could somehow screw a reality show up so badly that I could employ the same critique I used to bash Rio in defense of LaToya Jackson.

There are rules to creating successful programming, edicts and orders that have nothing to do with believability, and the rule to these aforementioned rules is that you must follow them. It doesn’t matter what they are, but once they’re set forth, they must be obeyed. There is no greater good that allows you to break said rules because once they’re broken, there’s no fundamental base to hold the show up. The credibility is gone, even if you broke the rule in the first place to try and maintain credibility.

This week on Celebrity Apprentice LaToya Jackson was fired despite the fact that she did absolutely nothing wrong in the challenge itself. Both teams were terrible, Coke II-level terrible, but the women failed harder, faster and stronger, leading to a boardroom showdown with Nene, project manager Star and LaToya Jackson. The whole design and direction of the challenge was crafted by Star. Nene headed a photoshoot that went disastrously, and LaToya shut her mouth and ran errands for the team. Unquestionably, the women lost because of Star’s misguided aims, but after both Nene and Star called LaToya out for being the weakest team member, Trump fired her, rationalizing it through the seldom used everyone was so bad why not fire the worst player logic.

Without question, LaToya is a weaker player than Star and Nene. She’s not assertive. She’s occasionally scatter-brained, and she constantly bitches that the whole world is out to get her. The women would have been screwed if they lost Star or Nene, as The Donald pointed out, but if we’re suddenly firing, not on the basis of the challenge at hand but on overall incompetence, why the hell wasn’t Gary Busey fired either of the weeks every single one of his team members called him out as the worst player? If anything, the men were actually more aggressive in their demands to be rid of Busey, but Trump ignored those please and axed Mark McGrath and Richard Hatch, two of the stronger competitors on the entire show. For shame, Trump. For shame.

The Celebrity Apprentice Power Rankings are a combination of ordered lists compiled by Cinema Blend writers Mack Rawden and Jessica Grabert. Sixteen points are given for a first place vote, and this week, ten was given for a last place vote. Nine contestants have already been eliminated; thus, they automatically occupy the bottom slots. Here’s a look at how the voting played out…

Celebrity Apprentice
The Favorites

#1) John Rich (32): Despite the fact that his team won, John Rich was very poor this week as project manager. In fact, his leadership was easily the weakest we’ve seen all season. Meatloaf didn’t understand his orders on the photo shoot, there were numerous spelling errors in the pamphlet he approved, and the overall concept the men employed was mediocre at best. Lucky for him not one single person on either team performed better than below-average. This week’s episode was like one of those random years at the British Open where the wind howls like a scorned woman and even par miraculously holds serve for the ultimate victory. Shoddy leadership likely won’t fare as well next week, but a win is a win is a win.

#2) Star Jones (29): What Star makes up for in exertion and efficiency, she totally loses in the creativity department. I mean, what the fuck, this week she forced her teammates to chime out random catch phrases to define ‘luxury’ in a meeting with Trump Hotels. It sounded more like kindergartners who hadn’t figured out how to stay with the group during the Pledge of Allegiance. Star’s whole concept was ridden with overdone ideas that left gaping holes when it came time to present. Even worse, she didn’t seem to be overly aware of her shortcomings as an advertiser. Star still makes the top half of this list because she has a spark, a need to be on top, and a work ethic many of the other contestants just don’t have. We expect her to stay on top, but if she doesn’t keep her creative shortcomings under control, we could have a very different ball game.

#3) Marlee Matlin (28): Easily the most noteworthy thing that happened to Marlee this week was teammate Nene Leakes calling her the best remaining woman in front of Trump in the boardroom. Our Power Rankings don’t reflect that, but both writers here would certainly agree she’s by far the most professional and likeable lady left in the field. If the women are smart, they’ll go with her next week as project manager. If they’re feeling frisky, they’ll go with Nene, and if the challenge involves seducing men, they’ll go with Hope.

#4) Lil Jon (27): If Lil Jon were on a football team, he would be the receiver who runs very technically precise routes but is worthless if the play devolves and requires scrambling around like headless chickens. He’s always more than willing to do any work assigned, but the chances of him finding something to do on his own are minimal. He knew Meatloaf was off base with the photography this week. He was positive. He even brought it up to John Rich, but then he was talked out of doing anything about it in a total of thirty seconds. Do you really think Star or Nene would be dissuaded from fixing an impending disaster in less than a minute? I doubt it.

celebrity apprentice
The Contenders

#5) Nene Leakes (24): Nene’s been a disgruntled wildcat ready to pounce for the past few weeks. Her behavior stems from an initial fight with Dionne, and then was exacerbated when she had disagreements with LaToya and later, Star. Her troubles dealing with other contestants could already have sent her home. But her ability to be up front with issues has made her important with Trump in the boardroom. This week, Nene was the straw that broke the camel’s back in sending LaToya home. What’s impressive about this strength is she could have chosen to ax Star if she had used her less-than-careful words differently. Nene isn’t afraid to make enemies, but she’s whiny and not the sharpest player left. We’ll see, but Cinema Blend is betting Nene pounces on the wrong prey at some point.

#6) Hope Dworaczyk (21): This week, Hope had two contributions. First, she was halfway naked for a bathtub photo. Second, Trump called her quiet and she protested she wasn’t. Even if she isn’t as quiet on the tasks and is halfway decent as a project manager, she’s really been closer to a non-presence than a potential winner as a whole. Last week, we saw Hope step up for the first time all season. If she really wanted a chance to compete in the final task she would have proved she could capably be at the forefront two weeks in a row. Instead, she’s played like she’s Marlee’s shadow. She might as well play dead.

#6) Meatloaf (21): Meatloaf really tries. He shows up, he works hard, and he’s got some pretty interesting ideas. However, he’s the guy you go to for help with a PTA meeting. He’s not the guy you go to in order to run the PTA meeting. He’s certainly not the guy you go to in order to complete a business task. His first challenge as the leader proved this theory. It will be Meatloaf's second turn as task manager very soon. If Jon and John don’t win the task for him, the challenge will likely be Meatloaf’s ticket home. It’s been a good ride, buddy, but you really can’t compete with a business loving, musical cowboy or a zany rapper with outside-the-box ideas.

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

John Rich (16)
Star Jones (15)
Lil Jon (14)
Marlee Matlin (13)
Nene Leakes (12)
Meatloaf (11)
Hope Dworaczyk (10)
John Rich (16)
Marlee Matlin (15)
Star Jones (14)
Lil Jon (13)
Nene Leakes (12)
Hope Dworaczyk (11)
Meatloaf (10)

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