Eyes wide shut: Blagojevich faced Trump in the boardroom in his fourth—and final—episode.
Ex-gov dismissed for napping at work and other misdemeanors.
Last night’s episode started, as it always does, with Donald Trump asking each team to choose its project leader, but, in a twist, he did not describe the task first. Michael Johnson snapped to the opportunity, immediately nominating Rod Blagojevich for the men; Selita Ebanks stepped up for the women. Blago and Ebanks found out they would not get more information until after they were separated from their teams.
Chaffeured to the airport in the early morning darkness, the pair passed their time in limbo together. In the limousine, the ex-Gov said to the Victoria’s Secret model, "You’ve got a little chip on your shoulder because you’re beautiful and you don’t want people to think you’re dumb." Ebanks seemed a little startled by the comment. They boarded Trump’s private jet and set off for Florida; Trump appeared on a video screen to finally give them their task: Each team had to create an interactive 3-D informational display promoting the theme-park attraction The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando. They were told they could not use their cell phones during the flight, and then the problems—for Blagojevich—began.
Once again, Blago was techno-challenged. For a few minutes, he did try to use his laptop, staring at the start-up screen of his Mac and even turning it upside down, perhaps looking for magic instructions on the bottom. But then, realizing it was pointless, he ordered a small fruit tart from the flight attendant. Back in New York, the wrestler Goldberg said to the camera, "If Rod has to send an e-mail today, I sure as hell hope there’s a homing pigeon around somewhere." No such luck.
Upon their arrival, Blago struggled with his cell phone, which he called "this thing," but finally he was in communication—if you could call it that—with his team. He asked them what a 3-D display was, then he put rocker Bret Michaels in charge of overseeing the fabrication of the set. When Michaels asked for direction, Blago told him to use his own judgment. "We will not win or lose because of texting or e-mail," said Blago to the camera. "[If we end up in the boardroom], that’ll just be an excuse to point fingers."
After listening to executives from Universal Studios explain the challenge, the two team leaders looked at models of castles, loaded their duffle bags with Harry Potter swag, and headed back to the airport. "Should the display be a walk-in or an open arrangement?" Michaels asked Blago on one last phone call before the Trump jet took off for New York. "What do you think?" Blago shot back. Now that’s how you delegate. Then, wearing sunglasses, the men’s project manager took a nap.
When the ex-Gov walked into the warehouse where the 3-D display was being built, Michaels was percolating all over the place and Goldberg was trying to help. Chef Curtis Stone and Johnson were so busy eating lunch they barely acknowledged their returned manager. Even the often clueless Blagojevich picked up the big chill. When it came to writing a script for the presentation to the judging panel of Potter fans and the Universal execs, Blago rejected committing anything to paper, instead telling his team to "improv." "He’s a governor," Curtis said to Johnson disgustedly. "It’s fucking unbelievable." "It is what it is," answered Johnson.
It turned out to be another loss for the men’s team—RockSolid’s interactive presentation featured Michaels as the display’s rather lackadaisical barker; Goldberg as a living, talking tree; and Blagojevich as the Hogwarts headmaster making house assignments using the famous Sorting Hat. In the end, the men lost because many of their Harry Potter facts were scrambled. (This in spite of the fact that the women were at each other’s throats—at one point, Sharon Osbourne told her team that without Cyndi Lauper the group would be "as boring as watching ice melt.") "Rod was good," Goldberg told Trump. "It was the nature of the task that put him behind the eight ball." Goldberg was right: Once Blago had to do something—anything—he was lost.
Trump quizzed Ebanks about the flight back from Orlando and she described how she spent her time constructively watching a promotional Harry Potter DVD on her computer. "And what was Rod doing?" Trump asked. She giggled. "He was sleeping." Jumping to his own defense, Blago said, "I did have my sunglasses on, so maybe my eyes were open." Good point, Gov.
Blago announced he would bring Johnson and Stone back to the boardroom with him, even as he admitted that Michaels had been in charge of the creative end. "Why not bring Bret back, then?" Trump asked. "I just couldn’t do that," he said. Maybe Stone and Johnson should have stopped eating long enough to say hello when Blago came back from Florida. When the three returned to the boardroom, Trump addressed Blago. "So, Governor, you’ve proven you have a lot of fight," he said. "You’ve proven that for years, [and] you’ve certainly proven that now. But you lost."
"I know we lost, but you could also say they won," countered Blago. You could also say "You’re fired," and finally, after four weeks of watching Blago flounder, Trump did say it. And, so went the end of Blago’s tragicomic run on The Celebrity Apprentice. After the ex-Gov left the room, Trump turned to his two assistants and said, "I feel badly for him. He tried, but I feel badly. It’s pretty sad."
We know how Trump feels. Now we’ll have to find a new way to get laughs on Sunday nights.
WHAT OTHER BLAGO WATCHERS THOUGHT, PLUS SOME HANDY LINKS
- The Chicago Tribune recap by television columnist Maureen Ryan.
- NBC Chicago weighs in with this recap by Edward McClelland.
- USA Today takes note in a post by entertainment reporter Ann Oldenburg.
- The ew.com recap by Dalton Ross.
- The NBC website for The Celebrity Apprentice.
- Hulu’s streaming-video channel for the show, with episode trailers, clips, and full episodes.
Photograph: Ali Goldstein/NBC