'Apprentice' Ready for Round 5

The blood feud between Martha Stewart and Donald Trump evokes the same feelings as, say, Iran attacking North Korea. But there is something important to keep in mind. It erupted less than a week before the fifth edition of Trump's "The Apprentice" premieres in a new time period Monday (Feb. 27). Each of the past three has produced lower ratings than its predecessor. Shows switching nights almost always lose audience, and another such decline could allow Stewart to turn the tables and lecture Trump on what went wrong with his show.

This is why it's noteworthy that The Donald, a master at media manipulation, has done the nastiest mud slinging, including a mean-spirited reference to the stock deal that sent Martha to jail. The worst thing Stewart said was that she'd been told Trump's "Apprentice" would disappear when NBC launched her version. She's either delusional or in denial. There was never a hint that this was the plan of either NBC or Trump. On the contrary, NBC ballyhooed how the two series would complement each other, as if they were "Law & Order" or "CSI" franchises.

It's possible producer Mark Burnett might have given Stewart this impression. Burnett, who also has "Survivor" on his resume, is renowned for saying whatever suits his purposes at a given moment.

Not that Trump isn't known to bend reality. As recently as last week, he claimed on "Extra" that "The Apprentice" is the No. 1 show on TV. Close -- it's 38th.

If Trump's antics lead viewers to the new time slot, then Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney Brent Buckman might give the series the booster shot it needs. Brent is the most polarizing would-be Apprentice since Omarosa became a household name.

Brent isn't as off-putting as Omarosa was, but he quickly becomes an irritant to fellow contestants. The cameras love it, giving him almost as much face time as The Donald.

While others are identified by captions with their names, this becomes quickly superfluous with Brent. "I stand out from the crowd," he acknowledges. His claims to fame include inventing a diet that allowed him to lose 110 pounds. However, he is still stout, and his unkempt hairstyle gives him a constantly disheveled look even in coat and tie.

A Type-AAA personality, he's outspoken, with an opinion on everything, and is loaded with ideas. But he maintains he is a true team player. There's merit to this -- just as long as the team does things his way.

When his team needs a name, he jumps right in. The opening-night task is to sell memberships to Sam's Club; he also weighs in assertively on this. If acting like a lunatic will advance the cause, he's willing to do that, too.

An annoyed teammate labels him "a walking disaster."

At one point, Trump also calls him "a total disaster." Perhaps so, but if there is any contestant capable of keeping "The Apprentice" from becoming a total disaster, Brent is the guy. He would be the first to tell you that.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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