Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Apprentice - Jan 06, 2007

Sunday; NBC, Global


Back to business

Like a lot of reality shows, The Apprentice simply got boring. Maybe as new setting and a few new twists can keep the show from getting fired.

By Eric Kohanik

The trouble with a lot of reality-TV shows is the novelty tends to wear off quickly.

And when that happens, frankly, they just get boring.

So, it then becomes imperative for producers to reinvent the wheel. They do anything they can to keep it rolling.

That's exactly the point we're at as host Donald Trump and 18 new competitors get back to business on The Apprentice, which begins its sixth season – yes sixth season - on sunday night.

This time around, The Apprentice has switched home base, forsaking its traditional digs inside New York City's Trump Tower for the sunnier surroundings of southern California and a luxurious mansion that will be home for the show's competitors.

Well, some of them.

According to NBC, the show's plan for this season calls for a "social experiment of haves and have-nots." To accomplish that, each week's winners will get to live like kings and queens - er, make that Trumps and Trumpettes - inside the opulent mansion.

The losers? They have to camp in tents out in the backyard. They also have to use outdoor showers and portable toilets.

Aw, poor babies!

Yes, this is as gimmicky as TV gets. But then, The Apprentice and inventive executive producer Mark Burnett really do need every gimmick imaginable to reinvigorate waning interest in the show.

I truly devoured the debut season of The Apprentice. I watched it religiously, not only because I had been assigned to review each episode, but also because the concept was fresh and different. Plus, Trump's signature line - "You're fired!" - had not yet become the hackneyed expression it now is.

With each subsequent season, however, The Apprentice just became less and less interesting. In part, it was because we had been there, seen it. And, in part, it seemed that, more and more, all we were doing was watching one big commercial for The Trump Organization's assorted ventures. Topping off that feeling was the show's tiresome practice of suckling on the nipples of other corporate logos and product placements.

Now, The Apprentice is promising a bunch of "engaging" new twists. The winning project managers get to keep that role until their team loses. They also get to sit in the boardroom and advise Trump on which member of the losing team should be canned.

Whether all of this is enough to bolster the sagging fortunes of The Apprentice remains to be seen. If not, it might just be the show that ends up getting fired.

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