Pop Culture

Apprentices display male-pattern dumbness

When someone looks into a camera on a reality show and promises a certain outcome, you can be confident that whatever that person is promising will most definitely not happen.

After producing an ad campaign for Lamborghini, “Apprentice 4” candidate Mark looked into the camera and said, “I am guaranteeing a victory for the men. If we don’t win this task—there’s just no way. I won’t accept it. I’m guaranteeing the victory.”

Of course, after that statement, a victory would have been more likely than Carolyn acting out “Lord of the Flies” with Care Bears while Donald Trump sang the “Green Acres” theme song.(Okay, bad example for Trump.)

Excel team member Mark was confident even before the task began, noting that the men’s genitalia equipped them to produce an outstanding ad campaign. “The edge is to the men, because we understand the concept, we understand the product,” he said. “We’ve all dreamed of Lamborghinis since we were 10 years old.”

But the men’s eventual loss became the obvious outcome once the rest of the team joined Mark in his overconfidence. Carolyn pointed this out mid-task. “I think Excel Corporation is so in love with their idea that perhaps they’re so overly confident that they are going to miss some flaws, certainly some flaws that I saw,” she said.

They did miss some flaws, most notably that their campaign really sucked. While their commercial had an innovative concept—a classic Lamborghini changed into a new one while driving beneath an underpass—the execution after that moment was awkward, just a series of still images.

And the team’s print campaign made no sense. One ad said the car was the “rebirth of Italian intimidation,” which sounds like “Sopranos” ad copy, not the text from an ad promotion a high-end sports car. (They also, oddly, lowercased "Italian" but not "intimidation,") Another ad featuring a photograph of a green car declared that it was “green with envy.” The period following “envy” made the car itself envious, an idea that was lost to all but one team member, who everyone else ignored as if he were a geeky virgin freshmen and they were all-knowing stud seniors.

Markus the carcass
That person, Markus, has had a rough time throughout the entire competition. Markus has become the team jester, even being targeted by the show’s editors, who play dorky, childish, plodding music in the background whenever he’s on screen. , Trump made fun of him for babbling incoherently. This week, Trump pulled out the word “disaster” and applied it to Markus.

Markus also found himself pounced-upon by Trump when Markus did something pretty stupid. Instead of saving his criticism of his team for the boardroom, Markus jumped in immediately and started pointing fingers while the Lamborghini executives were evaluating his team’s performance.

This did not make Donald “weasels bother me, except for the one perched atop my head” Trump happy. “Does that sound like a team player to you?” he asked no one in particular.

Trump’s rebuke solidified Markus’ identity as the least masculine of the men, in the sense that he does not conform to (outdated, limiting) notions of how men should behave. That became clear last week when his entire team swallowed their tongues when he asked for feedback about his management skills. Men don’t ask other men how they’re doing, masculine ideals demand, and thus Markus’ teammates were appalled. This week, Josh basically unintentionally admitted that Markus was behaving more like a female than male. “You might even think he works with the women’s team,” Josh said, explaining that Markus had “a synapses disconnect in his brain.”

In the boardroom, Markus said, “From the very beginning, I was marginalized.” Notice that he didn’t say he was ignored or underutilized; he said he was marginalized, cast aside as weaker and judged to be insignificant because of his different approach.

Certainly, a lot of Markus’ behavior has been wacky, he doesn’t seem to work well with others, and his chances of ending up an employee of the Trump Organization are about as slim as Mary-Kate Olsen.

Still, even Trump couldn’t help but recognize that Markus was right in this instance, although he admitted that while criticizing Markus’ failing to be a team player like a real man.

“I hate it from a sense of loyalty, but he happened to be right, and you ended up losing,” Trump told project manager Chris.

Emotions over businessDespite being a very strong project manager throughout the task, Chris was fired because he completely refused to look past his hatred of Markus. In the boardroom, Trump warned Chris against nominating Markus for possible firing. “I’m really not sure that’s a wise thing to do, because he was the one person that said he didn’t like your campaign,” Trump said.

However, even if Trump had told Chris, “I’ll staple your hands to the table if you bring Markus back with you,” Chris would have done so, because he firmly believed that Markus was to blame. “He absolutely destroys team cohesiveness,” Chris said about Markus.

Then he continued to make sports-related comparisons, as if blind loyalty to others was an admirable trait.

But even Donald Trump, man among men, king of masculine warriors, wasn’t buying it. “I asked you to make a smart business decision and you made an emotional one. Markus was not the reason you lost this task,” he said.

Just before announcing that the women’s team was victorious, the female ad-agency executive said to her male colleague from Lamborghini, “Well, there’s a difference between men and women. Men say it; women feel it.”

As her remark suggests, women are often accused of acting solely upon emotional reflexes. But this “Apprentice” episode made it clear that blind, irrational, emotional responses may belong to men even more than they do to women.

is a writer and teacher who publishes reality blurred, a daily summary of realitt TV news.