Arnold Schwarzenegger is back. The former California governor premiered in his new role on NBC’s “The New Celebrity Apprentice” Monday night, replacing President-Elect (and executive producer) Donald Trump as host.
It’s now up to Schwarzenegger to keep the “Celebrity Apprentice” franchise alive. On Monday’s show, he didn’t have the huge personality and presence of the president-elect — and, at times, his accent was so thick subtitles would have been helpful.
But for the most part, Schwarzenegger proved as tough and fair as Trump, and demonstrated he has the ability and wherewithal to carry the show forward. He had Trump’s impatience with non-answers to his questions down pat. He sought to create some drama, but had little interest in fighting among the contestants.
“You guys are ducking more questions than Congress,” he said to one of the contestants. Later, when he was interrupted and not hearing what he wanted to hear, he said to one of the women, “No talk.”
The teams were divided by gender, with TV personality Brooke Burke-Charvet, former WNBA player Lisa Leslie, reality TV stars Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Porsha Williams, singer Carnie Wilson (of Wilson Phillips), YouTube star Carrie Keagan, former child actress Kyle Richards, and retired pro boxing champion Laila Ali on the women’s side.
For the men, there was stylist Carson Kressley, who brought the snark; singer Boy George, who contributed a lot of eye rolls; comedian Jon Lovitz, who got weird — plus mixed martial-arts competitor Chael Sonnen, former NFL players Eric Dickerson and Ricky Williams, American Ninja Warrior host Matt Iseman, and Motley Crüe singer Vince Neil.
The men’s team was far more creative and enthusiastic than the women. The conversation where Lovitz pitched English pop star Boy George an idea about highlighting the bad teeth of Brits was priceless. Boy George seemed impatient at times and hungry to win. But it also appears the days of beating male escorts are behind him, replaced by a clean and sober pop star who is now getting the break he has worked for by being on the NBC show.
Boy George’s sobriety did wear on his colleagues when, at one point, he whined about being around alcohol and was told, “You can’t put your sobriety on everyone else.”
There has been much hype in recent weeks over how Arnold would go about dismissing candidates. “You’re fired,” obviously, has been taken.
Snooki admitted she was a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience.
It fell to Carrie Keagan to be the first to hear Schwarzenegger’s signature line. “Carrie, you’re terminated,” he told her. “Get to the chopper!”
It’s not “Hasta la vista” — but “you’re terminated” will work.
Not even Carnie Wilson could use her musical gifts to bail out the women’s team. They were unfocused and made too many mistakes. They even shot their video commercial for one project sideways with the wrong camera angle. In the end, she couldn’t even save herself and was the next one eliminated in the two-hour special.
The stars seemed to believe they had real leadership skills. Most impressive were the stars who readily admitted their strengths and weaknesses instead of faking that they knew what they were doing.
Schwarzenegger provided an intimidating environment on the show. Many of the celebrities looked like deer in the headlights as they were asked to do tasks. When reality star Porsha Williams tried to throw fellow reality star “Snooki” Polizzi under the bus, Snooki admitted she was a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience.
With the new host’s intense facial expressions and the judges looking on critically, it was not easy for some of the contestants. But the men embraced every project confidently and took on one project about facial makeup with enthusiasm. Kressley’s sass made the show even better.