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Which Apprentice will Trump them all?

And then there were five. Twelve weeks ago, the teams of “The Apprentice 3”  were split by education level, a division that has completely faded away. During that time, some excelled and others collapsed. This group has been full of surprises. In particular, there have been a number of “disasters,” as Donald Trump is fond of calling them.

By now, we know that Trump is fond of ditching the project managers, who in the past has left the most competent individuals behind. (Don’t expect this to change: Donald Trump told TV Guide earlier this week, “If a project fails, generally speaking, the team leader is responsible. The project manager has a huge advantage, too—if they win, they’re exempt the next week. But if they lose, as in life, they’ll always be the most likely candidate to be fired.”)

While Stephanie, Audrey, Tara, Kristen, Danny, Brian, and Todd were all project manager victims, none quite matched the competence of fired “Apprentice 2” project manager Pamela or some of her colleagues. This season, many of the project managers and non-leaders who’ve gone home have been pretty hard-core losers (Danny, Michael, John, Erin to name just a few).

We’re left now with a group that is, as a whole, not that impressive. (While Chris was finally fired this week, it’s pretty appalling that he made it this far.) But among the candidates who remain, there are a few stars. Here’s a completely unscientific survey of the five candidates who remain and their chances at taking it all. And no need to go running to wager your paycheck based upon these numbers—or to pull out your calculator to see if they work out mathematically, you dork; this is all just for fun.

ChrisOdds: 0:0

Bottom line: He got fired. Unless there’s some freakish twist, like that “Survivor” outcast tribe, he’s finished.

Chris lost seven times, and his continued presence could only really have been because his tobacco-chewing, voice-raising behavior made for excellent television. (Recall fondly the episode where he felt the need to confirm his heterosexuality in the boardroom, or the half-dozen times when he nearly had a stroke because he was yelling so forcefully.) While he may be a 21-year-old millionaire, he frightens children of all ages. Even if Donald Trump had completely lost his mind and Chris became one of the final two, his arrest for disorderly conduct last weekend assured he would have had no chance. While his emotion when fired was touching, and Trump was clearly fond of him, “it was just time,” as Trump said.

Alex
Odds
: 1:6        

Bottom line: Competent but too much of a weenie.

Of the people who were called into the boardroom over the first three weeks of this season, Alex is the only one remaining in the competition. And he seems to be barely hanging on. This week, Alex didn’t get photographs taken of the interior of the car, because he was really just interested in playing photo-shoot director with the models. Worse, this didn’t really seem to bother him. When working on previous tasks with other “losers,” as Trump pointed out last week, he also became a loser, rather than excelling on his own. He seems to be intelligent, but he’s too easily distracted by his surroundings.

Kendra
Odds:
1:6

Bottom line: She stepped up this week, but has otherwise failed to impress.

Before tonight, Kendra’s most memorable moment came when, well, never mind. She hasn’t really had any memorable moments, at least until this week. As project manager, she pulled an all-nighter and made sure her team’s car brochure got finished, even though her teammates succumbed to sleep. But there’s something about her behavior during these challenges that just doesn’t suggest a chance for success in this game. “She just doesn’t get it most of the time,” her nemesis Craig said. She also appears to think she’s auditioning for a high school drama, overacting by over-emoting and exaggerating her movements. Her brochure was a hit, but is it enough to compensate for her near-invisibility and odd behavior?

Craig
Odds:
1:4

Bottom line: Equal strengths and weaknesses result in an uneven chance.

At 37, Craig ties with Tana for the second-oldest candidate (both are behind Angie, who’s 41). But his years of experience don’t always translate into success on “The Apprentice.” Craig’s not the best communicator, and his frequent inability to work well with his team—his clashes with Kendra are the most notable example—don’t portend well for his ability to manage others.

But he’s also competent, and when the pressure is on, he delivers. During the task he managed, he nearly single-handedly created an excellent demonstration during the Home Depot challenge—even if his team had no idea what he was doing. But equally strong and weak attributes don’t quite make Craig a toss-up.

Bren
Odds:
2:3

Bottom line: Witty and quick, he has a strong chance of making it to the end.

Bren’s 50/50 track record as project manager shows that his ability to think creatively works extremely well sometimes. But it can also fail miserably (cucumbers, anybody?). He’s a fun guy who works hard, but his efforts don’t always lead to success.

He’s been in the boardroom three times, but by comparison has easily risen above his less-impressive teammates. Based upon that alone, he seems likely to survive longer than three of his other five competitors. And his charisma may help him survive the interview round to become one of the final two.

Tana
Odds:
2:1 

Bottom line: If Tana doesn’t become Donald Trump’s third apprentice, and first female apprentice, then we need to rename the show “The Joke.”

Tana’s performance has been virtually unparalleled. She’s fun and she’s competent, generally working hard and taking control when she needs to. In addition to nearly always delivering for her team, Tana has also proven to be one of the group’s wittiest commentators. Her hysterical asides seem incongruent with her background as a middle-aged Iowan mother and Mary Kay salesperson. For example, this week, she said Chris didn’t fit in because “he’s a virgin and we’re all sluts.” Tana has been called into the boardroom only once, when Angie tried to use her as a scapegoat. Tana emerged unscathed, and now, even if she screws up (like when she bailed on the brochure task this week, citing the need for sleep and her immunity as the reason), she has a lot of capital to expend. Expect Tana to be hired as Donald Trump’s third apprentice.

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

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