The show starts with the overblown Apprentice music blaring over a 2 minute introduction of the show, promising us much crazy from the returning celebrities. The celebs all gather in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, striding to their spots like The Avengers re-uniting for yet another epic battle. Naturally, Trump introduces the place by announcing the millions of money the museum raises every year. He exchanges some pleasantries with the celebrities. Brande Roderick is here to kick butt for severely abused children. Dennis Rodman wants to redeem himself for being a drunken mess in Season 2. Claudia Jordan glumly admits that she raised not a single cent for her charity and wants to do better. Hard for her to do worse.
Trump asks Bret Michaels (Season 3’s winner) why he came back. Bret Michaels says he learned a lot the last time, and doesn’t live in the past. Trump moves on, noting that Lisa Rinna’s lips are smaller than they used to be and that Omarosa has a “different shape.” I never really noticed Omarosa’s shape before, so I’m left baffled. Is he calling her fat? Or did she have a boob job? Where’s Seacrest when you need him!
Trump then drops the bombshell twist: No gender segregated teams! I’m not sure I can handle this change – but I’ll try. He chooses Bret and Trace Adkins (Season 1 Rummer-Up) to be team captains. They choose their teammates, schoolyard style.
Trace picks Season 5 players Penn Gillette and Dee Snyder, Season 1’s Stephen Baldwin and Marilu Henner, and Season 4’s Gary Busey and Lisa Rinna.
Bret starts out by picking the infamous Omarosa (Season 1) , LaToya Jackson (Season 3), Brande, Claudia, and Dennis (all from Season 2) and Lil Jon (Season 4).
We get a quick glimpse of the teams at their first meeting. Bret’s teams notices that all the black people are on their team and laughingly come up with the name “Oreo” (they later change it to “Power” — maybe because Nabisco isn’t a sponsor this season). On Trace’s team, Penn talks about Plan 9 from Outer Space and that evolves into the name “Plan B.”
Both teams know the first task will involve heavy fundraising. Trace Adkins claims the Project Manager spot by promising to hit up T. Boone Pickens. Bret Michaels says he can raise a lot, but Brande gets on her knees to beg her team for the PM position. Her goal is to raise $500,000. Bret agrees, but asks Brande not to throw him under the bus for that concession. Omarosa interviews that Bret is “not too bright” and sets her sights on taking him down.
With Ivanka and Season 1 winner Piers Morgan at his side, Trump assigns the teams to make and sell meatballs. Not the most interesting task, but typical for a first episode challenge. Each team will deliver a serving of meatballs to Kelly and Michael for a taste test. The winner will get a bonus check. The teams cheer and genuflect to Trump, then pull out their Blackberries and start hitting up their donors.
We get a little drama as the celebrities start to plan the task. Bret worries that Omarosa is targeting him. La Toya deems her “malicious and evil.”
Trace decides not to open his restaurant to the public. He’s relying completely on big donors. Stephen thinks that Trace’s strategy is flawed. “What if we lose by $100?” Nevertheless, he decides to hold back on his own donors for a later task. Lisa contributes her husband Harry Hamlin’s meatball recipe. She goes on so much that Trace finally growls, “Stop thinking about the meatballs!”
At the restaurant, Dennis begins his redemption arc by sitting around idle. He asks Brande what he’s supposed to do and she suggests dialing for dollars. Instead, he wanders back to the kitchen, where LaToya puts him on meatball rolling duty. Brande calls all her friends, including a billionaire, but worries that he won’t show up on time.
Emissaries from each team deliver their meatballs unto Queen Kelly Ripa. Penn sneers that Team Power brought a vegetarian meatball — which lacks meat. Meanwhile, he and Marilu brought a dish with the unappetizing name of “Naked Meatballs in Harry Sauce.” As it turns out, Kelly Ripa is a vegetarian and thanks Team Power for sparing her from having to eat two bites of animal flesh. Take that, Penn!
While Brande tells us that there is much to do to get the restaurant ready, Claudia and Omarosa are spending their time plotting Bret’s downfall. “The Bible says, ‘Vengence is mine,” Omarosa declares. Completely forgetting that Bret has never done anything to her.
Time to open the restaurants! Team Power’s is bustling with people bringing in checks. Team Plan B’s is empty. The team (except Trace) looks worried and bored. Gary even flags down a tour bus in an attempt to drum up business. Trace pulls him back and yells at him for ruining the plan, and Gary nods obsequiously. Then he runs out of the door again — but this time there’s a real celebrity outside and he leads Amy Grant to the counter to buy her $75,000 meatball.
Back to Team Power, where a Playboy Bunny hands a check to Brande. Omarosa runs the cash register, although she’s actually just stuffing bills and checks into paper bags. She proudly tells us that she’s providing an orderly intake of money for Brande. Bret lets us know that he’s “squeezing” his roadies for extra cash. Nice of him to force his employees to hand over their paychecks. Bret notices an alarming trend: Omarosa cheers for every donor that gives her a check — except his.
Trace has delegated to Gary the task of distracting Piers during his inspection of the task. Gary does a great job, pulling Piers down into the basement kitchen and monologuing endlessly about how to make meatballs. Piers still manages to see the closed sign and remarks on Trace’s “high-risk” strategy.
Piers then goes to Brande’s buzzing restaurant, just as Paul Teutel, Sr. (from Season 5) shows up with a check. Brande tells Piers that she’s up to $200,000 in donations, but her team mates don’t back up her numbers. She also tells him that if she loses, she’ll bring in the two lowest fundraisers.
We see a girl arrive at Team Plan B with a check from T. Boone Pickens for $100,000. Brande’s talks on the phone to her billionaire friend. He can’t get his check there on time. She cries when she retells the moment to the camera.
The Boardroom begins with Trump grilling Team Power. Dennis Rodman mentions that Brande begged to Project manager, but says she was better than Bret would have been. Brande assures Trump that her teammates were all stars, and that Dennis Rodman was “fine.”
Trump rails for a few minutes about Bret Michaels returning to the game. Piers agrees with Trump, managing to stick in some jabs at Omarosa while he does so. Omarosa accuses Bret of lying about how much money he raised. LaToya tells Trump that Brande didn’t know how to delegate.
Trump starts poking at Team Plan B. Penn praises Trace for being gutsy and realizing that the task was all about “whales” (big donors). Trace names Stephen as the worst on the team, for not bringing in any money. Stephen take pride in keeping his phone closed. He’s not going to waste his donors on somebody else’s task. The Trump frown. They do not like.
Trump moves on to the meatball contest, but questions Brande about sending Bret and Lil Jon. “Are they your biggest celebrities?” he asks. What a weird question. Piers then jabs Brande for putting Omarosa on the restaurant’s poster. Both Dennis and Claudia jump in to defend Omarosa (or maybe just because Piers is being incredibly obnoxious right now). Trump likes their loyalty, but warns them that Omarosa will turn on them “like a snake.” He chuckles at the prospect.
Oh, and Team Power won the meatball contest. $20,000. That turns out to be meaningless, because Team Power only raised $230,000, while Plan B raised $419,000. Since it’s Project Manager take all, Trace Adkins gets $670,000 for his charity, the American Red Cross.
Plan B retires to the suite to watch Brande’s team eviscerate itself. Trace thanks his team for the win and considers his work for the season done.
In the Boardroom, Brande comes under a rain of brimstone and fire. She asks Omarosa who raised the least amount of money and Omarosa refuses to tell her. Omarosa neither knows nor cares. Although she was the team accountant, she didn’t keep count. Ivanka criticizes Brande for not knowing numbers for her team. Brande, sadly, doesn’t have a clue what was brought in — she was told the amount was over $300,000. The only number she knows for sure is $132,000. That’s the amount she raised personally.
Each player gives their own numbers, Lil Jon seems to have brought in between $50-$60,000. Everyone else was about $20-25,000. LaToya’s sum is $18,000. But some of them are lying because the amount they claim to have raised is about $80,000 more than the final count. Brande finally chooses Bret and LaToya as her sacrificial firees.
Trump immediately dismisses LaToya as a possible fire. (Why? She brought in the least amount of money — that is legitimate grounds for dismissal.) LaToya cunningly parries that charge by saying Brande has no idea how much she raised. Trump demands to know why Omarosa wasn’t brought back. He says Omarosa took the accounting job for the express purpose of screwing Brande over. Brande finally admits that she knew there was no way in hell Trump would lose the Omarosa/Piers drama this soon in the season. Hard to argue against that reasoning.
That leaves Bret, who knew he was doomed the minute Brande named him. (While they waited for the final grilling, Brande asked Bret’s forgiveness and he gave it, warning her that Omarosa would target her now.) Trump yells at Bret for returning for a few more minutes, then summarily fires him. He warns Brande to smarten up.
Bret leaves with no regrets. Alas, he failed to raise any money for Life Rocks Foundation. On the other hand, he gets to escape any further torture by the Trump Organization this year. Run, Bret, run!
What did you think of the All-Stars? Are you rooting for anyone yet? Let me know in the comments below!